October 15, 2017 Home INSIDE 100 GREAT BRITISH HOTELS 2 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times More of us than ever are taking breaks in Britain. We need a great place to stay. Here are 100. Our fifth annual guide to the nation’s best hotels is freshly researched, and as ever we focus on the things that really matter: places where the essentials of comfort, service and value go along with personality and warmth. These are the hotels we love — and we think you will, too. Enjoy your stay. CONTENTS Foodie Budget Seaside City Country 3 4 6 8 11 Family Spas Romantic B&B Pubs 12 14 17 19 22 ON TABLET, PHONE AND ONLINE Find your perfect place to stay with our interactive guide. Browse by region, price and type of hotel. thesundaytimes.co.uk/bestplacestostay SUNDAY TIMES OFFERS In this section you’ll find 10 added-value offers exclusively for readers who book through The Sunday Times. These deals were arranged by our commercial team after our journalists had selected the hotels to be included in this issue. *Unless stated, offers are based on two sharing. They are subject to availability VICKI COUCHMAN Travel Best Places to Stay HOTEL OF THE YEAR THE POINTER BRILL, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE T here are some grand hotels in The Sunday Times Best Places to Stay. Hotels that welcome you with a fanfare: white-gloved doormen, sparkling lobby, champagne on a silver tray. Very nice they are, too. Our Hotel of the Year isn’t one of them. There are others that fling open the door, smile warmly, show you over to a snug sofa by the fire and thrust a glass of red into your hand. The only fanfare is the hum of conversation all around. It’s not an arrival, it’s a visit to a friend’s house — just a friend with cooler furniture and a wider social circle than you. Our Hotel of the Year is one of these. The Pointer isn’t nominally a hotel at all. It’s a pub that sits in the ancient village of Brill, perched on a hilltop overlooking the Buckinghamshire countryside. They only launched their accommodation earlier this year, though they’ve been serving ale in the handsome red-brick building for 800 years, give or take. I know what you’re thinking. Seriously old pub = random agricultural implements on the walls and the word “fare” (or, worse, “fayre”) on the menu. Nope. The decor, and in fact everything about the Pointer, is deceptively simple: no themes, no fuss, no headline-grabbing gimmicks — just the stuff that matters, done supremely well. The pub’s main bar is just as it should be: busy, warm, welcoming. The age of the place is evident in the low beams, the higgledy-piggledy layout and the brick inglenook fireplaces. But they’ve also kept it clean and bright — off-white walls, black slate floors, the odd splash of colour from WINNER Robert Clarke’s paintings of farm animals. Locals gossip and nibble pork scratchings (homemade, £2 a bag) at the bar. If it’s sunny, head for the pretty garden; otherwise, bag one of the deep armchairs or sofas by the two fireplaces, order a pint of the full-flavoured Gravitas IPA (brewed in the village, a few minutes’ walk away) and settle down for the evening. For dinner, you could stay put or switch to the lovely dining room in the converted barn, past the buzzing, theatrical open kitchen. But do have something. They know their food here. Literally, in most cases. About 70% of the meat comes from the owners’ farm — they have 250 acres a couple of miles away in Ludgershall — and the manager, Richard Smith, can pretty much give you the life history of what you’re eating. (They have their own butcher’s shop next door, too. If you liked your cut of Ermintrude, you can probably buy another from the affable Jon Wilkins to take home.) Other produce is swapped for booze. Really. There was smoked trout on the menu when I went. “A local angler came in with two beautiful brown trout the other day,” Smith said. “We gave him a bottle of red for them, then smoked them ourselves.” The grouse, foraged cep mushrooms and blackberries were paid for in beer. Smith was tight-lipped on the berry-bitter exchange rate. They know how to cook it, too. Lists of dishes can be tedious when someone else has been lucky enough to eat them, so, quick version: it’s modern British, simple LOCAL HEROES The pub’s staff — and its prize bull, Pointer Can Dance — celebrate their victory. Below, the kitchen’s lobster salad: the Pointer is also our Foodie winner. To win a two-night break at our Hotel of the Year, see page 22 No themes, no fuss, no gimmicks — just the stuff that matters, done well and superb. My lamb was both powerful and delicate; the pear and blackberry tart rich, but not cloying. Everything tastes of what it is, only more so. This is the work of craftsmen, served with care and a smile by staff who clearly like what they’re doing (and no, they didn’t know who I was). So, it’s a great place to drink and to eat. Why should you stay? The commitment to simplicity extends to the rooms. There are only four. They’re in an 18th-century house over the road (which means no noise from the pub). They’re immaculate and surprisingly big for the price bracket. You’d call the decor Scandi sparse if you like it (I did), or off-white bland if you don’t, but you couldn’t deny that they’re cosy: exposed oak beams, huge Hypnos bed, well-chosen wooden furniture, luxurious limestone shower room, snuggly dressing gowns. The wi-fi is instant. Good tea and coffee, proper milk in a bottle. Each one is a cocoon of comfort. Breakfast is tremendous: proper muesli, strong tea, good pastries and perhaps the best full English I’ve ever had. For those who’ve overdone it the night before, on the side of the buffet table are life-saving Panadol, a flask of spicy virgin mary... and a decanter of the barman’s peppercorn vodka. Stronger constitutions could drink their room rate before 10am. Alas, I was driving. In fact, only one thing made us hesitate to name this our Hotel of the Year. The owner, David Howden, is the chief exec of Hyperion, a City insurance conglomerate (2016 profit: £434m). I mean, it’s not like he needs the acclaim. But we reject the politics of envy in favour of a brilliant night’s stay. It’s not Howden’s fault he’s rich, and it might be why he can offer such outstanding value at the Pointer — the quality of room, welcome and breakfast could command a fair bit more than £130. (Don’t tell him.) This place is a masterpiece of understatement: a gimmick-free, contentrich object lesson in the art of hospitality. Book well ahead and look forward to a treat. The Pointer is simply brilliant. l Doubles from £130, B&B; three courses about £40; thepointerbrill.co.uk Stephen Bleach, Travel Editor The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 3 FOODIE A COOMBESHEAD FARM CORNWALL Tom Adams, of London’s Pitt Cue, and April Bloomfield, of the Spotted Pig, in New York, run this 16th-century farm outside Launceston like one big house party. The communal five-course feast features dishes from the farm’s smokehouse and pickling rooms, as well as Mangalica pig, the chef ’s favourite breed — perhaps slow-cooked in a cassis sauce. The five rooms are all pale colours, folksy throws and whitewashed furniture. Breakfast is home-cured bacon, bright orange scrambled eggs, sourdough toast with home-churned butter and hog’s pudding. You’ll find no more pleasurable way to clog up an artery or two. Doubles from £175, B&B; five-course dinner £65pp; coombesheadfarm.co.uk B LYMPSTONE MANOR DEVON NEW OPENING After leaving Gidleigh Park in 2015, Michael Caines wants his country-house hotel to be the first in the UK to win three Michelin stars — he got the first earlier this month. It has 25 chefs and three dining rooms for just 21 rooms. The menu offers modern British classics such as Cornish salt cod with crab and chorizo, followed by pistachio soufflé. Downstairs, restored Georgian features are paired with taupe sofas, chandeliers and bespoke wallpapers; bedrooms have cocktail trays with cut-glass tumblers and bottles of small-batch gin and tonic. Six also have terraces with outdoor tubs, firepits and Jurassic Coast views. Doubles from £305, B&B; three-course lunch from £38pp; lympstonemanor.co.uk Tuck in, tuck up SUNDAY TIMES OFFER BATH PRIORY SOMERSET C This Georgian mansion is a 20-minute stroll from Bath’s centre, yet the elegant drawing rooms, romantic gardens and wisteria-scented terrace feel like something from a country estate. Michael Nizzero, who helped the Ritz win its first Michelin star, has injected lightness into the menu, offering dishes such as confit sea trout with sorrel and heritage tomatoes. Bold colours offset antique furniture in the 33 rooms, and even the smallest have a sofa and a king-size bed. The new spa has treatments based on verbena and lavender. It all adds up to a very un-urban city break. Doubles from £195, B&B; seven-course tasting menu £98pp; thebathpriory.co.uk THE GINGER PIG EAST SUSSEX NEW OPENING D The Ginger Pig’s brand of plush pub grub has been the ideal end to a bracing walk DINNER IS SERVED Creations from Lympstone Manor (top), Bath Priory (left) and Ballintaggart Farm (right) along the beach in Hove since it opened 11 years ago. Steak with barbecue butter and dripping chips, or a sharing roast with kale, roast potatoes and carrots, use local ingredients. Now you can spend the night in one of the 11 cosy rooms, with grey walls, quirky art, geometric tiles in the bathrooms and pre-mixed cocktails in the minibar. Sore heads will be pleased that breakfast is served until 11.30am, and that it includes a bloody mary made with bone-marrow vodka. Doubles from £80; three courses about THE POINTER £35; theginger pigpub.com I H G F A B C E D E HENRIETTA HOTEL LONDON WC2 NEW OPENING The Experimental Cocktail Club, a Parisian outfit, have teamed up with the chef Ollie Dabbous for their second hotel opening, this time in Covent Garden. STAY AT BELMOND LE MANOIR AUX QUAT’SAISONS FROM £465PP — INCLUDING A TWOMICHELIN-STARRED DINNER Readers can enjoy a night in a double room, with champagne on arrival, a twoMichelin-starred dinner, breakfast and a Bicester Village day card from £465pp*. Valid Mon-Thu, excluding bank holidays. Call 0330 160 5135, quoting ST100 Their take on a B&B concept (that’s bed and beverage) includes 18 bohemian bedrooms with handprinted wallpapers, terrazzo-style carpets, Carrara marble skirting boards and midcentury sofas — it’s charming, if a little bewildering. You may need a drink to cope: as expected, the cocktails, designed by the drink historians Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller, are the perfect complement to Dabbous’s Michelin-standard dishes, which include beef tartare with nasturtium and barbecued quail with fenugreek and clover. Doubles from £250, B&B; three courses about £40; henriettahotel.com F LE MANOIR AUX QUAT’SAISONS OXFORDSHIRE It’s the ultimate special-occasion retreat: seriously expensive, yes, but after three decades at the top, the Manoir still delivers. The five-course dinner at this wisteria-clad 15th-century manor features dishes such as roast quail in red wine and cinnamon, and wild mushroom risotto with truffle cream. The chef-proprietor, Raymond Blanc, meticulously designed each of the 32 rooms, too: Opium, for example, has dramatic red silks and black and bamboo furnishings. Most have outdoor areas; all have marble bathrooms and decanters of madeira. Doubles from £595, B&B; five-course dinner from £141pp; belmond.com G MOOR HALL LANCASHIRE NEW OPENING Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons Mark Birchall spent nine years at the two-Michelin-starred L’Enclume, in Cumbria, before opening this restaurant with rooms in a 16th-century manor in Aughton, near Liverpool. A fortnight ago, it won its first Michelin star. The food is superb: oysters with dill “snow” and duck with smoky crisps are among the dishes, all served in a glass-walled dining space with its own cheese room. The seven bedrooms have 500-year-old beams, lavish velvets and silks, lacquered furniture and suede wall coverings. And for breakfast, it’s the prettiest fry-up imaginable — worth the stay alone. Doubles from £195, B&B; five-course tasting menu from £65pp; moorhall.com H THE FOREST SIDE CUMBRIA Kevin Tickle was chief forager at Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume before he launched this glamorous bolthole near Grasmere last year. A host of awards, including a Michelin star, have followed, and the chef ’s dishes have become more adventurous. There’s an amuse-bouche of grey squirrel. Don’t squirm: it’s tasty. There’s also aged rib of beef with umbellifers and wild mushrooms cooked in bone marrow. Tickle is gunning for a second star, and he should get it. The design is every bit as striking as the food: birds of paradise wallpaper, armchairs in tangerine velvet, and bedrooms with king-size beds and indulgent bathrooms. Doubles from £299, including breakfast and a three-course dinner; theforestside.com I BALLINTAGGART FARM PERTH & KINROSS NEW OPENING Chris Rowley and his wife, Rachel, opened this magical restaurant with rooms in a remote hillside byre this year. By the front door, there’s a gleaming kitchen where he offers cookery-school days, as well as pre-dinner bread- or soufflé-making classes. The set menu groans with local chanterelles, venison and seafood from the west coast. There are just two elegantly understated bedrooms, with sheepskin rugs, vintage furniture, ensuites with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the River Tay, and patio seating beside a brazier — marshmallows and toasting forks are supplied. Little wonder Ballintaggart had its first marriage proposal last month. Doubles from £155, including breakfast and afternoon tea; three courses from £42; ballintaggart.com 4 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times BUDGET Travel Best Places to Stay THE GREAT HOUSE WINNER AT SONNING BERKSHIRE NEW OPENING Stay in the black An Elizabethan inn in a Thames-side village that Jerome K Jerome described as the “most fairy-like little nook on the whole river”, with rooms featuring smart leather swivel chairs, Roberts radios, jars of old-fashioned sweets, stacks of books and Fairtrade toiletries: not, in other words, what you’d expect to get for £60 a night. That’s the offer in the eight retro “Cosy” rooms at the Great House. (There are 41 bigger rooms, too.) The Coppa Club restaurant has a “martini time” ambience until well past a sensible bedtime, the pewter bar is as long as a catwalk, and the fireside sofas and battered leather banquettes afford views down to the riverside willows. Our only moan: the rooms closer to the road could do with the addition of earplugs. Doubles from £60; greathouseatsonning.co.uk A THE CORNWALL CORNWALL Set in 43 acres of oak, larch and lime near St Austell, the Cornwall has a modern resort feel that belies its age: the white-fronted manor house dates from 1819. Some of the 65 bedrooms retain original fireplaces and wooden shutters; others have contemporary wallpapers, bright colour schemes and open-plan bathrooms. There are also Scandi two- and three-bedroom self-catering woodland lodges, but why cook when you could be dining on Fowey mussels in the cosy Elephant Bar? The Clearing Spa has a fabulous indoor infinity pool, and indulgent treatments featuring Cornish clay, lava shells and salt. Doubles from £105, B&B; thecornwall.com WHICH BEST PLACE TO STAY HAVE WE MISSED? Or do you agree with our choices? Tell us about your favourite hotel in Britain: email travel@ sunday-times. co.uk B HAVENER’S BAR & GRILL CORNWALL NEW OPENING This grade II listed building on Fowey harbour dates from the Middle Ages, and seafaring runs through its blood, so it’s no surprise to find plenty of maritime styling: the five bedrooms have beach-hut panelling in shades of blue and cream, cushions in deckchair stripes and murals of bobbing boats. All offer a soundtrack of seagulls and harbour bustle, as well as views across the estuary. The bar, with its banquette booths, sink-in sofas and shelves loaded with board games and The Great House at Sonning, left has a Roberts radio and a hanging rail to maximise space. Downstairs is a spacious lobby-cum-living space with an excellent Holborn Grind coffee shop and the Brooklyn diner-style Hubbard & Bell, which has delicious soup and sandwich combos for a tenner on most days. Doubles from £89, B&B; thehoxton.com G GOOD HOTEL LONDON E16 NEW OPENING It’s worthy — the hotel is run by a not-for-profit company that trains the long-term unemployed, giving them a leg-up into the hospitality industry — but does it wow? Absolutely. Moored at Royal Victoria Dock, this former holding ship for illegal immigrants has been converted into a model of industrial chic, with a palette of blacks and greys, an open-plan ground-floor living area, a library and a busy bar and dining area serving tapas and sharing plates, with communal tables. The 148 bedrooms are snug, but soft colours, large windows and clever design give them an airy feel; and on the ship’s roof, which is covered in artificial turf, you can sip cocktails, take yoga classes or just enjoy panoramic views of the city. Doubles from £58; goodhotellondon.com books, has a lovely all-day buzz; sandy Readymoney Cove, sheltered by towering cliffs, is an easy stroll away. Doubles from £99, B&B; havenersfowey.co.uk C THE COMPASSES INN WILTSHIRE NEW OPENING Ben Maschler, a former director of food at Soho House, is the man behind the revamp of this 14th-century inn in the hamlet of Lower Chicksgrove. The sagging ceilings, lethally low-slung beams and wonky flagstones remain. There’s a piano (played regularly, if not always well) and a row of candlelit stalls with bench seats and kilim cushions. Food is a strong point, befitting Maschler’s stellar CV: game with garlic mash is a favourite. The four bedrooms, to be unveiled later this month, are being given the on-trend Scandi treatment. We’re not giving away any secrets, though we hear there will be sheepskin rugs, coir flooring and light blond furniture. Doubles from £95, B&B; thecompassesinn.com H AB D HELEN BROWNING’S ROYAL OAK WILTSHIRE NEW OPENING Helen Browning is a pioneer of the organic farming movement and chief executive of the Soil Association. Fittingly, her pub in her home village, Bishopstone, has evolved organically — two inns merged into one across a former car park and chicken coop. Each of the dozen rustic rooms is named after a field on her beloved Eastbrook Farm. Some have freestanding baths, others barn doors or corrugated fencing upcycled as headboards. All have organic wool duvets and swanky bathrooms. The pub itself is equally idiosyncratic. It feels like a posh version of a sixth-form common room, and patrons are encouraged to barter their homegrown produce for organic pies and pints. Doubles from £85, B&B; helenbrowningsorganic.co.uk E MALMAISON BRIGHTON EAST SUSSEX The fun starts the moment you get into the waterfront lift, with low-level disco lighting and dance tunes as you zip up to the second-floor lobby. The 73 rooms are spread across three floors, with half offering sea views. They’re surprisingly spacious for the price, and individually designed, with huge beds, feature walls covered in street art and minibars with full bottles of wine, not fiddly miniatures. Don’t linger, though. The Chez Mal Bar awaits downstairs, with marina views, and there are various deals at the Chez Mal Brasserie, including a £24.95 three-course autumn menu. You’re a quick cab ride or a bracing stroll from the pier and central Brighton. From £79; malmaison.com I D C F G F THE HOXTON, HOLBORN LONDON WC1 The Hoxton calls a spade a spade. Hence, the 174 rooms in its Holborn outpost vary from “Shoebox” to “Roomy”. All have quirky wallpapers referencing Dickens characters (the author used to live nearby) and contemporary art by students from Central St Martins. Midcentury furniture and battered leather headboards for the queen-size beds put the funk into functional, and each room E The Cornwall, near St Austell H MANORHAUS DENBIGHSHIRE With an 18-seat cinema, a library, a sauna, a steam room, a cocktail bar, an art collection, an award-winning restaurant and a prime spot in pretty Ruthin, this grade II listed townhouse packs in an awful lot for eight rooms. It can even lay claim to a celebrity connection: Cynthia Lennon lived here in the 1970s. Each of the rooms has been decorated in collaboration with a different artist, and original features include fireplaces, sash windows and high ceilings. That cinema is in a vaulted Tudor cellar, with comfy armchairs and complimentary ice cream. Doubles from £95, B&B; manorhaus.com I MOTEL ONE MANCHESTER ROYAL EXCHANGE MANCHESTER NEW OPENING This German budget chain has 60 hotels in seven European countries, with an occupancy rate of nearly 80%. Clearly guests like its combination of good design, city-centre locations and affordable rates. This, the second Manchester offering, opened in June. The classical stone facade has been retained and, inside, the mood is casual and fun, with the company’s trademark turquoise wingback chairs, window recesses stuffed with cushions and a brushed-steel bar counter. The 302 rooms nod to the city’s industrial past, with wallpaper featuring wooden wheels and metal letters, and are a masterclass in how to make compact spaces feel luxurious. Doubles from £84; motel-one.com 6 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times SEASIDE Travel Best Places to Stay PIG ON THE BEACH DORSET B THE BEACH AT BUDE CORNWALL The Beach’s terrace is Cornwall at its most photogenic, packed with beautiful young things in floaty slip dresses and Orlebar Brown leisurewear, accessorised with Ray-Bans and Cornish mules. (That’s a vodka-based cocktail, by the way.) Even this crowd isn’t nearly as cool as the view: it takes in one of the best beaches in Britain, Summerleaze, with a tidal pool and rows of pastel huts. The ground floor is dominated by a huge bar with a brushed zinc counter, and there’s an informal bistro overseen by Joe Simmonds (once of the Bath Priory’s Michelin-starred kitchen). The 16 rooms are chic, with dainty prints and limed oak furniture, and all have at least king-size beds. Doubles from £125; thebeachatbude.co.uk It was our Hotel of the Year in 2014, and this quirky, canary-yellow Victorian pile in Studland has only got better since. The views of sparkling Studland Bay and the chalk-white cliffs are as arresting as ever. Inside, the warren of snugs remains the last word in flea-market flamboyance, with stuffed birds, bone-china teacups and seafaring trinkets. There’s always a battered leather chair by the open fire and plenty of magazines to thumb through. The 23 bedrooms come in all shapes and sizes, but share a shabby-chic DNA that includes slightly bashed dressers, velvet fabrics, brass fittings and ethereal framed ferns on the walls. Chandeliers and freestanding baths grace the larger rooms. The herb-filled greenhouse restaurant serves generous portions of “proper” food, to the gratitude of those who’ve spent the day on the cliff paths or busily exploring the nearby beaches. Middle Beach, with its row of cheery huts, is just down a grassy path, passing the shepherd’s huts (some for sleeping in, some for spa treatments) and the bunker where Churchill and Eisenhower watched troops practise for the D-Day landings. Doubles from £135; thepighotel.com WINNER A Shore to please WATERGATE BAY CORNWALL H G A favourite in our annual top 100, this one combines a shore-edge spot of Poldarkian perfection with a stylish but liveable interior. There are 69 bedrooms, split between the main building and the adjoining coach house, with slatted walls, bare floorboards, Ercol furniture and a breezy colour palette. Downstairs, the energy of the pounding surf sets the tempo for the main Living Space, which is a hive of activity. Order burgers at the Venus Cafe, have coffee and indecently good cake at the laid-back Beach Hut, or pull up a chair at the hotel’s branch of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. The popular Extreme Academy offers all sorts of watery ways to scare yourself stupid. The 80ft pool and spa, less so. Doubles from £175, B&B; watergatebay.co.uk A B C CARY ARMS & SPA DEVON Younger guests lap up the feelgood brand of nostalgia at the Cary every bit as much as the grannies and grandads. The setting is drop-dead gorgeous, snuggling into salmon-pink pine-clad cliffs on the South West Coast Path outside Torquay and overlooking the sweep of Babbacombe Bay. The sitting room is scattered with seafaring memorabilia, and if the weather is even half decent, guests pile onto the terrace, where a notice encourages you to ring the bell if you spot a dolphin. The 10 bedrooms have a nautical freshness and, to reinforce the 1950s English Riviera feel, there are complimentary decanters of sloe gin. Six beach huts were added last year, and in January they opened a glass-fronted spa with a hydrotherapy pool. Doubles from £245, B&B, beach huts from £375, B&B; caryarms.co.uk I C D E F D BRIGHTON HARBOUR HOTEL EAST SUSSEX The fabulous Jetty restaurant/living room flows through most of the ground floor, with a cool vibe and a resident mixologist at the HarBAR (get it?). This classic Victorian whitewashed mansion is sandwiched between the pier and the new i360 viewing tower, and it’s an easy walk to the Lanes and the Royal Pavilion. The 79 rooms have tangerine and turquoise patterned fabrics, porthole mirrors and complimentary decanters of sherry and gin. The dimly lit spa in the old cellars can feel claustrophobic, and the gym and pool are tiny, but a long-delayed rooftop pool (and playground) are opening next year — the icing on a rather impressive cake. Doubles from £95; brighton-harbour-hotel.co.uk E THE GALLIVANT EAST SUSSEX The beach at Camber Sands appears endless, although pedants will tell you that it’s three miles long and up to half a mile wide at low tide. Scramble over those creamy dunes, cross the road and you’re checking in. The Gallivant is the last word in driftwood chic: the shingle garden is stuffed full of swaying grasses and decorative pebbles, while the whitewashed living space has armchairs draped in sheepskins, framed vintage swimsuits, storm lanterns and spindle-back chairs at bare tables. Everything that comes out of the kitchen is homemade, from the wicked coconut bread at breakfast to the rum and raisin ice cream laced with spiced rum. The 20 bedrooms have a carefree, preppy vibe (“An eye to the Hamptons”, they call it), with sun-bleached marine The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 7 Morgan, a celebrated Arts and Crafts ceramicist; suede wallpapers and crushed velvet sofas; an honesty bar with Berry Bros & Rudd wines; and striking art by the likes of Brendan Stuart Burns, whose work hangs in the National Museum Wales. The eight bedrooms are pared-back, with minimalist four-poster beds and leather rugs. There’s a treatment room for massages, should you overdo it on the nearby coastal path, where sightings of puffins, dolphins and porpoises are common. No restaurant, but the slap-up breakfast is excellent. Doubles from £150, B&B; penrhiwhotel.com Main picture, the Beach at Bude. Top, the Pig on the Beach. Left, the Cary Arms SUNDAY TIMES OFFER SAVE 20% AND GET A FREE DINNER AND SPA TREATMENT AT THE GALLIVANT shades, oak floors and handmade recycled timber beds. Doubles from £110, B&B; thegallivant.co.uk F SANDS HOTEL KENT The Sands has played an integral part in the renaissance of Margate, as first choice for hipsters catching the latest exhibition. Its genial Victorian charm is celebrated — the facade and stained-glass details have been retained — but there’s a pleasingly contemporary edge, typified by the open-plan lobby. The big design statement is a huge chandelier over the staircase, with crystal shards that drip down five floors to the lobby. The 20 bedrooms are so neutral, they could probably qualify for a Swiss passport. Estate agents would call them compact, but the buttery creams, shimmering silvers and white leather headboards create a sense of airiness. Some have balconies, but if yours doesn’t, there’s no need to feel hard done by — just head up to the guest-only roof terrace. Doubles from £120, B&B; sandshotelmargate.co.uk G PENRHIW HOTEL PEMBROKESHIRE This 19th-century gabled mansion in St Davids has been carefully renovated to feel like a plush private members’ club. It has fireplaces with tiles by William De One night in a Baby Hampton suite, including breakfast, dinner, spa treatment and bottle of sparkling wine, starts at £148pp* (down from £185pp), Sun-Thu, until Mar 31, excluding Oct 20-29, Dec 21Jan 1 and Feb 9-18. Call 0330 160 5127, quoting ST100 H BLAKENEY HOTEL NORFOLK East Anglia’s finest seaside hotel isn’t actually beside the sea, but don’t let that put you off: the ocean is out there somewhere, over Morston Marsh and past the seals loafing on the Marram dunes. Sprawling along Blakeney’s quayside — where a human tide of sailors, mudlarks, walkers and birders ebbs and flows — the flint and brick building is a Norfolk institution that has welcomed guests since 1922. It has an indoor pool, games rooms, huge gardens, three log fires and a busy bar. The full English is fabulous and Sunday lunch is even better, delivered by witty, long-serving staff. Heath Robinson-esque designs such as bunk beds hidden in a wardrobe and a window disguised as a mirror enhance the quirky originality of the 64 bedrooms. Doubles from £208, B&B; blakeney-hotel.co.uk I ACKERGILL TOWER HOTEL HIGHLAND Previously off limits to anyone without the £7,000 a night needed for exclusive hire, this magnificent 15th-century castle opened its doors to holiday hoi polloi in 2012. The individual rooms offered great value, and instantly it became our favourite Scottish castle hotel. Lording it over a seven-mile sweep of dune and sand, just down the coast from John o’ Groats, the castle has views across Sinclair Bay from most of its 17 tower rooms. The helpful staff can prepare beach fires for evenings under the stars or indulge your inner Rob Roy with a Highland pursuit or two — options include fishing, riding, shooting and even caber-tossing — before a fireside dram at the hotel’s pub, the Smugglers Inn. Doubles from £109, B&B; ackergilltower.com THE BIG SLEEP Here comes the 7ft-wide mattress: Susan d’Arcy on hotel ‘bedflation’ A new battle line has been drawn in the hotel-spec wars. Fifteen years ago, Hotel du Vin installed monsoon showers; soon, everyone had to have them. Not long afterwards, you couldn’t move for Nespresso machines. Now it’s beds: they’re getting bigger. Call it bedflation. Doubles will just no longer do. Even king-size (normally about 5ft wide) is old hat. Many hotels in our 100 have graduated to super-king-size (6ft). The Talbot Inn, in Somerset (see Pubs), was an early adopter of the emperor bed — a whopping 7ft wide. Size isn’t everything. Eccleston Square, in London (see B&B), has installed Hästens beds in all 39 of its rooms, at a cost of £12,000. Each. They’re electronically adjustable, with a massage feature, and the hotel says they’ve been worth every penny in guest satisfaction. The hoteliers Robin Hutson (the Pig hotels) and Bernie Gallagher (the Kensington; see City) give guests the same mattresses they sleep on at home. For him, that’s a Vispring; for her, a King Koil. What next for nod? Lympstone Manor, in Devon (see Foodie), is tipping ethically sourced natural fibres. Its pillows are stuffed with British wool. Eccleston Square is looking at vibrating pillows and meditation tapes. And the craze for Egyptian cotton is waning in favour of bed linen made from... er, linen. It’s naturally hypoallergenic, cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Why did nobody think of that before? 8 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times Travel Best Places to Stay CITY THE NED WINNER LONDON EC2 NEW OPENING Less a hotel, more a small village, this dazzling addition to the Soho House group of hotels and members’ clubs has 13 bars, nine restaurants, a Cowshed spa and a drop-dead gorgeous rooftop. It’s a conversion of Midland Bank’s HQ, built by Sir Edwin “Ned” Lutyens in 1925, and his banking hall — miles of marble, 92 green verdite columns — is now the locus of much celebrity carousing. Guests get access to goodies beyond the 252 ironically chintzy rooms, including a boxing ring, a juice bar and a 65ft lap pool housed in the marble-clad bullion store. The Vault Bar, behind a 20-ton door, might just be the capital’s coolest place for a lock-in. Doubles from £220; thened.com A BRISTOL HARBOUR HOTEL BRISTOL NEW OPENING Urban legends There’s much to celebrate at this conversion of two grand old bank buildings — not least the cut-glass decanters of free gin and sherry in each of the 42 rooms, which have big beds, monsoon showers and chaises longues. The lavish Gold Bar has quickly become the place where Bristol’s smart crowd congregate. After a night on the hard stuff, the crepuscular cocoon of the HarSpa, down in the old vaults, will work wonders. The hotel is in the thick of the city’s Harbourside district, so ask for a quieter room at the back. Doubles from £145; bristol-harbour-hotel.co.uk B NO 15 GREAT PULTENEY BATH NEW OPENING It’s not hard to imagine Jane Austen eavesdropping on society belles and boys at this trendy, trinket-filled boutique hotel in the city’s grandest Georgian terrace. One chandelier is made from hundreds of single, lonely pendant earrings. The clutter works best downstairs, in Cafe 15, which serves dainty breakfast pastries and bistro classics such as steak with triple-cooked chips. Cocktails might arrive in a test tube, a carved wooden bowl or a smoking glass goblet. The 39 rooms are hardly more restrained: crystal-inlaid coffee tables, more chandeliers and (typically pricy) minibars hidden in dolls’ houses. A help-yourself larder on the landing is filled with free Häagen-Dazs. Doubles from £172, B&B; no15greatpulteney.co.uk C THE KENSINGTON LONDON SW7 The design brief for the drawing room at the Kensington, not far from Museum Mile, was to recreate the understated elegance of a Parisian grande dame hotel. It’s now the perfect spot for afternoon tea in front of a roaring fire. The oak, brass, racing green and royal blue of the bar are as rich and warm as a single malt. The Town House restaurant is almost as convivial, serving up fuss-free food by Steve Gibbs, who has worked for Gordon Ramsay and Mark Hix. In the 150 rooms, the flowers are fresh, the candles are scented, the TVs are hidden in mirrors and the art is worthy of a gallery. Doubles from £240; doylecollection.com BARRED Our reviewer Susan d’Arcy in the Ned’s Vault bar SUNDAY TIMES OFFER SAVE 15% AND GET A £15 DINING VOUCHER AT NO 15 GREAT PULTENEY One night in a double room, including breakfast and a £15 dining voucher, starts at £73pp* (down from £86pp), Sun-Fri, until Jan 31. Call 0330 160 5130, quoting ST100 D Z AT GLOUCESTER PLACE LONDON W1 NEW OPENING Every evening at London’s newest Z hotel — the most elegant yet, filling five Georgian townhouses in trendy Marylebone — free cheese and wine are put out for guests. That’s just one appealing added extra you wouldn’t expect at this price point. The cheapest of the 94 confidently minimalist rooms don’t have windows (saves drawing the curtains, the receptionist joked); it is worth paying an extra tenner for some The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 9 F TAMBURLAINE CAMBRIDGE NEW OPENING There’s not much in the way of competition in Cambridge, so the Tamburlaine, next to the station, really didn’t have to try as hard as it has. From the outside, it’s a hideous new-build. But that makes what’s inside all the more unexpected. Instagram is already full of pretty girls in tea dresses posing in front of the jungle wallpaper in the fun, light-filled sitting room. The restaurant is a gleaming bistro in brass and marble — though the kitchen would benefit from keeping things simpler. Upstairs, there’s a suitably Oxbridgey library. Even the loos are worth a photo. The bedrooms are rather businesslike by comparison, but calm and elegant. A neat little coffee shop drags in morning commuters. Pretty soon they’ll be dropping in for cocktails on the way home, too. Doubles from £190; thetamburlaine.co.uk G HOPE STREET HOTEL LIVERPOOL The city’s first boutique hotel, which opened in 2003, is still the best. While the exterior is four storeys of 19th-century elegance, the interiors offer classy minimalism that’s yet to show any signs of ageing. Even the cheapest of the 89 rooms have wooden floors, original brickwork and exposed beams. London Carriage Works, arguably the best restaurant in Liverpool, is downstairs, serving modern British plates in an atmosphere that buzzes from early until late. It’s a popular hang-out for cast and crew from the nearby Everyman Theatre. What makes a stay here so memorable, though, is the staff: friendly, obliging and, in accordance with the cliché, every one a comedian. Doubles from £54; hopestreethotelliverpool.com natural light. An additional £30 gets you a junior suite with a grand original fireplace. Breakfast isn’t included, but there are worse places to start the day than the laid-back cafe downstairs, which has free iced tea and fresh honeycomb to stir in your coffee. Doubles from £75; thezhotels.com E CITIZEN M TOWER OF LONDON LONDON EC3 At this Dutch chain, there’s no queue for check-in: you swipe your credit card and head upstairs. And there’s no pay-grade haughtiness from the staff, who are trained to perform every duty, from barista to customer complaints. The rooms are equally egalitarian — 370 midget gems with extra-large beds, iPad Minis that control lighting, temperature and the TV, pop art on the wall and Penguin classics on the shelf. To make up for the pokiness of the rooms, the hotel has gone big on the communal areas: the eighth-floor terrace has thrilling views of the capital’s skyline, from Tower Bridge to the Shard. There are two other Citizen Ms in London — in Shoreditch and on the South Bank — as well as one in Glasgow. We’d like even more. Doubles from £104; citizenm.com H HOTEL GOTHAM MANCHESTER G H Our usual response to a themed hotel is to check in somewhere else. But this 60-roomer delivers its motif — a glamorous merger of 1920s Manhattan and the moneymen of 1930s Manchester — with bags of charm and humour. The Do Not Disturb signs are shaped like Batman’s logo; gold bars serve as bookends; and rooms are supplied with swag bags into which you can stuff any goodies you’d like to take home (declared and paid for at checkout). Ignore your minibar and phone the mixologist: he or she will drop by with a drinks trolley to make the perfect martini in your room. A room key also gets you entry to Club Brass, a cool members-only rooftop speakeasy. Warning: there may be footballers. Doubles from £150; hotelgotham.co.uk I F AB C D E I THE PRINCIPAL YORK YORK NEW OPENING MINSTER VIEWS The Principal York This was one of the most elegant railway hotels in its heyday, a pit stop for Queen Victoria en route to her summer holidays at Balmoral, but it had rather hit the buffers. Now, more than £15m has been well spent, and the landmark has been brought back to life. The Garden Room lounge makes no attempt to hide its extravagance, with a sky-high ceiling, intricate architraves, Corinthian columns and an ornate sweeping staircase. Afternoon tea involves Yorkshire ham in the finger sandwiches and Slingsby rhubarb gin. The Refectory Kitchen is like a little bit of Soho House that has leaked north, and the 155 bedrooms have all the requisite oak furniture, brass fittings and framed maps. Doubles from £132; phcompany.com SPOTTED: WHERE THE CELEBS STAY H arvey Keitel, Liam Neeson and Chris Martin walk into a bar. No, really: all three have been spotted at the Talbot Inn, in Somerset (see Pubs). Another unlikely combination has been spied at our Budget Hotel of the Year, the Great House at Sonning: Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin, and Theresa sa May. The Thames-side hotel el is in the PM’s Maidenhead constituency. Paloma Faith and Sharleen Spiteri checked cked in at Chewton Glen, in n Hampshire, this summer mer (Country), while the recently departed Spandau Ballet front man Tony Hadley, like Alan Carr, John Bishop and Michael Palin, headed up north for some spa time at Rockliffe Hall, outside Darlington (Family). Ryan Giggs took on all eight courses at Moor Hall, in Lancashire (Foodie); while the Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp treats his team to the occasional slap-up meal at the city’s Hope Street Hotel (City). In London, Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell and Laura Bailey have Theresa May and Jimmy Page strutted their stuff at the Hoxton, Holborn (Budget). Elle Macpherson, Frank Lampard and Christine Bleakley are regulars at the Kensington (City). As ever, there’s no shortage of talent on show at Soho Farmhouse, in Oxfordshire (Country). Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sneaked off there earlier this year for ear some R& R&R. David Beckham and Victo Victoria are fans, as is Kate Moss, Mo who was also spotted a at the Bull, in Gloucestershire (Country). Glouce Yet for hotel-based sleb-spotting, Britain has sleb-s a new champion: the Ned, City Hotel of the Year. our C Woody Harrelson, Woo the Duchess of York, Gary Gar Barlow and Tinie Tempah were among the Tem guests gue who got through almost 1,000 bottles of alm Perrier-Jouët and 2,000 Per “Nedgronis” at its “N op opening party in April. Susan d’Arcy Susa The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 11 Travel Best Places to Stay COUNTRY BEAVERBROOK WINNER SURREY NEW OPENING Cherkley Court, near Box Hill, is the former estate of the press baron Lord Beaverbrook, and it has been transformed into this year’s best weekend away. You can hole up in the Garden House, which has 11 rustic-chic rooms, but for the full Fleet Street experience, shell out for the House. Wherever you wander, there’s history: curl up in the art deco cinema where Beaverbrook watched Pathé reports and plotted strategies with Churchill; and view the Surrey Hills from the terrace, a spot that inspired Rudyard Kipling to write a poem about the house. The 18 bedrooms are named after past A-list visitors. Elizabeth Taylor is all feminine pastels. Ian Fleming cuts a dash in black and white. Dinner is cutting-edge Japanese by Taiji Maruyama, though there are also big bowls of pasta in the Garden House. A spa arrives in December. House doubles from £330, Garden House doubles from £280; beaverbrook.co.uk A CHEWTON GLEN HAMPSHIRE The rural setting is as Instagrammable as ever, but this hotel is constantly reinventing itself. New this year is the Kitchen, a cookery school/cafe headed up by James Martin, as an alternative to the fancy-pants food in the elegant main restaurant. The 70 rooms mix classic and contemporary, but the main prize is a night in one of the seven treehouses, with fab woodland views. Chewton Glen has indoor and outdoor pools, a nine-hole golf course, bikes to borrow, archery and a staff-to-guest ratio of two to one. Doubles from £325; chewtonglen.com Rustic retreats FREE SPA TREATMENT AT CHEWTON GLEN One night in a double room, with breakfast, a 30-minute treatment per person and a welcome gift, starts at £185pp*, Sun-Thu, from Jan 2 to Mar 31, excluding bank holidays and Valentine’s Day. Call 0330 160 5126, quoting ST100 B LIME WOOD HAMPSHIRE More than £30m was spent doing up this 32-room New Forest hideaway, so expect lavish rooms with soft Italian leather armchairs and tactile natural fabrics. The public areas are equally glossy: a piano in the hallway, a buzzing courtyard bar with a retractable glass roof, reception rooms with glistening chandeliers and open fires, and the wonderful Angela Hartnett restaurant. The award-winning spa is ideal for morning-after resuscitation. Doubles from £330; limewoodhotel.co.uk G Former music-industry executive Alex Payne wanted his renovation of this lovely Cotswold manor in Crudwell to be both country and rock’n’roll. The Georgian sitting rooms are bucolic and relaxed, but the mirror-backed, marble-topped bar is built for bad behaviour. Way before that, there’s the prospect of modern British classics such as veal with baby artichoke and pork chop with capers in the conservatory dining room. The 18 rooms have original beams, velvet bedheads and cool art on the walls. Doubles from £150, B&B; therectoryhotel.com D THE BULL HOTEL GLOUCESTERSHIRE NEW OPENING E I C THE RECTORY HOTEL WILTSHIRE NEW OPENING SUNDAY TIMES OFFER with crystals. There’s a candlelit dining room in the converted stables, and the 21 rooms feature Egyptian-cotton linens, feather duvets and vintage pieces. Doubles from £100, B&B; thebullhotelfairford.co.uk There could be famous faces at the bar of this newcomer in the Cotswold town of Fairford — Kate Moss and Gary Barlow are friends of the owners — but it’s the bull’s head mounted over the fireplace that steals the limelight. Downstairs, the decor is a theatrical mix of bottle-green walls, nostalgic photos and a coffee table inlaid THE PAINSWICK GLOUCESTERSHIRE This one scores a full house in Cotswold-cliché bingo: a mullioned 18th-century mansion surrounded by mellow-stone cottages, overlooking the fulsome folds of the Slad Valley, outside Stroud. It’s surprisingly affordable, which helped it win our Hotel of the Year crown in 2016. There’s a cocktail bar in an old chapel, a dinky spa and a tongue-in-cheek vibe (witness the Full Elvis breakfast, with waffles and peanut butter). The 16 rooms offer high-quality finishes and thoughtful touches such as homemade madeleines. Doubles from £129; thepainswick.co.uk H THE DEVONSHIRE ARMS AT PILSLEY DERBYSHIRE The more traditionally minded should opt for one of the six farmhouse bedrooms at the Devonshire, set on the 35,000-acre Chatsworth estate. These have elaborate four-posters in florals or country checks. Above the pub proper (don’t worry — they’re pin-drop quiet), the other seven rooms are more contemporary, with zingy H E F CD A wouldn’t look out of place in Versailles. The 18 bedrooms are just as lavish, with Zoffany wallpaper, sherry decanters and TVs hidden in gilt mirrors. All have views that entice you out to Snowdonia’s hills. The Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines oversees the kitchen: try the succulent Welsh black beef and native lobster. Doubles from £190, B&B; palehall.co.uk B F SOHO FARMHOUSE OXFORDSHIRE Soho Farmhouse’s 40 cabins, set in 100 acres in Great Tew, nail the rustic-chic look, with slatted walls, woodburning stoves and homespun furniture. An electric milk float does the rounds dispensing “prinks” (pre-party drinks), and you’ll want to spend time in the Boathouse, which has a magnificent 135ft indoor/outdoor pool, linked by a bridge to the vast spa. Doubles from £350; sohofarmhouse.com G PALE HALL GWYNEDD This grade II listed hall was once the Duke of Westminster’s shooting lodge. Decor is flamboyant: the three drawing rooms HOUSE OF LORD Top, the Beaverbrook. Below, get in the swing at Chewton Glen velvet fabrics. The restaurant showcases the estate’s produce and some of the Peak District’s best walking is on your doorstep. Doubles from £104, B&B; devonshirepilsley.co.uk I GLENEAGLES PERTH & KINROSS Gleneagles has been welcoming guests since 1924, yet it has changed beyond all recognition. In 2015, it was taken over by the hipster team behind the Hoxton hotels, and it has been given the mother of all makeovers. The dark woods and swirly carpets have been put on the bonfire, and the 232 bedrooms now echo the mellow tones of the surrounding mountains and moors. Country pursuits range from falconry to ferret races, while the four golf courses justify all those plus-fours. Doubles from £275, B&B; gleneagles.com 12 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times Travel Best Places to Stay S ometimes all we want from a hotel is a bed bigger than the one at home and hop-to-it service. The world’s best usually deliver. But what makes us love a hotel so much we want to move in is details that you can’t design, plan or script. It could be a surprising comment from a waiter, a spontaneous gesture from the maître d’ or an intuitive touch so perfectly judged, we know we’re in supremely hospitable hands. Where do the world’s leading hoteliers find that magic? Few men have opened hotels that are more original, or more loved, than Ian Schrager. The New Yorker created the hip, boutique or style hotel that has been ripped off by every operator in the world. He’ll stay anywhere where the staff “have a confident but not snooty air. They all know they are working at a very special place, like members of an exclusive club. You find it in Claridge’s, in London, but also in the smallest of family-run lodges, even a B&B.” Few men have stayed in more hotels than Giorgio Armani, and he now runs his own branded hotels in Milan and Dubai. He knows what it takes to get into FAMILY WHERE THE WORLD’S BEST HOTELIERS FIND THE MAGIC... our souls — and through it to our wallets. When it comes to where he lays his head, he keeps it classical and simple. In Italy, he likes to stay anywhere “where the tomatoes come fresh from a local farm”. In London, he checks in at the Beaumont, which, although new, “feels as though time has stood still. It’s like being immersed in an England from another era, but with all the comforts of the modern world.” Nick Jones, the man behind Soho House and our City hotel of the year, the Ned, looks for “the right combination of layers — design, art, the people who work there, the food, the style of glassware. The best hotels have all of those and feel local to the place you’re visiting. The Nomad, in New York, ticks all the boxes.” Robin Hutson, creator of the Pig chain of hip yet affordable country-house hotels, will stay anywhere that gives “the extra 5% — anticipation of guests’ needs. We try to do it ourselves. At the opening of the Pig near Bath, the hotel director found out the favourite interest of the guests, bought a vintage book on the subject and wrote a welcome note inside. I even got a book — on fly-fishing.” John Arlidge ...AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR YOUR NEXT STAY T he Lausanne School of Hotel Management is the hospitality industry’s equivalent of Oxbridge. It also keeps close tabs on the latest trends and innovations. We asked Rémi Walbaum, its chief innovation officer, and Ian Millar, a senior lecturer in information technology, for their predictions. RIP UP THE RULEBOOK In the UK, the AA has a 44-page dossier that stipulates which services a hotel must provide to be rated one- to five-star. It is a huge barrier to innovation. For example, to get five stars, rooms must have two phones, a radio and a “substantial writing table with excellent free space”. The desk and all the paraphernalia that comes with it should be removed. Writing paper and envelopes? Really? When was the last time someone wrote a letter in a hotel room? AIRBNB ISN’T THE ENEMY Hotels will start to interact more with Airbnb’s customers. Why shouldn’t a hotel deliver breakfast to an apartment next door, do an Airbnb renter’s dry cleaning or store their luggage on the last day? MEMORY MATTRESSES Hotels can keep data on how guests like their hotel rooms, so they can set up their preferred temperature, for example, before they check in. WINNER For ages zero and up Replacing mattresses can be expensive, but bed manufacturers such as Elite are producing mattresses capable of detecting whether someone is sleeping on it. As a consequence, they lease beds and charge on the basis of actual usage, saving the hotel money. BRIBE US TO GO GREEN The environmental effect of laundry is a huge problem. At the Rydges hotels, in Australia, you get credit towards food and drink for every day that you don’t have your room cleaned. EYES OPEN The technology exists for room card keys to be replaced by iris recognition, but the issue of storing guests’ biometric data is still a grey area. Similarly, voice-recognition services such as Siri and Alexa could be used, but would you be happy with a “listening” device in your room? THE ROBOTS AREN’T COMING Robots are already delivering room service at the Aloft hotel, in Los Angeles, and they could offer a cost-efficient alternative to human labour. However, the emotional factor of a human being welcoming you to a hotel will always be an integral part of the customer experience. Susan d’Arcy SUNDAY TIMES OFFER SAVE 34% ON A FAMILY BREAK AT ROCKLIFFE HALL Two nights in an apartment, including breakfast, dinner each evening and free bike hire, start at £233pp*, based on three sharing (down from £350pp), Tue-Thu, until Mar 31, excluding Christmas and bank holidays. Call 0330 160 5128, quoting ST100 ANOTHER PLACE CUMBRIA NEW OPENING Will Ashworth, the owner of the phenomenally successful Watergate Bay, in Cornwall (see Seaside, page 6), has exported his brand of high-octane hospitality north to the shores of Ullswater. The day’s activities are chalked up on a blackboard at reception, and it’s tiring just reading it: stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, coasteering, biking, wild swimming, hiking, trekking, fishing, even skiing on the Helvellyn range... Inside, rosy-cheeked kids and their parents don’t feel underdressed tucking into doorstep sandwiches in their wetsuits, or out of place lounging feet up on spindle-back chairs and slouchy sofas, watching Netflix on their iPads. There’s a more formal restaurant, serving dishes such as warming lamb hotpot or whole sea bass, and a children’s supper with healthy buffet meals dished up between 5pm and 6pm. The Ofsted-registered club for under-8s goes in for arts and crafts, puppet shows and storytelling; kids need to be between 8 and 12 to get their hands on the electronics in the cooler safari-style den. Another Place’s 20 bedrooms in the original whitewashed Georgian manor retain a traditional feel, with embossed wallpapers, four-posters and antique furniture; the other 20, split between two swanky new wings, are altogether more “Watergate”. Which means the greens and golds of a Lakeland autumn, and sheepskin rugs draped over the sofas. When you’re all exercised out, unwind in the wonderful slate-tiled indoor pool, glass-fronted sauna and hot tub. Family suites from £270, B&B; anotherplace.co.uk A BEDRUTHAN CORNWALL Arranged on the bluffs in a series of terraced pavilions, Bedruthan has the room and resources to keep young families happy for days. The owners have upgraded the facilities for grown-ups, with a touchy-feely spa garden and a shimmering gold cocktail bar. But that’s nothing compared with the soothing effect of the ever-willing staff, the sunset views and the beach below. The best of the 101 rooms are in the main building (less legging it up and down those terraces), but it’s the next-door apartment suites, with separate sitting rooms, that are the real family find. Sea-view family rooms from £206, B&B; apartment suites from £316, B&B; bedruthan.com B FOWEY HALL HOTEL CORNWALL Parents might wonder whether this imposing Victorian pile, with an elegant Doric portico and domed towers, can really be family-friendly. Then the trampoline, tyre swings and zip wire come into view. Part of the Luxury Family Hotels stable, Fowey Hall has uplifting views through cedar trees to the Fowey estuary, eye-catching interiors (a wooden staircase dominates the entrance hall) and staff who treat children like proper people, rather than unclipped hand grenades. A third of the 36 rooms are geared to families, and there’s a complimentary baby-listening service run from reception. Guests get two hours of free childcare a day and a Sunday-morning nanny service. Rooms sleeping four from £190, B&B; foweyhallhotel.co.uk I C WOOLACOMBE BAY HOTEL DEVON If the immaculate sweep of lawn and the heated outdoor lido don’t tempt you and your little ones outside, then Woolacombe Beach, sitting just beyond the hotel grounds, surely will: three miles of golden sands backed by dunes. The Victorian-era Woolacombe Bay Hotel colonises the valley floor in a series of vast mock-Tudor buildings, with a magnificent ballroom and a double-height dining room. An indoor pool, a spa, a squash court and pool tables offer rainy-day relief, and there’s a programme of children’s entertainment during the summer. No kids’ club, but you’ll make do. Interconnecting family rooms from £224, B&B; woolacombe-bay-hotel. co.uk H G E F C D A D DEER PARK COUNTRY B HOUSE HOTEL DEVON This Georgian mansion outside Honiton is owned by the entrepreneur Nigel Wray, chairman of the European rugby champions, Saracens, and much of his sporting memorabilia collection is on The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 13 display here. Deer Park manages to be both posh and homely. The 32 rooms are split between the main house and the garden wing. The former have wrought-iron beds, pretty wallpaper, antique pieces and plenty of books — about sport, of course. The wing rooms have bolder colours and views of the walled garden. Younger kids will love the various play areas, while teens can try country pursuits including archery, clay-pigeon shooting and fly-fishing. Family rooms from £130, B&B; deerparkcountryhotel.co.uk E THE BATH ARMS WILTSHIRE This ivy-wrapped retreat could have got the nod in any number of our categories — not least Budget, thanks to its steal of a room rate. But, given its unrivalled access to Longleat, an attraction that could swallow an entire school holiday, we’re nominating it for Family. With a regular procession of locals, from foresters and fishermen to (if you’re lucky) the odd tiger handler, the atmosphere is unstuffy and this feel extends to the 17 rooms, which are stacked asymmetrically in the main house and spill into a handful of pet-friendly courtyard rooms. There’s great food, too, courtesy of the versatile Zimbabwe-born chef Brian Hall. Our spring lamb with ruby beet risotto (£15.95) was divine. Doubles from £55, B&B; family rooms from £175, B&B, including three-day passes to Longleat; batharms.co.uk F FOUR SEASONS HOTEL HAMPSHIRE HAMPSHIRE This exclusive chain has just three UK properties, and the other two are in swanky London postcodes, so there’s an expectation that it’s going to be grand. It’s certainly that, a restored Georgian manor house on a hill in verdant isolation. The 133-room hotel offers country-estate grandeur with none of the inconveniences of age: everything is robust, creak-free and immaculate. The new Wild Carrot restaurant and bar has an open kitchen and enveloping booths, and there’s an indoor/outdoor pool in the cutting-edge spa (they’re building a kids-only one in 2018), a high-ropes course and an equestrian centre. The drawback? It’s a pricy family treat. Doubles from £320, B&B; interconnecting family rooms from £710; fourseasons.com/ hampshire G THE FISH HOTEL WORCESTERSHIRE High design values combine with plenty of highchairs at this bucolic bolthole outside POOL WINNINGS Main picture, splash down at Fowey Hall Hotel. From top right, croquet at the Four Seasons in Hampshire, and seaside swimming at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel the sleepy Cotswolds village of Broadway. There’s a cosy bar and a laid-back lounge that has a central woodburner, patchworks of comfy chairs in biscuity fabrics and shelves of fresh herbs. The staff, who could outlast any children’s TV presenter for enthusiasm and energy, are on hand to organise activities in the Fish’s 400-acre playground, including archery, off-roading and Segway safaris. The 68 bedrooms are spread across four buildings and are fairly compact, with cosy armchairs and sheepskin throws, and there are five Hilly Huts — more woodburners, hot tub, private deck — aimed at couples. Family rooms from £200, B&B; thefishhotel.co.uk H ROCKLIFFE HALL CO DURHAM Children love the sense of space at Rockliffe Hall, three miles south of Darlington. The lofty Victorian interiors, yawning lawns and 65ft indoor pool are all great places to unbottle pent-up energy, but it’s the new Mischmasch garden, on the eastern edge of the estate, that’ll really delight them — wooden climbing frames, a bed of water jets and a hamlet of log cabins for playing pool or video games. Grown-ups will doubtless prefer the spa, centred on a foaming hydrotherapy pool and a championship golf course. New Hall rooms, each with a big sofa bed, work well for families, but for maximum comfort and privacy, book a two-bedroom Armstrong apartment, next to Mischmasch. New Hall rooms from £270, B&B; Armstrong apartments from £285, B&B; rockcliffehall.com I CRIEFF HYDRO PERTH & KINROSS Our top pick in last year’s Family category has upped its game still further, thanks to a £780,000 refurb of the self-catering cottages and a spectacular new 900ft zip wire on its high-ropes course. That’s in addition to the existing indoor pool, sports hall, mini zoo, riding stables, mountain-biking course, 40-seat cinema, off-road quad-biking course and two free sessions of supervised kids’ clubs a day for children aged 2-12. Downton Abbey meets Center Parcs, Crieff Hydro has plenty of grand Victorian elegance to balance out the breathless fun, with an adults-only spa and seductively low-lit whisky bar among the parent-friendly hideaways. Family rooms sleeping four from £135, B&B; cottages from £55 a night, with a minimum two-night stay; crieffhydro.com 14 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times Travel Best Places to Stay SPA RUDDING PARK WINNER NORTH YORKSHIRE NEW SPA Soak it up The pièce de résistance in the shiny new spa at Rudding Park, outside Harrogate, is its rooftop garden, a woodland glade in the sky created by Matthew Wilson, where loungers and pods are hidden in sunken chillout areas. It’s like nothing else we have experienced. Down on a subterranean relaxation floor, films of the Yorkshire landscape, ambient music and colouring books encourage mind and body to operate at a slower, steadier pace. Full marks to Rudding for offering adapted treatments for cancer patients. Elsewhere, the champagne flows freely and the seven-course tasting menu might feature Whitby crab, Shetland scallops and Yorkshire venison. The 88 bedrooms are modern and fuss-free, including family rooms with bunk beds and lodges with verandas and private hot tubs. The only thing we don’t like is the £35pp a day fee to use the spa. Doubles from £189, B&B; ruddingpark.co.uk A B A THE SCARLET CORNWALL This returning favourite isn’t resting on its ethically sourced laurels. Additions for 2017 include an al fresco cedarwood sauna and seven romantic wicker pods tucked into the dunes, supplied with picnic hampers and Cornish-made recycled blankets. Raise a flag and your butler will come running with a green juice — or champagne. The log-fired outdoor hot tubs remain, as do their stress-busting views over Mawgan Porth beach. In the womb-like ayurvedic spa, try the yoga classes, slather on Cornish clay in the hammam or succumb to a muscle-melting Indian massage. The 37 bedrooms feature blond woods, oval baths and floor-to-ceiling windows; some have courtyard terraces, others beach-view balconies. Doubles from £210, B&B; www.scarlethotel.co.uk I B BORINGDON HALL DEVON The stunning Gaia spa burst onto the scene last year, causing teacups to rattle in the hotel’s 16th-century great hall: three storeys of slate and bleached woods, with a light-filled pool, an outdoor hydrotherapy area and a dainty “spatisserie” serving calorific cakes as well as rabbit food. And there’s no tutting here if you ask for a glass of bubbly. The spa’s new director is the imaginative Shelley Hepburn, fresh from launching the spa at the Ned (see City): she has plans for moonlit walks on Dartmoor and out-there sessions involving local healers and nearby ley G H E F C D lines. Nothing wacky about the 40 bedrooms, which range from full baronial to cautiously contemporary. The public areas are grand, but a little frayed around the edges. Doubles from £139; boringdonhall.co.uk C LUCKNAM PARK WILTSHIRE Simply, one of the most indulgent spa experiences in the UK. In the main house, the rooms are traditional worlds of ancestral oils and silk swags. At the other end of a bamboo-lined path, however, the The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 15 muscle-melting Hydrotherm treatment, where you lie on warm-water cushions. The bedrooms at this converted farm outside Tetbury do a nice line in understated glamour. Dress up for modern British dishes at the Conservatory restaurant; if you’d rather keep it casual, skinny jeans will do just fine at the Gumstool Inn, Calcot’s own country pub. Yes, it does fish and chips. Doubles from £209, B&B; family rooms from £229, B&B; calcot.co F CLIVEDEN HOUSE BERKSHIRE NEW SPA HOT TUBS The Scarlet, left, and Mallory Court SUNDAY TIMES OFFER spa is ultramodern. A curved glass roof allows the space, which includes a 65ft pool, to be flooded with sunlight. There’s a Japanese Salt Room, a steam room, a sauna and a mixology bar, which deals in combinations of scents, not cocktails. The hydrotherapy pool is set in flower-filled gardens and a glass-fronted bistro serves burgers and beers. Guests can ride, cycle and stroll in the 500 acres of parkland, and a cookery school shares the secrets of the hotel’s Michelin-starred kitchen. Doubles from £295; lucknampark.co.uk D GRAYSHOTT MEDICAL SPA SURREY The decor’s showing its age, but the seriousness of the spa pushes this SAVE £150 AND RECEIVE A MUD RASUL RITUAL FOR TWO AT RUDDING PARK One night in a double room, including breakfast, dinner, spa access and a Mud Rasul Ritual treatment for two, starts at £148pp* (down from £223pp), Sun-Fri, until Mar 31. Call 0330 160 5131, quoting ST100 grande dame outside Guildford into our top 10. This is the UK’s only spa with its own medical advisory board. A cranial osteopathy session with Elaine Williams is 60 minutes of restorative magic and the Wednesday lecture by Stephanie Moore could radically alter your relationship with food. There’s even a new Managing Diabetes clinic. Away from the 39 treatment rooms, Grayshott has indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course and 47 acres of woodland. The 59 bedrooms are split between the faded gentility of the manor house, formerly the home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and the more modern ones in the extension, some with patios. Doubles from £475, full-board; minimum two-night stay; grayshottspa.com E CALCOT MANOR GLOUCESTERSHIRE Don’t feel too guilty about abandoning the kids as you soak in a lavender-lined outdoor hot tub, staring across at a roaring fire. They’re in good hands at Calcot, which has Ofsted-registered nannies, arts and crafts for under-8s, PlayStations and a 12-seat cinema for bigger boys and girls, and babysitting for £10 an hour. The spa had a £300,000 makeover this year, including an impressive refit of the gym. We loved the The hotel where John Profumo met Christine Keeler in 1961 had a serious revamp in 2015. Undisclosed millions were spent updating the 48 bedrooms; the chef André Garrett was hired; the wood-panelled library was turned into a sexy bar. The spa, though, remained awful. That’s finally been fixed — it’s now a Chanel poster come to life. The indoor pool has the sort of sympathetic backlight Hollywood divas have written into their contracts, and this is the first spa to offer treatments by Sarah Chapman: Victoria Beckham and Naomi Watts are fans of her “facial gymnastics”. And that infamous outdoor pool has had some much-needed TLC. You, too, might find yourself in hot water: two new hot tubs have been installed. Doubles from £445; clivedenhouse.co.uk G MALLORY COURT WARWICKSHIRE NEW SPA The 31 bedrooms in the main hotel, a classic ivy-clad manor, are perfectly pretty, but they’re not a patch on the 12 stylish rooms in the new £7m spa complex — and nobody will bat an eye lid if you go down to breakfast (avocado and toasted sourdough, obviously) in your bathrobe. In the spa, there’s a rhassoul mud room where couples can slather themselves in mineral-rich mud from the Atlas Mountains. Ila facials combine rare frankincense with a sonic-wave therapy. The spa cafe goes big on bowl food, grills and salads, but there’s also a less virtuous fine-dining restaurant and a fuss-free brasserie where you can tuck into fillet of beef with onion rings. Spa doubles from £229, B&B; mallory.co.uk H THE WATERFRONT HOTEL BEDFORDSHIRE Treatments in the Waterfront’s Y Spa start at just £33. Prices are this low because the hotel is part of a conference complex, Wyboston Lakes, not far from Milton Keynes, which isn’t many people’s idea of sexy. Still, delegates with name badges deserve pampering too, and the spa is, frankly, ace. Most guests congregate around the outdoor hydrotherapy pool, a great spot for lunch, wrapped in a cashmere blanket if necessary. It has plenty of snoozing spots — loungers, water beds, reading pods, a new meditation salon — as well as a frost wall and a salt chamber. The 103 rooms are four-star, rather than the full five, and dinnertime is a buffet affair, but done with flair. The hotel also has a nature reserve: keep your eyes peeled for kingfishers. Doubles from £85, B&B; thewaterfronthotel.co.uk I SWINTON PARK NORTH YORKSHIRE NEW SPA When Swinton Park unveiled a £6m spa in its Downton-like surrounds earlier this year, it was the final piece of the jigsaw. The new building may not have the grade II listed history, but it has soul, two very cool pools and a sauna scented with herbs from the kitchen garden. Loungers in the spa garden are kitted out with sheepskin throws, and we like the Bamford products and the fact that there are bathrobes in different sizes: other spas, take note. The hotel’s 32 bedrooms — canopied beds, antiques, checks and florals, marble bathrooms — come with fresh flowers and decanters of Raisthope sloe gin. There’s hunting, shooting, fishing and a cookery school offering nutritional wellness courses, too. Doubles from £170, B&B; swintonestate.com The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 17 Travel Best Places to Stay ROMANTIC ARTIST RESIDENCE WINNER OXFORDSHIRE This is the fourth hotel in a much-loved mini chain (the others are in London, Brighton and Penzance), and the first rural offering. The whimsical approach of the owners, Justin and Charlie Salisbury, transfers brilliantly to this 16th-century thatched pub in the village of South Leigh, outside Oxford. Downstairs, there’s a warren of rooms with flagstone floors, beamed ceilings, oak panels and a couple of bars. So far, so standard nice country pub. Yet most country pubs don’t have photo galleries of 1960s French wrestlers on the walls, or framed girlie playing-card posters, or loos with reclaimed prison-cell doors. Their dining rooms don’t have acid-trip floral wallpaper or display cases with human skulls. The food’s good, with the talented Leon Smith sticking to tasty classics such as steak with triple-cooked chips. To win our romantic category, though, a hotel needs to score in the bedroom department. The five here are built into the eaves and beamed, with luxurious Volga linen on the extravagant beds and powerful rainforest showers. (The Farmhouse Suite has a freestanding copper bath.) Six more rooms and a cafe housed in outbuildings will arrive next year. Doubles from £130, B&B; artistresidenceoxford.co.uk A PADSTOW TOWNHOUSE CORNWALL There’s no sitting room, spa or gym in this conversion of two 18th-century townhouses. It’s all about the rooms and, usefully for romance, you won’t want to leave them: six vast, extravagant spaces with vintage hand-finished furniture, leather sofas, 40in curved Apple TVs and copper-edged bathtubs. The hotel is owned by Paul Ainsworth, whose Michelin-starred No 6 restaurant is a short walk down the hill. There are all manner of irresistible cakes and cheeses in the Kitchen Pantry, and a “maxi” bar in your room contains a deli’s worth of goodies. Doubles from £280, B&B; paul-ainsworth.co.uk Love nests SUNDAY TIMES OFFER SAVE 30% ON A TWO-NIGHT STAY AT ARTIST RESIDENCE OXFORDSHIRE Two nights in a double room, with breakfast and a welcome cocktail, start at £105pp* (usually £150pp), Sun-Thu, until Mar 31, excluding public and bank holidays. Book by Dec 1. Call 0330 160 5133, quoting ST100 B THE PIG AT COMBE DEVON The poshest of the Pig hotels, this is a grade I listed Elizabethan manor house surrounded by 3,500 acres of the Otter Valley’s hills. It has a buzzing bar and theatrical sitting rooms, and everywhere you’ll find the Pig’s trademark collision of colours, patterns and furniture styles. The 17 rooms in the main house are kitted out with super-king beds and botanical illustrations. The rest, in the courtyard and coach house, reached via a walled garden, are even better. There’s a spa, and the wood-panelled dining room is charming; the Jurassic Coast is 10 miles south, so expect plenty of fish on the menu. Doubles from £145; thepighotel.com LET OFF STEAM The seductive Oak suite at Foxhill Manor inside and it looks more like a ryokan. While industrial chic reigns elsewhere in EC2, this is a masterclass in Japanese seduction: low-level seating, oriental screens, acres of black marble and bronze. The 150 bedrooms have the same Zen sensibility, with clever touches like wall screens decorated by local street artists. This being Nobu, the food in the basement bar/restaurant isn’t too shabby, either. Doubles from £249, B&B; nobuhotelshoreditch.com E THE NORTHGATE SUFFOLK NEW OPENING This Victorian townhouse in Bury St Edmunds has that home-from-home ambience down pat. Reception is tucked away, so the place doesn’t feel like a standard hotel. In the conservatory, which overlooks a suntrap terrace, you can happily waste hours with the papers. There’s a softly lit bar with a copper counter and banquette seating. The nine bedrooms are named after Bury politicians, but sexier touches include rococo furniture, button-backed bedheads, huge beds and fake fur throws. Some have original fireplaces. Doubles from £120, B&B; thenorthgate.com FOXHILL MANOR WORCESTERSHIRE G SAVE 35% ON A TWO-NIGHT STAY AT THE SWAN AT HAY Two nights in a double room, dinner, breakfast and two welcome glasses of prosecco, with late checkout, start at £149pp* (down from £228pp), Sun-Thu, until Mar 31. Call 0330 160 5132, quoting ST100 D NOBU HOTEL SHOREDITCH LONDON EC2 NEW OPENING unfold through the window while the faff of check-in is taken care of. There are eight bedrooms, each one unique: Cupid has a four-poster and side-by-side freestanding baths. There’s a cinema for reruns of Casablanca or Gone with the Wind, and dinner can be eaten pretty much anywhere that takes your fancy. Doubles from £380, B&B; foxhillmanor.com H THE BOWER HOUSE WARWICKSHIRE NEW OPENING The man behind this excellent restaurant with rooms in Shipston-on-Stour is Andrew Knight, a former editor of the Economist and the chairman of Times Newspapers. He has teamed up with his novelist daughter Afsaneh, and they’ve spent big and, on the available evidence, wisely. The five bedrooms are six-star havens with bespoke super-king beds. Some have huge shuttered Georgian windows, others light-filled bathrooms with Moorish tiles and marble-topped baths. Paul Merrony, who gained a loyal following at his Giaconda Dining Room, in London, oversees the menu. Doubles from £130, B&B; thebowerhouseshipston.com F C A B First impressions are important. At Foxhill Manor, a sophisticated Arts and Crafts mansion outside the Cotswold village of Broadway, they’re gathered with bubbly in hand in the stylish sitting room, watching the drama of the Malvern Hills SUNDAY TIMES OFFER C CROSS LANE HOUSE SOMERSET This medieval farmhouse in the Exmoor village of Allerford has been sensitively restored: original oak panels, a grand fireplace and huge flagstones in the sitting room-cum-bar keep the historical mood intact, aided by red velvet armchairs and candlelight. There are just six tables in the restaurant, so the vibe is cosy; the duck with green peppercorn sauce and truffle-oil mash hits the spot nicely after an Exmoor yomp. The four bedrooms mix and match the centuries with style: dainty chandeliers, antiques, throws and scatter cushions from Mulberry. Doubles from £150, B&B; crosslanehouse.com The extraordinary steel and glass facade brings to mind a Dalek on the run. Step F THE SWAN AT HAY POWYS More slow-burner than bodice-ripper, the Swan is set in a grade II listed Georgian house that had a much-needed revamp earlier this year: the 19 light-filled bedrooms steer just the right side of chintzy, with touch-control bedside lights and flower prints. Sexy additions include a claw-foot bath in room 5 and a four-poster in room 3. Pretty much all the food is sourced in Wales by the new chef, Alex Marston: don’t miss the nut-crusted halibut and creamy Welsh cheeses. Outside, there’s a pretty walled garden with views of the Brecon Beacons. Doubles from £125, B&B; swanathay.com The Pig at Combe . I G H E D I ODDFELLOWS ON THE PARK CHESHIRE NEW OPENING This offshoot of Oddfellows in Chester has taken over Bruntwood Hall, in Cheadle, the former mansion of Major James Edward Platt, of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry. He was responsible for many of the Victorian wow-factor features, including the galleried staircase in the lobby and a glorious stained-glass light well. In the 22 bedrooms, beams, fireplaces and herringbone floors are offset by dove and slate greys, and petrol blues. The Galloping Major restaurant has views over the 100-acre (public) Bruntwood Park, and there’s a dinky spa. Manchester is a 20-minute drive away. Doubles from £155, B&B; oddfellowsonthepark.com Overseas Travel Flights Portugal AFFINITY VILLAS Algarve. Private villas with pools. Online booking. www.affinityvillas.com 01428 727277 Dorset, Hants & IOW DORSET’S Finest Cottages Book on 0844 288 9012 dorsetcoastalcottages.com Wales Book your advertisement now Use our self-service website and follow the simple steps. thesundaytimes.co.uk/ advertise Overseas Travel Open 7 daysk a wee The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 19 Travel Best Places to Stay B&B THE BULL SHED WINNER HEREFORDSHIRE NEW OPENING memorable with bold colour schemes, striking pictures and easy, off-the-cuff hospitality. All three are on show in the purple library and the cocktail bar, where “anything from the Savoy Cocktail Book” can be mixed. The sense of style continues in the seven uncluttered bedrooms, which are furnished with statement beds and original antiques, complemented by dramatic views of the Wensleydale countryside. Doubles from £100, B&B; stowhouse.co.uk The setting of this boutique bolthole is sublime; the sleepy village of Colwall has a ringside seat overlooking the Malvern Hills, and you can enjoy a slap-up breakfast cooked by the owner, Amanda Burningham — a MasterChef quarter-finalist. At the other end of the day, her husband, Lee Jay, will direct you and your glass of wine to a seat in their romantic courtyard. The 150-year-old barn has been transformed into a Soho House-cool chillout zone, with A-frame beams, a central woodburner surrounded by oversized sofas, and an industrial-chic walkway suspended above. This leads to one of the five bedrooms, which have dinosaur-egg baths, fake-fur throws and underfloor heating. Doubles from £130, B&B; bullshedbarn.com Home sweet home A CHAPEL HOUSE CORNWALL This townhouse is the centrepiece of a photogenic Georgian street that sweeps down through bohemian Penzance to Mount’s Bay. The six rooms are spacious and high-spec, with enormous bespoke oak beds, Ercol furniture and bathrooms with toiletries made by an artisan outfit further up the road. Guests get an iPad loaded with top tourist tips from the owner, Susan Stewart, as well as a room-service function using FaceTime. Susan’s a superior home cook — breakfast includes devilled kidneys and homemade granola and jams. Doubles from £150, B&B; chapelhousepz.co.uk B SEAVISTA CORNWALL A hipster spot near Mawgan Porth, Seavista blurs the lines between guesthouse and hotel, offering in-room spa treatments and a turndown service. All seven bedrooms have zesty colour schemes, midcentury furniture and homemade flapjacks on tea trays. Downstairs is a cut above the average B&B — a retro-styled sitting room, an honesty bar and a deck with Atlantic views. Breakfast is local sausages, eggs and bacon, or superfood porridge and avocado on toast. Even the ascetic will love the night-time treat on their pillow: homemade orange and goji chocolates. Doubles from £75, B&B; seavista.co.uk I THE MALABAR CUMBRIA This magnificent six-room B&B in the Howgill Fells has an Indian theme. Graham, the owner, grew up in Kerala and lays on an extraordinary afternoon tea with 12 blends to try, as well as his own scones, lemon tarts and cherry brownies. His wife, Fiona, oversaw the decor, spoiling guests with giant beds, wool duvets, lacquered chests, elephant lamps and a freestanding bath in every room. How do you follow a night in such a space? The never-ending breakfast, taken at a communal table and including everything from wild boar bacon to grilled aubergine, is a great place to start. Doubles from £160, B&B; suites from £220, B&B; themalabar.co.uk E THE OLD FORGE DORSET This time-warp B&B in Cranborne Chase has a recreation of a 1930s garage workshop that recently featured in George Clarke’s Shed of the Year show. Breakfast, taken in the old wheelwright’s workshop, includes eggs from the resident chickens and apple juice from the family orchard. Four of the seven rooms are in the Old Forge; the rest are in a 1934 Romany wagon and two shepherd’s huts. All are furnished as though the 21st century never happened. Doubles from £90, B&B; theoldforgedorset.co.uk DALE VIEWS Stow House is as striking inside as out F THE DRIFTWOOD EAST SUSSEX NEW OPENING The owner of this Victorian townhouse in Bexhill-on-Sea is the hotelier Seng Loy and the designer is Mark Standing, whose CV includes the Great House at Sonning, our Budget winner this year. They have created six stylish bedrooms with exposed brick, button-backed leather bedheads, luxury linens and eye-catching throws on Hypnos beds. The shower rooms are small, but have rainforest showers and Noble Isle toiletries. The B&B is open to all comers for brunch and lunch, with breakfast served until 3pm. Doubles from £99, B&B; thedriftwoodbexhill.co.uk C THE OLD PARSONAGE CORNWALL NEW OPENING SUNDAY TIMES OFFER SAVE 20% AND RECEIVE A FREE BREAKFAST AT ECCLESTON SQUARE One night in a double room, breakfast and a complimentary minibar from £63pp* (down from £105pp), until Apr 30. Call 0330 160 5134, quoting ST100 This is a former naval lieutenant’s home five minutes from Mevagissey harbour, with a cheery blue and buttermilk facade. Breakfast is cooked to order, fresh milk is left in a flask outside your room every afternoon and there’s even a pillow menu. The five bedrooms have soundproofing, pocket-sprung mattresses and antique furniture. The award-winning Kernow Sausage Company, in Tregony, supplies the bacon, sausages and black pudding, and the owner, Iza, nips down to the harbour for her home-cooked kippers and kedgeree. Doubles from £75, B&B; oldparsonage.net D THE 25 DEVON Prince William was a regular at the country-house hotel that Andy and Julian Banner-Price once ran in Caernarfon. The couple wanted to downsize and offer a more personalised service: this adults-only, six-bedroom place in Torquay is the result, and it’s bursting with personality. Bedrooms have black-and-white stripes on the walls, tangerine chests of drawers and original fireplaces, with king-size or super-king beds and mist-free mirrors in the bathrooms. The award-winning breakfast menu offers everything from smoothies and a full English to eggs benedict. Doubles from £120, B&B; the25.uk B D A C I H E G ECCLESTON SQUARE HOTEL LONDON SW1 G A B&B in Belgravia? Well, after a fashion. This grade II listed townhouse slips into the category because it doesn’t have a restaurant. What it does have is some of the most hi-tech rooms in the capital. All have a Hästens, the Rolls-Royce of beds, which cost £12,000 each (see panel, page 7), as well as an iPad concierge, a free smartphone and a glass wall between bed and bathroom that turns opaque when you press a button. The free beer in the minibar is as welcome as the key to the square’s private garden, where there’s a tennis court. Doubles from £188, B&B; ecclestonsquarehotel.com F H STOW HOUSE NORTH YORKSHIRE There’s an arty, metropolitan flavour to this Victorian vicarage, a mile outside the village of Aysgarth. The owners, Sarah and Phil Bucknall, have made their B&B 22 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times Travel Best Places to Stay PUBS THE MASH INN WINNER BUCKINGHAMSHIRE NEW OPENING beds, wooden shutters shipped over from France and timber-slatted walls recycled from the floors of Provençal mansions. Downstairs feels like a charming bistro in the 18th arrondissement, with exposed brick walls and lace tablecloths. Add in cassoulet and crêpes Suzette on the menu, and all you’re missing is your change in euros. Doubles from £130, B&B; roebuckinnmobberley.co.uk The food may be gastronomic (there’s a 10-course tasting menu, with the likes of Orkney scallop and lamb leg with courgette), but this Chilterns boozer feels like a locals’ pub. The lights are low, the chat is animated and the bar is snug, with fairy lights and bottles of spirits crammed onto narrow shelves. The rooms, in the old landlord’s quarters, are lovely: well proportioned, with king-size beds and original beams. The £110 rate is a steal, though bigger rooms are £180. Breakfast, brilliantly, is brought to you in bed. Doubles from £110, B&B; themashinn.com H DERBY ARMS LANCASHIRE This creeper-clad 16th-century coach house on the edge of the Forest of Bowland offers outstanding value and super seafood from the Fleetwood fisherman Chris Neve. This is his daughter Joycelyn’s baby: she designed the six cosy bedrooms, where stout Lancashire beds are piled high with jazzy plaids and thick mohair blankets, and the bathrooms have valley views. The Derby welcomes muddy wellies and wet dogs, who get free homemade canine treats by the bowlful. Humans are well fed, too: Chris’s seafood is done with an Asian twist. Doubles from £95, B&B; derbyarmslongridge.co.uk A THE TALBOT INN SOMERSET Lavish lock-ins SUNDAY TIMES OFFER SAVE 16% AND RECEIVE DINNER WITH WINE AT THE TOWNHOUSE Two nights in a double room, breakfast and dinner with wine start at £150pp* (down from £180pp), SunThu, until Mar 31, excluding Dec 24, 25 and 31, Feb 14 and Mar 12-16. Call 0330 160 5129, quoting ST100 Four years ago, we made this fabulous 15th-century inn in Mells our first Hotel of the Year. It still has lashings of the charm and humour that initially attracted us, but, inevitably, room rates have gone up... by a fiver. All eight rooms have king-size or emperor beds, and only No 5 lacks a bath as well as a shower. Downstairs is a warren of cosy snugs, there’s a cobbled courtyard and a cookery school has been added. Breakfast features a DIY bloody-mary station. Doubles from £100, B&B; talbotinn.com B THE PHEASANT WEST BERKSHIRE BOTTOMS UP Cheeky artwork at the Roebuck Inn, Cheshire in the garden, designed by Jo Thompson, a Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist, all offering room service. The rooms in the pub are more bonkers, with wonky ceilings and trompe l’oeil windows. Doubles from £85, B&B; thebellinticehurst.com D THE BARROW HOUSE KENT NEW OPENING Jack Greenall, scion of the brewery dynasty, has done a great job renovating this 450-year-old inn. Small-batch gins are poured alongside real ales; truffle and parmesan fries line up with standard chips. Flora Soames, great-granddaughter of Winston Churchill, decorated the 11 rooms: never in the field of interior design have wallpapers been this striking, fabrics this zesty. Doubles from £110, B&B; thepheasant-inn.co.uk C H G F A B THE BELL EAST SUSSEX In the garden of this 13th-century pub in the village of Ticehurst, there’s a round wooden lodge with a halo of woven twigs. It’s called the Love Nest. Cringe if you must, but it’s gorgeous, with a stove and a copper bath. There are three more whimsical lodges What was the George Inn, in Egerton, is now the Barrow House, a community hub with great pub grub. Parents pop in for pastries after the school run, local clubs meet there and, on Friday nights, the village piles in for craft beers and music. The three bedrooms are painted in greens and oatmeals, with king-size beds and sloping ceilings. Doubles from £80, B&B; thebarrowhouse.co.uk I E CD THE FLITCH OF BACON ESSEX NEW OPENING E The six-course tasting menu costs £70 — but then the owner is Daniel Clifford, of Cambridge’s two-Michelin-starred Midsummer House restaurant. The vibe is relaxed, though, with whimsical touches such as a mounted pig’s head in the bar and a Citroën H van in the garden. Your room might have extravagant peacock-feather wallpaper, a four-poster bed or a rolltop bath. All have crystal chandeliers, lavish fabrics and vibrant striped carpets. Doubles from £135, B&B; flitchofbacon.co.uk F THE TOWNHOUSE WARWICKSHIRE NEW OPENING At this grade II listed part-Tudor inn in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon, the barside chat is always energetic, thanks to the thesp-heavy clientele. There’s plenty of drama downstairs, with flamboyant red and green decor, and leather banquettes. The 12 rooms — exposed beams, geometric wallpapers, framed Shakespeare quotes — come with complimentary port. Doubles from £130, B&B; stratfordtownhouse.co.uk G THE ROEBUCK INN CHESHIRE The owners of the Roebuck already had two pubs in the village of Mobberley. For their third, they went un peu français, and it works. The bedrooms have sleigh I THE STAR INN NORTH YORKSHIRE Andrew Pern has held a Michelin star at the Star for 13 years, all told, and his enthusiasm for this 14th-century chocolate box shows no sign of waning. He has some decent ingredients to play with, mind: moorland game, fish from Whitby, fruit and vegetables from the Wolds. The village, Harome, is on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, and so sleepy that you’re as likely to pass a peacock as any people on its footpaths. The nine bedrooms live in a clubby baronial lodge, with plenty of eccentric touches: in one, a bed is suspended from the beams; another has a piano; a third, a snooker table at the end of the sleigh bed. Doubles from £150, B&B; thestaratharome.co.uk This year’s Best Places to Stay were reviewed by Susan d’Arcy, Mia Aimaro Ogden, Stephen Bleach, Sue Bryant, Duncan Craig, Chris Haslam, Alessia Horwich, Martin Hemming, Jeremy Lazell, Kate Leahy, Sean Newsom and Alison Thomson. In some cases, writers were guests of the hotels. COMPETITION WIN A SHORT BREAK FOR TWO AT OUR HOTEL OF THE YEAR THE POINTER, BUCKS WHERE WAS I? You know how it is with celebrities, their every move followed. Hence, this is a 259-acre park where a playwright may have received a clip round the ear for stealing deer — the clip delivered by the park’s owner, born circa 1532. He’s thought to be the model for a justice in a 1600 work by the playwright. Earlier, I visited a motoring museum, six miles east-southeast. It started life in 1942 as an RAF airfield, later becoming home to Valiant jet squadrons. It closed in 1974. I now head eight miles northwest of the park to a village. First, though, I stop at a 25-mile-long canal to view a flight of 11 locks; it seems a lot of effort to raise boats 77ft. Later, at the village, I walk to its aqueduct, a scheduled ancient monument conveying barges over the road below. Next stop is a Roman town, four miles southwest, now almost entirely buried beneath a modern settlement. A small museum tells its story. Three miles south, meanwhile, is a second village, where the playwright may possibly (or not) have got inebriated. I, though, motor two miles southwest to a family’s ancestral home. I’m going to visit it because it’s a fabulous Palladian mansion. Not possibly. Not maybe. I know it for a fact. Chris Fautley THE QUESTIONS The prize must be taken before March 25, 2018, subject to availability and excluding public holidays, Valentine’s Day and December 21-January 10. 1 Who was the playwright? 2 What is the name of the Roman town? THE PRIZE The winner and a guest will stay for two nights, on a half-board basis, at the Pointer, in the village of Brill, Buckinghamshire, which today wins the title of Sunday Times Hotel of the Year 2017. Our full review of the Pointer appears on page 2 of this special issue. As well as the 18th-century pub and restaurant, the owner, David Howden, has the butcher’s next door, which specialises in longhorn beef reared on the restaurant’s 250-acre farm. The country-chic bedrooms HOW TO ENTER Only one entry per person, at thesundaytimes.co.uk/ wherewasi by Wednesday. Normal Times Newspapers rules apply. No correspondence will be entered into. — all muted greys and whites, with sisal carpets, sheepskin rugs and Hypnos beds — are set in a four-bedroom cottage just across the road. It’s a gorgeous place for a weekend break — the atmosphere is relaxed, the food superb, the surrounding village absurdly pretty. In fact, the cooking is so good, the Pointer has also won our Foodie category (see page 3). For more information, or to book, call 01844 238339 or visit thepointerbrill.co.uk. LAST WEEK’S PRIZE The answers are the Thames & Severn Canal and Cirencester. William Campbell of Fife wins a short break to Sorrento, Italy, with the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria and Sovereign.