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The Sunday Times Travel - 15 October 2017

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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
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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.
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