Category Archives: Wellbeing

A treat for the mind and the body, Whatley Manor is one of the best hotels in the Cotswolds

Just when you think you’ve stayed in the best hotels in the Cotswolds, along comes Whatley Manor and tops the lot. From the moment the gates opened to reveal a beautiful cobbled courtyard, the entrance garlanded by wisteria and lavender, through to the spa, private cinema, two Michelin-starred restaurant and superb gardens, Whatley Manor didn’t disappoint in any way.

Whatley Manor
Whatley Manor is surrounded by 12 acres of land

Our suite, overlooking the lush garden terrace at the back of the hotel, was immaculate and managed to walk the line between modern luxury and classical English charm. There was ample storage space, a very smart bathroom, a good-sized bedroom and a contemporary-design lounge with vast sofa. Continue reading A treat for the mind and the body, Whatley Manor is one of the best hotels in the Cotswolds

A life of luxury for A Lady Of Leisure: The 2015 Review

From Michelin-starred dining to London’s most decadent pancake, grand country houses, brand new cruise ships, boutique hotels and celebrity hangouts (not to mention cocktail classes, private cinemas and hot tubs in the Cotswolds), it’s been a life of luxury for me and ALadyofLeisure.com.

I’ve reviewed just under 50 amazing hotels, restaurants, bars and holidays – which were read by several thousand unique readers a month, plus shared across Twitter and Facebook – and have loved writing about the very best of the British hospitality industry, from Llandudno to the English Channel and all points in between.

Huge thanks to all the venues that made such an exciting year possible (full list of reviews below) and looking forward to reviewing the best in hotels, restaurants, holidays, bars and all things leisure-related in 2016!

All the best,

Sarah
ALadyofLeisure.com
sarahbridge@aladyofleisure.com

Hotels

Gravetye Manor

Old-style charm in a perfect country setting – Bailiffscourt hotel and spa, West Sussex
Impossible not to love it – The Pig near Bath, Bath, Somerset
Relaxed country living Huntsham Court, North Devon
Location, location, locationCompleat Angler, Marlow
A home rather than a hotel: Cheval serviced apartments
A relaxing stay in Queen Elizabeth I’s bedroom: Spread Eagle, Midhurst, West Sussex
A classic country retreatAshdown Park, East Sussex
Calm behind the commuter chaos: Amba Hotel Charing Cross, London
Fine country living: The Grove, Hertfordshire
A stay with the Downton Abbey factorHartwell House, Buckinghamshire
A classic country house with Hollywood glamourLuton Hoo, Bedfordshire
Friendly, fun hotel on a budgetQbic London City hotel, Aldgate
Fine dining and an £1,600-a-night suiteSt James’s Hotel, London
£20,000 wine and the Judgement of Paris tasting eveningThe Vineyard, Newbury
Discovering hidden treasuresThe Stafford hotel, St James’s London
Fabulous foodie heaven in a beautiful settingGravetye Manor, Sussex
An oasis of loveliness miles from anywhereYnyshir Hall, Powys, Wales
An imposing building with impressive viewsBodysgallen Hall, Llandudno, Wales
A Capital place for a cocktail masterclass The Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge, London
Unshowy but smartThe Arch hotel, Marble Arch, London
A wonderfully cosy Cotswolds hideawayBarnsley House, Gloucestershire
A family-friendly escape in the Cotswolds countrysideCalcot Manor, Gloucestershire

Restaurants

restaurant

Lunch with a view – Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar, South Bank, London
A Hidden Culinary Gem – Bourne & Hollingsworth, EC1, London
High quality Italian food in Covent Garden – Four to Eight, London
Lacks Gordon Ramsay’s fireHeddon Street Kitchen, central London
Hop this way for good food – Rabbit restaurant, King’s Road, London
Posh pancakes for Shrove TuesdayThe Botanist, Sloane Square, London
New England comes to Fitzrovia – Lobster Kitchen, London
Art and food at the Saatchi Gallery – Gallery Restaurant, King’s Road, London
The friendliest tapas in Mayfair: El Pirata, Mayfair, London
Pisco Power! Getting into the Peruvian spirit – Senor Ceviche, Soho, London
A lunchtime favourite revisited: Olivo, Belgravia, London
A hat-trick of Konik’s Tail martinis at London’s best hotel bars – Duke’s, the Connaught and Claridges
An indulgent evening – Jimmy Garcia’s Secret Garden in Clapham
Lunch at London’s latest hotspotsKitty Fisher’s and Ham Yard Hotel
Smart, modern food with style – Percy and Founder’s, Fitzrovia, London
Hearty, meaty, boozyOne Sixty City, Liverpool Street, London
Loud, brash, bling and funSexy Fish, Berkeley Square, London

Holidays and spas

spa

Forget gambling in Las Vegas, it’s all about the food and drinkLas Vegas Uncork’d annual food festival
How to go solo without being lonely Mark Warner holiday, Rhodes
My first cruise – a week on P&O’s new cruise ship Britannia
A holiday for the mind and the bodySkyros holistic holiday, Greece
First glimpse of Britannia, P&O’s new cruise ship
The Queen launches Britannia
A hard day’s relaxingNirvana Spa, Reading

Films

Blue Steel and an Ikea room of pain: Fifty Shades of Grey
Bond is back! He’s bold, brilliant and bloody loud – Spectre

Interviews published in The Mail on Sunday

Travelodge chief executive Peter Gowers

‘My £125 million Travelodge transformation’ – Travelodge chief executive Peter Gowers
A coffee and a chat with Sir Rocco Forte on religion, politics and hotels
Sir Richard Branson on stunts, sky-diving, launching Virgin Hotels Chicago and being a grandfather

Travel pieces published in Mail Online

Photo of Paradise Beach Resort in Nevis, British West Indies.

A relaxing stay in Nevis, an exquisite island paradise
Why Gravetye is fast building a reputation as one of best foodie hotels in the UK
No coffee, no sweets, but a lot of hiking on the NuBeginnings bootcamp in Devon

 

Calcot Manor: a family-friendly escape to the Cotswolds

For those who love the idea of recently-reviewed boutique hotel Barnsley House (and who wouldn’t?) but are travelling with children in tow, its sister hotel Calcot Manor, just the other side of Circencester, is the ideal alternative. A country retreat with an element of luxury.

While you don’t have to have children to enjoy Calcot’s charms – lovely rooms, good food, massages and beauty treatments and so on, situated in the glorious Cotswolds countryside – you might find your morning swim isn’t quite as relaxing with small infants splashing about, or that breakfast time is somewhat louder than usual.

calcot manor
Calcot Manor dates back from the 14th century – the main building houses the restaurant and pub and some rooms, while others are in a separate building across the stone courtyard

However the prevalence of small ones does give it a more relaxed and casual air: there is a pub on one side of the house – The Gumstool – and the bright and airy Conservatory restaurant on the other – and they are more in the ‘wear whatever you feel comfortable in’ category rather than the smarter dress code of a boutique or grand country house hotel. Continue reading Calcot Manor: a family-friendly escape to the Cotswolds

Barnsley House – a wonderfully cosy Cotswolds hideaway

Within two minutes of arriving at Barnsley House I had completely fallen in love with it – and that’s before I’d even tried out the private cinema, outdoor hot tub or delicious food. All these things were yet to come, but the welcome itself was so cheerful and friendly that I already knew I was in for a treat.

barnsley house stay
Barnsley House is a 17th century stone manor with just 18 rooms

I arrived in the middle of what could be called controlled chaos: it was a wintery Saturday afternoon and a recent storm had cut all power to the local village. However Barnsley House had its own generator and so alone still had heat, power, light and all the essentials of life.

barnsley house stay
Barnsley House is surrounded by beautiful gardens

Staff were welcoming waifs and strays from nearby houses, sending out food parcels to guests on site, welcoming in cold and hungry visitors from the power-free Village Pub – also owned by Barnsley House – and had even found a dog basket to house someone’s dog temporarily in reception. There were roaring fires, and cosy sofas, and coffee with biscuits: the whole atmosphere was busy but still relaxed and welcoming, and instantly made you feel as if you were in safe hands. Continue reading Barnsley House – a wonderfully cosy Cotswolds hideaway

£20,000 wine and the Judgement of Paris at The Vineyard, Newbury

Halfway through our meal at The Vineyard, Newbury, I was beginning to wonder if I knew as much about wine as I thought I did. Not only could I not guess what grape variety I was drinking or what country it came from, I couldn’t even work out what colour it was, this particular wine being served in a black glass which made the wine inside completely invisible. Was it rosé…? Or maybe it was red? No, it was definitely rosé.

The answer was white. This was worrying. If my judgement was all over the place now, what on earth would it be like after I’d tried all 14 wines scheduled for the evening? Thankfully by the end of the meal I was so replete and content that I my success or otherwise in identifying the wines no longer seemed important – the evening had been so interesting and memorable that my lack of wine knowledge could be safely overlooked.

The Vineyard, Newbury
The Vineyard, Newbury, site of a nightly recreation of the Judgement of Paris wine-tasting

The Vineyard is a hotel serious about its wine – it hosts wine-tastings and wine courses and has 30,000 bottles in its cellars. Its ‘Judgement of Paris’ wine-tasting aims to replicate the notorious (for wine buffs) event in 1974 when Californian wines went up against French wines in a blind tasting.

To the shock of the French, and indeed much of the wine world, the Californian wines won the day, and Sir Peter Michael, owner of the Vineyard as well as a winery in California, has recreated the experience at his hotel. Continue reading £20,000 wine and the Judgement of Paris at The Vineyard, Newbury