Tag Archives: luxury

Cosy Cotswolds charm at The Painswick, Sunday Times Hotel of the Year

Being named The Sunday Times’ Hotel of the Year, which The Painswick was just a few weeks ago,  can be a double-edged sword. On the upside, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the news came out, bookings are through the roof and for a seven-month-old hotel, it is an incredible achievement.

painswick hotel
The Painswick was built in the 18th century and was once a vicarage

The downside to that, is that some guests expect the hotel, tucked into a corner of the charming Cotswolds village of Painswick, to be well, rather grander. The Painswick doesn’t have a multi-million pound spa, acres of  stunning gardens or a Michelin-starred restaurant, a private cinema (unlike its sister hotel and near neighbour Barnsley House) or an outdoor swimming pool (like its other Cotswolds relative, Calcot Manor.)

painswick hotel
Built on the side of a hill in Painswick village, the original building has been extended over the years and now includes a garden wing and terrace for weddings

People in search of the ultimate bells-and-whistles hotel experience – dress code for dinner, a turn-down service – might want to search elsewhere. But for those looking for a friendly, cosy break where you feel instantly at home, where staff will offer to pick you up from the local pubs after a country walk  and where you can fall asleep on the lounge sofa in front of the fire, The Painswick is perfect. Continue reading Cosy Cotswolds charm at The Painswick, Sunday Times Hotel of the Year

My stay at The Marylebone: a room with a view and a seriously nice roof terrace

A definite perk of reviewing luxury hotels is that ‘wow!’ feeling when you walk into a hotel bedroom for the first time and find something completely unexpected. Unlocking the door to my suite at The Marylebone in central London was one of those moments.

marylebone luxury hotel
Perfect for people-watching or sun-bathing…

It wasn’t sparked by the private staircase to my door off the main corridor, the wacky green circular coffee table or even the huge mirror which I later discovered was actually a television screen, but by discovering that I had my very own roof terrace.

Now it’s rare enough to find a room with a balcony in London but this was a proper terrace, decked out in the style of a ski chalet with wooden walls, cosy sofas with lots of cushions and a roaring (electric) fire, over which was another vast TV screen. A retractable roof and sides meant you could enjoy sun-bathing in a heatwave or stay warm in the winter, and while a view over the rooftops of central London are never going to match the Alps or rolling Tuscan hills, it was great fun seeing London from a totally new angle. Continue reading My stay at The Marylebone: a room with a view and a seriously nice roof terrace

Rockliffe Hall Darlington, County Durham – a relaxing spa escape

After being trapped in for hours in Bank Holiday roadworks hell, the five-star hotel Rockliffe Hall Darlington in in County Durham was a more than welcome sight. Set in 375 acres of parkland, the original building dates from the 1800s, but over the years the 61-room hotel has been extended to include a highly-rated 50,000 ft spa and three restaurants, two of which overlook its 18-hole Championship golf course.

rockliffe hall darlington
The rather lovely view from my bedroom

Thanks to the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the A1, my visit turned out to be a flying one, with no time for a round of golf or even a stroll round the lush-looking gardens.

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However I could admire them from my vast hotel room, which had a huge bed, massive amounts of storage space, a separate bath and shower and French windows which opened out onto my very own patio.

rockliffe hall darlington
The bedrooms are huge, with one or two King-sized beds

The rest of the hotel was equally spacious, with huge, carpeted corridors leading the way to the spa in one direction and the hotel bar in the other. Continue reading Rockliffe Hall Darlington, County Durham – a relaxing spa escape

A cooling terrace (and a cocktail or two) at The Bloomsbury, London

When it’s hot in the city, your first instinct might be to run for the hills (or the coast) but just steps from the sweltering heat of Tottenham Court Road tube station, The Bloomsbury hotel is a great spot in which to cool down.

Bloomsbury hotel London
The Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury hotel is a lovely spot whatever the weather

Its hidden secret is the Dalloway Terrace which runs along the side of the hotel: from the outside it doesn’t look like anything special, but those who ascend the steps will find a lovely two-tiered terrace with lush plants  – the perfect place in which to shelter from the boiling sun and enjoy afternoon tea, a cocktail or two, or even an al fresco dinner as night descends.

Bloomsbury hotel London
The grand lobby of the Bloomsbury hotel

Having endured a sweltering Tube journey across town, I was somewhat surprised to be asked: ‘Would you like a hot towel?’ when I checked in at reception. Rather than risk over-heating, I accepted a cooling mint water instead from the water coolers in the lobby and headed up to my room, a studio suite, which was on the fifth floor. Continue reading A cooling terrace (and a cocktail or two) at The Bloomsbury, London

The Gore Hotel: history, luxury and some rock and roll cocktails

My bedroom at The Gore hotel in Kensington was definitely one with the ‘wow’ factor. There were oil-paintings and gilt-edged mirrors and the bed itself was so vast and so high it felt as if I needed a footstool to climb aboard.

gore hotel kensington
My bedroom was rather grand (number 11, first floor)

The epic theme continued into the bathroom which was decked out in a pink marble effect with pillars, a high ceiling and a loo which was more like a throne – possibly something that Gandalf might use. It didn’t look the most comfortable of seats but was certainly one of the most memorable conveniences I’ve seen in a hotel room – or anywhere else, for that matter.

While some hotels try and emulate the look and feel of a historic country house, the Gore hotel, which opened in 1892, can’t help but feel seeped in history. Many of its paintings and furniture date back to the 19th or early 20th century, although it certainly doesn’t feel tired or dated.

gore hotel kensington
The Judy Garland suite, complete with red slippers

It has 50 individually-designed bedrooms, ranging from classic doubles to junior suites such as the Judy Garland (named after one of its famous guests), Dame Nellie and its top suite, the Tudor Room, has its own fireplace, minstrel’s gallery and 15th century four-poster bed. Continue reading The Gore Hotel: history, luxury and some rock and roll cocktails