I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in some lovely country house hotels recently – sadly, Tylney Hall was not one of them.
To clarify: as a building, the house is really impressive, a massive 300-year old pile in 66-acres of Hampshire countryside. The ceilings are high, the rooms are oak-panelled and hung with portraits, and as a structure goes, it is everything you could ask for if you want to stay somewhere that really looked the epitome of a country estate.
Unfortunately, the experience of staying in Tylney Hall was somewhat different. Its website claims, rather ungrammatically, that: ‘Hampshire hotels simply don’t come any grander or offer such heights of luxury anywhere in the UK.’
This doesn’t actually make much sense, which is fitting as a lot about Tylney Hall didn’t make much sense. I had arrived really looking forward to a lovely overnight stay with my mother and left feeling as if Fawlty Towers was alive and well and had just relocated 200 miles east. Continue reading Tylney Hall: great building but not a great stay→
It is always a good sign of a hotel restaurant if you could imagine going back there without being an overnight guest and Apero definitely fits that description.
Tucked beneath the Ampersand hotel and the South Kensington pavement – though designed in such as way that natural light still streams into the restaurant, Apero looks at first glance rather basic and simple, but offers a menu which is anything but.
The decor might be unfussy, with white tiles and exposed brick walls in what is basically a Victorian cellar, but the food is quirky and fun and made for a memorable evening.
I and my friend Lisa went for the £30-a-head sharing menu, a selection of dishes selected by the chef, and kicked proceedings off with a pair of Aperol spritz cocktails, which seemed appropriate.
Aperol , the Italian aperitif which is essentially Campari-lite, has been the ‘new big thing’ in cocktails for about a year now – a lifetime in cocktail terms – and so it seemed time for me to try one before the fad ran its course. Our Aperol spritzes (spritzi?) with Aperol, prosecco, soda water and a slice of orange were very refreshing and were indeed reminiscent of Campari but with a sweeter taste. Continue reading Review: Apero – below the street but still a cut above→
It was halfway through dinner at my first two-Michelin-starred restaurant experience at the Fischers Fritz in Berlin when I realised I was far more a ‘drinkie’ than a ‘foodie’ (assuming ‘drinkie is even a word.)
I was dining at the Fischers Fritz restaurant in the Regent Berlin, and had already been thoroughly over-excited at the arrival of my pre-dinner drink in the hotel bar. This was a Prince of Wales cocktail, a €23 Champagne cocktail which contained liberal servings of cognac and Grand Marnier, topped off with Angostura bitters and brown sugar and served rather incongruously in a silver goblet which grew almost freezing to the touch as the ice inside melted.
I was happily piling into that when I was invited into the dining room with the most wonderful phrase in the English language: ‘And you must really try our martini trolley.’
The traffic-and-commuter-saturated High Holborn usually has little to recommend it, being full of gridlocked buses and office workers doing the twice-daily rat run to and from the tube.
But an grand oasis of opulent charm and fine dining has just arrived and is well worth putting off the journey home for.
Holborn Dining Room, which opened just a few weeks ago, is located the old Pearl Assurance building, so it has all the high-ceiling’d formal grandeur of a former financial institution complete with marbled pillars.
There is something rather delightful about packing to spend the weekend in a hotel just four miles from your home.
It yields all the excitement and anticipation of a trip away without any of the angst and despair caused by realising you have to drive across London in the rush hour and then get snarled up on the Hammersmith flyover.
And the journey home! Many a relaxing weekend away has been ruined by roadworks on the M1, a lane closure on the A3, the sheer awfulness of driving through Wandsworth on a Sunday evening.
So to do away with all that unnecessary travelling seems to me to be utterly sensible.
Some would not agree. I recently had lunch with a tour operator who maintained that half the fun of a holiday is the fact you have to travel to get there, thus giving you a sense of achievement and new territories gained when you arrived at your destination.