There is something gloriously untamed about the British seaside on a blustery day and when I arrived at The Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, the hotel building was receiving a severe battering from the elements. Situated just a few steps from the cobbled beach, the Brudenell is on the very edge of town and felt like the last sanctuary before the wildness of the neighbouring nature reserve and the long uninterrupted stretch of coastline south.
I dived inside for cover and was instantly transformed from a windswept traveller to a calm and serene guest, helped by the friendly reception staff and the happy chatter of people settling in for an afternoon’s relaxing. Being so close to the sea, the 44-bedroom 4-star luxury hotel has been known to flood on occasion, with the waves coming up through the main doors, but thankfully the weather wasn’t that extreme during our visit and people could enjoy coffee in the lounge or stronger stuff in the bar in warmth and comfort. Continue reading A seaside stay right on the Suffolk coast at The Brudenell hotel Aldeburgh→
Brockencote Hall hotel was the third hotel I’d visited from the Eden Hotel Collection and I wasn’t sure to expect, given that the first two hotels had been so different. Would it be as grand as the spectacular and imposing Bovey Castle, the 60-bedroom colossus in the heart of Dartmoor? Or would it be more like the boutique hotel Greenway in Cheltenham, with its high-end spa and Champagne bar?
Brockencote Hall, set in several acres of lush green Worcestershire countryside, turned out to be different from either of them but no less an almost perfect stay, with the comforts and treats of a luxury country house hotel, from immaculate rooms, impeccable service and great food. What it did have in common with its sister hotels however, was the staff who in all establishments have been at the top of their game, being as efficient and well-informed as you’d hope but with a huge amount of charm, friendliness, humour and total unflappability. There was the sense that they were genuinely pleased to be there, that they had all the time in the world to help out (even if they probably didn’t) and were all able to answer a flurry of questions thrown at them ranging from the age of the hotel to the provenance of the cheese served at dinner.
We bumped into one member of staff while exploring the hotel and being unable to find a way out and not only did he show us outside and suggest a walk across the field to the local village, but several hours later remembered our trip and told us more information about the area, while taking our food and drink orders and delivering everything flawlessly. Continue reading A charming luxury stay in Brockencote Hall hotel Worcestershire→
It isn’t often I embrace a hotel gym so wholeheartedly but there was something about the brand spanking new gym at Mallory Court which made it irresistible. England were playing rugby, so I could be inspired by their fitness feats from the treadmill, there was a lovely spa to sooth my tired limbs in afterwards and as we’d just come from feasting at sister hotel Brockencote Hall and were about to enjoy another hefty dinner here, it seemed sensible to try and work off a few calories in advance. And, excitingly, I had the gym all to myself, so I could pretend I was a millionaire working out in my own home.
All most unlike me, I have to say, and within a couple of hours normal service was resumed as I lounged in the outdoor hot tub and wondered whether to visit the pool, the steam room or the sauna next?
It was a bright February afternoon and the sun was shining on Mallory Court and its 10 acres, its gardens in hibernation now but promising to be stunning in summer. Mallory Court, part of the Eden Hotels Collection, is just a few miles from Warwick and its spectacular castle and was built around 100 years old, being converted from a family home into a hotel in 1976.
There was far more to Kesgrave Hall than I’d expected. Having just come from its sister hotel, Maison Talbooth, a luxurious, refined, relaxed country house with outdoor pool and 12 beautifully designed rooms, I wasn’t sure whether the 23-room Grade II-listed Kesgrave Hall would be on similar lines or be something far grander.
It turned out to be neither: instead it was a mixture of several styles which blended together to make a very different hotel experience. It was a wonderfully relaxed place to stay, with the bustling lounge, bar and restaurant built along ‘shabby-chic’ lines in the manner of The Pig hotel chain, all bare floorboards, Chesterfield sofas, Union Jack cushions and playing card picture frames and a focus on local ale and artisan gin.
The key to a memorable hotel stay is a great welcome and such was my arrival at the excellent Maison Talbooth hotel on the Essex/Suffolk border was that within ten minutes I felt utterly at home.
The signs were good from the start, with a smooth check-in done in seconds in the entrance hall on an iPod, rather than having to stand at a reception desk filling out endless forms. Even better, once I was shown to my room I was invited to explore the rest of the 12-bedroom hotel as all the as yet occupied rooms had their doors left open, meaning you could have a good old nose around.
In hotels as individually-designed as Maison Talbooth, it’s great to be able to see what else is on offer for future trips (or even to change if you prefer another room which is free) and so I spent a happy half hour wandering between Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Betjeman and other poets who had given their names to each bedroom. Framed poetry from the bedroom poet was hanging on the bedroom wall, so being in Wordsworth, we got On Westminster Bridge and Daffodils, while our neighbours got Shakespeare’s sonnets.