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.
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→
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the wildly inconsistent British summer, I was extremely fortunate to have timed my stay at the Alexandra hotel, Lyme Regis for one of the hottest days of the year so far. While the hotel would be a perfectly nice place to stay in during all sorts of weather, it really comes into its own when the sun is shining.
For a start, it boasts a vast lawn at the back of the hotel where guests and visitors can have lunch, afternoon tea or just soak up the rays on one of several cushioned loungers dotted about. Dinner is served in a long glass-walled conservatory which overlooks the lawn and is a great place to watch the sun go down.
ALadyofLeisure.com is the hotel, restaurant and spa reviews website from national newspaper journalist Sarah Bridge, read by thousands of industry professionals and travel enthusiasts every month.
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Lords of the Manor hotel, Upper Slaughter, Cotswolds
My heart often sinks when I discover my room is in a separate building to the main hotel – this usually implies some modern, soulless extension – but at Sopwell House luxury hotel near St Albans, our room’s outside location was really quite special.
Just across from the hotel reception, a tap of our room card opened up a gate beyond which was a totally enclosed courtyard – the newly refurbished mews suites. Around the outside of the courtyard were the suites themselves, looking like designer apartments, while in the space itself was a hot tub, sofas, trees and water features. It was like having your very own VIP enclosure.
The five-star Sopwell House hotel is no stranger to VIPs, particularly of the footballing kind, and indeed just the night before my visit the entire England football team had attended a gala dinner at the hotel with sporting legend Pele. I felt rather like a VIP myself when I entered my room, which is one of the nicest I’ve ever stayed in.
It isn’t easy to stand out among such a competitive field – I’m talking about the ‘gorgeous Cotswold hotels’ market, of which there are many – but the award-winning boutique hotel Dormy House more than meets the challenge. From the moment I walked in the door and saw the cosy sofas and roaring fireplaces, to the friendly welcome at reception and then finally, arrived at The Snug, one of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, I knew I was in for a treat.
Located on the massive Farncombe Estate, which is perched on the hills above Broadway, one of the prettiest towns in the the Cotswolds, Dormy House was originally a 17th century farmhouse and has been owned by the same family since 1977. However while the building is charming, it is certainly not fusty or old-fashioned, and the spa – handily in the main building – could hardly be more modern, with its sleek 16-metre infinity pool, salt steam room, tropical shower, glass-fronted Finnish sauna and outdoor hot tub.
The bathroom was immaculate, with a massive walk-in shower and the deepest bath I have even bathed in: a massive tin tub in which I soaked for a good hour, my magazine propped up on the soap dish stand and sipping a pre-dinner G&T while listening to music from the bedside radio. Even the in-room iPod, which isn’t usually my type of thing, scored points because you could easily order cocktails through it – and the little room owl was very cute.
We’d decided to eat in the more informal Potting Shed at the front of the hotel as breakfast would be in the Garden Room restaurant, and it was certainly a more relaxed atmosphere, with music blaring out from the walls (they did turn it down) and a friendly but casual service. I started with wild mushrooms on toast with crispy duck egg (£8) while my guest had the potted Brixham crab with warm blinis (£9) – the crab was delicious and the wild mushrooms were divine, perfect for a cold wintry evening.