Tag Archives: hotels

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

Valet parking – it’s supposed to be great but makes me panic

This is probably one of those things that Americans are much better at than the Brits (they certainly have more practice at it), but valet parking always sends me into a panic.

valet parking
Las Vegas, possibly the epicentre of valet parking…
valet parking
… while in the Cotswolds, valet parking is on a smaller scale

On the face of it, arriving at a hotel and having someone offer to park your car for you is a pretty great idea. You can forget about driving round the block umpteen times to track down a parking space, or trying not to scrape against a nearby wall as you shoe-horn your car into the last space in the car park. Then, when it’s time to depart, you can just hover with your bags by the front door while your car is magically summoned for you.

In reality however, when I arrive at a hotel, I’ve usually been charging along a motorway or winding county lanes for several hours and my head is still somewhere on the M4. Someone dashing out of the front door and offering to take my car off me just completely throws me. What’s worse, is that the car is usually an utter tip.

valet parking cliveden
My arrival at the rather posh Cliveden hotel. The man who is to park my car is kindly disguising his horror at driving such an embarrassing car…

Continue reading Valet parking – it’s supposed to be great but makes me panic

Baths in hotel bedrooms and transparent loo doors – treat or travesty?

Are bathrooms in bedrooms a great hotel treat or just a ghastly design nonsense?

I only ask because almost every hotel I’ve stayed in recently has at least one room where the bath is in the bedroom – at the foot of the bed, sometimes, or in pride of place by the window – and I just think it would be the weirdest thing to have a bath while someone is in bed trying to watch the telly. Or am I missing out on a fabulous romantic experience?

A step way, way too far for me though is taking intimacy one stage further, and having open-plan bathrooms – watch me in the shower! – or even – the horror – of transparent loo doors. This can NEVER be a good thing, surely? Have a look and see what you think…

It’s one of Dormy House’s smartest bedrooms – but look, there’s a bath just around the corner…

baths in hotel bedrooms

Just a few miles away it’s the equally lovely Barnsley House – but there’s a bath right at the end of the bed…

Barnsley House room with bath

At Dormy House’s neighbour, the award-winning luxury hotel Foxhill Manor, they’ve got two baths, facing each other (and yes, they’re both in the bedroom)

two baths

Here’s the wedding suite at Burley Manor in the New Forest… and yes, there’s a bath in the bedroom. Continue reading Baths in hotel bedrooms and transparent loo doors – treat or travesty?

The best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds – A Lady of Leisure’s favourite five

Searching for luxury hotels among the beautiful rolling hills of the Cotswolds may sound like an easy task – there seems to be one round every corner. However with so many to chose from, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. With most insisting on a two-night stay at weekends, you want to be assured that you’re spending your money wisely and that you’re going to have a truly memorable stay. So after extensive research, here’s A Lady of Leisure’s best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds. Do you agree or are there others on your list?

Barnsley House, Barnsley House, Barnsley, Gloucestershire 
01285 740000

barnsley house stay

With 18 rooms, a spa, private cinema, landscaped gardens and superb restaurant, you are practically guaranteed a fabulous stay at Barnsley House. The rooms are beautifully decorated in a simple but classic style, the staff are friendly and efficient, the food is first-class and the cinema (which you can hire for free) is really indulgent, with leather seats and freshly popped popcorn. The grounds aren’t vast and the spa isn’t the biggest in the hotels on my list, but there is a style and charm about Barnsley House which is impossible to resist. The hotel also owns the Village Pub just a short walk away.
Rooms from £200 per room per night

Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa, Easton Grey,
Malmesbury, Wiltshire 01666 822 888

WM ext2

If it’s indulgence you’re after, then you’ve come to the right place. Whatley Manor is right on the edge of the Cotswolds but you won’t be leaving here to go sight-seeing – there’s too much relaxing to be done. The spa is surprisingly extensive, with a hydrotherapy pool, four separate sauna/steam rooms, outdoor loungers, treatment rooms and even a mud chamber – you could easily spend the day Continue reading The best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds – A Lady of Leisure’s favourite five

Las Vegas – rain or shine, there’s more to do than gambling

It was my fourth visit to Las Vegas, but the first time I’d seen it raining on the famous Strip. Unsurprisingly, Vegas, being in the Mojave desert, isn’t used to rain. Neither were the holidaymakers, picking their way in their flipflops and sandals through the huge puddles which instantly formed on the sidewalks.

Las Vegas things to do
This is usually as bad as the weather gets in Las Vegas…

Some had come prepared for rain (they were probably British) and so we were treated to the rare sight of umbrellas hoisted next to the famous Bellagio hotel. Some people had sensibly brought rain jackets, while the majority of people had just shorts, t-shirts and massive plastic drinking bottles of alcohol to keep them warm. Hikers to the nearby Red Rock Canyon reported seeing waterfalls in places which had never seen water before.

Las Vegas things to do
Rain on the Strip – even more unlikely than seeing the Eiffel Tower in a Nevada desert
Las Vegas things to do
Huge puddles quickly formed on the famous Strip

Thankfully Vegas is not the kind of place to be daunted by unseasonal weather. The vast majority of people who go to gamble in its many casinos are usually unaware of whether it is day or night outside, so a quick downpour would have certainly passed them by. As for the rest of us, there were more than enough things to keep us occupied. The Vegas Uncork’d food festival was going on for a start – I’d been there last year. But here is a selection of the places I visited during my latest week in Sin City:

Las Vegas casinos and hotels

The Bellagio

One of the plushest hotels on the Strip and certainly the nicest in my opinion. My vast bedroom had a perfect view of the famous fountains which danced day and night – I never tired of watching them.

Las Vegas things to do
They dance by day…
Las Vegas things to do
… and they dance at night

Downstairs there’s the casino where free cocktails are liberally provided to gamblers, and there’s a huge pool complex too with five vast if sedate pools – if it’s pumping music and pool parties you’re after, you need to relocate. It’s all very smart throughout the Bellagio, with lush carpets, wide corridors, soothing piped music and even the world’s largest chocolate fountain and while it isn’t for those on a budget, it’s certainly worth it if you fancy feeling like a millionaire for your stay.

Las Vegas things to do
One of five huge pools at the Bellagio (thankfully the weather had returned to normal by then)
Las Vegas things to do
Part of the world’s largest chocolate fountain (and that’s official)

Continue reading Las Vegas – rain or shine, there’s more to do than gambling

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

 

A coffee and a chat with Sir Rocco Forte on politics, religion and hotels

Sir Rocco Forte is not shy about revealing his political opinions.  As the nation approaches its most closely fought General Election in living memory, the veteran hotelier lets fly left and right – slamming Miliband, backing Cameron, mocking European bureaucrats and defending zero-hours contracts. He may be 70, but there is no sign of his energy waning.

It is all very heady stuff for a Monday morning, sitting as we are in the opulent surroundings of the Kipling Suite at Brown’s Hotel in London’s Mayfair.

‘The Conservatives are the best bet we have at the moment,’ he declares. ‘I wouldn’t say I was a big fan, but we’ve seen the economy growing faster than any other; they’ve created a load of jobs.’

rocco forte interview
Sir Rocco Forte is approaching 70 but retirement is the last thing on his mind

Continue reading A coffee and a chat with Sir Rocco Forte on politics, religion and hotels