The 50 Best British hotels
From romantic boltholes in the Scottish Highlands to chic city-centre boutiques, Sophie Morris offers the experts’ guide to the nation’s greatest places to get away from it all
Friday 19 April 2013
Tom Bell is the editor of Sawday’s Special Places British Hotels & Inns, sawdays.co.uk
Erin Boyd is the founder of dog-friendly travel company Chien Bleu, chienbleutravel.com
Tamara Heber-Percy is co-founder and one half of Mr & Mrs Smith, mrandmrssmith.com
Sophisticated Mayfair bolthole Brown’s is celebrating its 175th anniversary: book a night in one of its luxurious suites and enjoy a second night for £18.37 (it opened in 1837). Marvel at art in the Hix restaurant and the Martinis in the Donovan Bar. From £355 per room.
22 Albermarle Street, London W1S 4BP; 020 7493 6020; brownshotel.com
A country-house hotel with contemporary comfort – each individually designed room has a home-cinema system, a bath (sometimes two), shower and huge beds – to a grand 17th-century manor house. Grab a garden suite and watch the sunset from the pool. From £140 per room, with breakfast.
Barnsley, Cirencester, Glos GL7 5EE; 01285 745 000; prideofbritainhotels.com/barnsley_house_hotel_and_spa
“A sublime country house, standing on a tiny peninsular on Rutland Water,” says Tom. “Sofas by the fire in the panelled hall, a cocktail bar and a Michelin star in the dining room. Bedrooms have hand-stitched linen, mirrored armoires and marble bathrooms.” From £195 per room, including breakfast.
Ketton Road, Hambleton, Oakham, Rutland LE15 8TH; 01572 756991; hambletonhall.com
It is 50 years since the Park Lane Hilton – the chain’s first and flagship UK property – opened. The prestigious location and iconic soaring building has made it a landmark. With special anniversary packages. From £185 per room.
22 Park Lane, London W1K 1BE; 020 7493 8000; hilton.com/londonparklane
“Exceptional service, beautiful interiors and a sublime location overlooking Dedham Vale,” says Tom. “The suites are primed to pamper with exceptional bathrooms and fabulous beds.” From £210 per room, including breakfast.
Stratford Road, Dedham, Colchester, Essex CO7 6HN; 01206 322367; milsomhotels.com
“This 13th-century medieval hunting lodge has been reinvented as a stately rural getaway,” says Tamara. “It has a sweeping drive, spectacular gardens and an enormous spa – all the ingredients of the ultimate 21st-century country house retreat.” From £295 per room.
Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7FZ; 02380 287177; limewoodhotel.co.uk
“Luxurious country manors within easy access of London are always going to be in high demand, but Coworth Park in Berkshire is something special,” says Tamara. “It’s a grand but relaxed estate that strikes that delicate balance of luxury and ceremony without being overbearing.” From £306 per room.
Blacknest Road, Ascot, West Berks SL5 7SE; 01344 876600; coworthpark.com
This boutique hotel opened late 2012 in South Kensington and is handy for culture vultures visiting the V&A, Natural History Museum and Royal Albert Hall. It has 111 rooms and suites, a gym and two informal dining rooms serving modern Mediterranean food and afternoon tea. From £182 per room, with breakfast.
10 Harrington Road London SW7 3ER; 020 7589 5895; ampersandhotel.com
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
If you are after a luxury foodie retreat, Raymond Blanc’s hotel and restaurant should be top of your list. The two-Michelin star restaurant is the focus of most visits but be sure to explore the gardens. For a romantic retreat, try to get into the 15th century dovecote room or the saucy Lace suite – check out the risqué photography. From £545 per room, including breakfast.
1 Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford OX44 7PD; 01844 278881; manoir.com
Only 45 minutes from London, this luxury county house-style hotel offers a tranquil retreat set in Capability Brown’s sculpted gardens. There’s a famous golf course, a sumptuous spa and two restaurants. Ask for a tour of the spots used in famous films, including Layer Cake, Goldfinger and Bridget Jones’s Diary. From £285 per room.
Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire SL2 4PG; 01753 717171; stokepark.com
“The glorious restaurant has quite a reputation – and two Michelin stars – thanks to the efforts of super-chef Michael Caines,” says Tamara. “The wine list is one of the country’s most impressive and it’s set in the rugged loveliness of Dartmoor.” From £345 per room, with breakfast.
Chagford, Devon TQ13 8HH; gidleigh.com
The Crab at Chieveley
A much-loved gastropub/hotel, the Crab is one of the country’s lovelier seafood retreats, with an unrivalled selection of fish sourced daily from Brixham in Devon. Try the crab mac’n’cheese starter. The 14-room hotel is themed around famous resorts, including several with hot tubs. Ideal for a romantic retreat. From £85 per room, with breakfast.
Wantage Road, Newbury, West Berkshire RG20 8UE; 01635 247550; crabatchieveley.com
“The Pig in Hampshire has great local food, and does amazing things with pork,” says Tamara. “The menu changes daily according to what the kitchen’s own forager finds, and there’s a wood-fired oven that produces excellent pizzas and flatbread at the weekend. From £129 per room.
Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7QL; 0845 0779494; thepighotel.com
“Kilberry in Scotland’s Argyll and Bute offers oodles of rustic charm with exposed stone walls and an open fire that burns most nights,” says Tom. “The food is the big draw, Clare’s cooking is some of the best on the west coast.” From £200 per room, with dinner, breakfast.
Kilberry, Tarbert, Argyll & Bute, Scotland PA29 6YD; 01880 770223; kilberryinn.com
The Magdalen Chapter
This former Victorian eye hospital is a stylish contemporary hotel with a REN spa, indoor/outdoor pool and a great restaurant with former Riverford Field Kitchen chef Ben Bulger at the helm, overseen by Simon Hopkinson. Expect fresh local ingredients (River Exe mussels, Devon crab) and great value – the set menu starts at £12.95 for two courses. From £150 per room, with breakfast.
Magdalen Street, Exeter, Devon EX2 4HY; 01392 281000; themagdalenchapter.com
A secluded former water mill in the countryside between Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds. Chef Paul Foster (formerly of Sat Bains and Le Manoir) is winning plaudits for his creative menu with local produce and foraged ingredients. Ray wing, chicken skin and sea vegetables, whipped egg custard tart with brown butter pastry and pear, anyone? From £185 per room, with breakfast.
High Street, Tuddenham, Newmarket, Suffolk IP28 6SQ; 01638 713552; tuddenhammill.co.uk
Magpies Restaurant Horncastle
“A very charming restaurant with rooms in a little-known corner of England; focused on seasonal, local produce served in a fire-warmed dining room strung with twinkling lights,” explains Tom. “Bedrooms are romantic in pink, purple and gold, with sparkling showers and fluffy towels.” From £110 per room, including breakfast.
71-73 East Street, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6AA; 01507 527004; magpiesrestaurant.co.uk
Staying at family-run Arisaig House is like staying at a friend’s place and being treated to a sumptuous dinner party with wild mushrooms, local venision and fine wines. Rooms look out over Loch nan Ceall. From £145, with breakfast.
Beasdale, Arisaig, Invernessshire PH39 4NR; 01687 450730; arisaighouse.co.uk
The Black Swan
“This fabulous small hotel is hard to fault,” says Tom. “In the middle of a pretty village surrounded by stunning country. Inside, warm country interiors fit the mood perfectly: fresh flowers, games on the piano, books galore and excellent bedrooms.” From £80 per room, including breakfast.
Ravenstonedale, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria CA17 4NG; 015396 23204; blackswanhotel.com
“Weeke Barton is a converted long barn in Devon and is as stylish as it is laid back,” says Tamara. “Rooms are only £110 a night, including breakfast, so it’s fantastic value, and prices don’t go up for the holiday season, either.” From £110 per room, including breakfast.
Dunsford, Dartmoor, Devon EX6 7HH; 01647 253505; weekebarton.com
“This 16th-century inn stands on a cobbled walkway in a village lost down Devon’s tiny lanes,” says Tom. “Inside are beams, sofas, an open fire and oak panels. Six bedrooms with comfy beds.” From £65 per room, including breakfast.
Sandford, Crediton, Devon EX17 4LW; 01363 773676; lambinnsandford.co.uk
The Beckford Arms
“Open fires, local ales, comfy sofas and a cracking Sunday roast – you can’t ask much more from a gastropub with rooms than The Beckford Arms in Wiltshire,” says Tamara. “And not many pubs can claim such scenic surroundings for their own, or offer the wealth of outdoorsy activities.” From £95 per room, including breakfast.
Fonthill Gifford, Tisbury, Wiltshire SP3 6PX; 01747 870385; beckfordarms.com
The Castle at Taunton
“Spin through the revolving doors of this Saxon castle and you find a place befitting this gracious county town,” says Tom, “bridging the spirit of the past with the needs of the present. There’s a bar and brasserie and huge beds.” From £180 per room, with breakfast.
Castle Green, Taunton, Somerset TA1 1NF; 01823 272671; the-castle-hotel.com
Lauriston Court Hotel
Tripadvisor readers voted this 11-room hotel in Llandudno, north Wales, their favourite for 2013. The 4-star, family-owned hotel occupies a Victorian townhouse with a view of Llandudno Bay. From £70 per room, including breakfast.
11 North Parade, Llandudno LL30 2LP; 01492 877751; lauristoncourt.com
With a view:
Loch Ness Lodge
This part of Scotland lacks luxurious modern hotels and while this new hotel isn’t the prettiest building, it looks out over Loch Ness and offers a delicious locally sourced tasting menu – enjoy after drinks in the study looking for Nessie. From £170 per room, including breakfast.
Brachia, Loch Ness-side, Inverness IV3 8LA; 01456 459469; loch-ness-lodge.com
The stunning views around Windermere, one of the Lake District’s prettiest spots, come for free, but invest in a stay at Holbeck Ghyll and the landscapes will be augmented by top-drawer food and service. From £190 per room, including breakfast.
Holbeck Lane, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 1LU; 01539 432375; holbeckghyll.com
A comfortable and welcoming country-house hotel on the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey estate near Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales. The Michelin-starred Burlington restaurant serves stand-out posh nosh in a relaxed, intimate dining room, and the views across the rolling dales to the abbey ruins make any visit exceptional. From £230 per room, including breakfast.
Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorks BD23 6AJ; 01756 710441; thedevonshirearms.co.uk
The Atlantic Hotel
The art deco-style Atlantic Hotel sits in a fabulous plot, surrounded by rolling headland, protected sand dunes and with a dreamy vista across the Atlantic. The family-owned hotel has a Michelin-starred restaurant, and indoor and outdoor pools. From £100 per room, with breakfast.
Mont de la Pulente, St Brelade, Jersey JE3 8HE; 01534 744101; theatlantichotel.com
“Glengorm stands in 5,000 acres at the top of Mull with views that stretch across the water,” says Tom. “Step into a vast hall and an oak staircase sweeps you up to fabulous rooms; warm colours, antique furniture and excellent bathrooms.” From £130 per room, including breakfast.
Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Argyll & Bute, Scotland PA75 6QE; 01688 302321; glengormcastle.co.uk
“If you’re looking for small and intimate, they don’t come much cosier than Salt House in Cornwall,” says Tamara. “It has just two rooms, both with beautiful views over St Ives bay through floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel is simple but sleek, a great coastal corner to take in some sea air.” From £190 per room, with breakfast.
Venton Road, St Ives TR26 2AQ; 01736 791857; salthousestives.co.uk
Alexandra Hotel & Restaurant
“The view – a sweep up the Jurassic coast towards Portland Bill – is hard to beat,” says Tom. “As for the hotel, think stripped wooden floors and an airy bar. Beautiful rooms are the final treat.” From £177 per room, including breakfast.
Pound Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3HZ; 01297 442010; hotelalexandra.co.uk
“The hotel arm of Shoreditch House members’ club is a converted warehouse in London’s East End,” says Tamara. “The small rooms have balconies with city views and the rooftop has a pool, restaurant, bar and great views of London.” From £105 per room, with breakfast.
Shoreditch house, Ebor St, London E1 6AW; 020 7739 5040; shoreditchrooms.com
Sports-car manufacturers host events here because of its remote location, fine whisky selection and proximity to the empty Highland roads, Applescross and Skye. The rest of us will love it for its rustic charm, fine views and oldworld luxury. From £230 per room, with breakfast.
By Achnasheen, Wester Ross IV22 2EY; 01445 712253; thetorridon.com
A revamped coaching inn with 14 contemporary-rustic bedrooms (and bathrooms you’ll miss when you’re home) set above a bustling pub and dining room. The views don’t reach further than the village, but it’s an indulgent spot to base a tour of the idyllic Cotwolds country. From £130 per room, including breakfast.
West End, Northleach, Glos GL54 3EZ; 01451 860244; cotswoldswheatsheaf.com
“The ultimate country sporting estate with spa, indoor pool, tennis, golf,” says Erin. “Your dog can roam the 500 magnificent acres of Capability Brown landscaped grounds with you and slumber by your side in the drawing room adorned with damask from the Queen’s own textile supplier.” From £180 per room, including breakfast.
Stapleford, Nr Melton Mowbray, Leics LE14 2EF; 01572 787700; staplefordpark.com
“Perched above one of the best, year-round dog-friendly beaches – think sandy expanses perfect for romping – and bordered by the Southwest Coastal Path, it’s ideal for a cosy winter weekend or an extended summer break (there’s a surf school on the premises).” says Erin. “The five-star luxury seafront cottages on the site get all the same luxury services as the hotel.” From £79 per room, including breakfast.
Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall TR7 1EW; 01637 872211; headlandhotel.co.uk
“This relaxed bolthole tucked into the cliffs of the English Riviera is a must, blending the best of English gastro-pub inn with boutique brilliance,” says Erin. “You are never more than a window away from a view of the water, nor a stone’s throw from unbelievable walks, and the staff will make you and your dog feel at home the moment you step through the door.” From £175 per room.
Beach Road, Babbacombe TQ1 3LX; 01803 327110; caryarms.co.uk
Bishopstrow Hotel and Spa
“The glass-fronted walls reveal sweeping views of the serene Wiltshire countryside and rich and bold interiors – this is no ordinary country house experience,” says Erin. “Enjoy a swim in the pool, followed by drinks with in the lounge or, as the weather improves, a picnic with on the hotel’s private stretch of the Wylye River.” From £149 per room, with breakfast.
Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 9HH; bishopstrow.co.uk
Old Swan and Minster Mill
“A laid-back luxury country house hotel/gastro-pub oozing charm, with seasonal roaring fires or al fresco dining, a river for the dog to swim in, and the best walking guide we’ve seen,” says Erin. “The special rooms have private terraces and marshmallows for roasting over your own fire-pit.” From £135 per room, with breakfast.
School Hill, Minster Lovell, Witney, Oxon OX29 ORN; 01993 774441; oldswanandminstermill.com
If you have high-end business in Mayfair, this is just the spot. The suites are fitted out in opulent Hollywood decor. The cocktail menu and service at the Crystal Bar and heated cigar terrace will win over clients. From £390 per room.
11 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LY; 020 7235 3535; thewellesley.co.uk
The rooms are comfortable, the reception welcoming and the SenSpa wonderful to unwind in if you are in the New Forest with work. There is a touch of Fawlty Towers about the restaurant but the menu is locally sourced and the service warm. From £129, with breakfast
Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire SO42 7RH; 01590 623551; careysmanor.com
Crowne Plaza London, The City
An impressive listed building near the river by Temple and Blackfriars. Luxurious rooms, huge beds and great views are complemented by the two restaurants – Chinese and Italian – and the Voltaire bar, in the vaults. From £182 per room.
19 New Bridge St, London EC4V 6DB; 0871 942 9190; cplondoncityhotel.co.uk
“A rainbow-coloured contrast to the famously grey city of Edinburgh,” Tamara says. “Just off the Royal Mile, it’s right in the heart of the action, though with so much on offer – a great restaurant and drinking den plus myriad mod cons – there’s no reason to leave.” From £140 per room.
1 George 1V Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1AD; 0131 2206666; hotelmissoni.com
“On the smart side of town, close to the castle, and with exceptional views,” says Tom. “There’s a well-designed small gym and king-size beds. A cool little bar, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” From £125 per room, with breakfast.
Standard Hill, Park Row, Nottingham NG1 6GN; 0115 988 1900; hartsnottingham.co.uk
“Classy, contemporary and opulent, in a brilliant location,” says Tamara. “It has all the facilities business travellers rely on: wifi, a meeting suite, excellent restaurant, room service and knockout martinis.” From £259 per room.
60 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5BB; 020 7368 5700; baglionihotels.com
Claridge’s was famous before it opened its doors to the BBC for its Inside Claridge’s documentary. Now curious fans are flocking in hope of a glimpse of the loyal and long-serving staff, but it retains its refined charm and impeccable service. From £300 per room.
49 Brook Street, London W1K 4HR; 020 7629 8860; claridges.co.uk
“It ticks all the boxes: award-winning spa, Michelin-starred restaurant, 500-acre estate and an equestrian centre,” says Tamara. “The waiters have that indefinable magic that epitomises exceptional service.” From £195 per room.
Colerne SN14 8AZ; 01225 742777
Killiecrankie House Hotel
“No Highland fling would be complete without a night here: tartan in the dining room and 52 malts at the bar,” says Tom. “The snug sitting room has a fire in winter and in summer, doors open to the garden. Bedrooms in warm colours and chic fabrics.” From £230 per room, with dinner, breakfast.
Killiecrankie, Pitlochry, Perth & Kinross PH16 5LG; 01796 473220; killiecrankiehotel.co.uk
“I love its old-school elegance and sharp modern sensibility,” says Tamara. “The restaurant serves traditional British dishes in a country club atmosphere, but it’s all too well-bred to be stuffy.” From £325 per room.
New Milton, New Forest, Hampshire; 01425 275341; chewtonglen.com
“The Nare sits above Gerrans Bay with sublime views,” says Tom. “It has two swimming pools, croquet and tennis, crackling fires, a cocktail bar, and even a billiard room/ library. The bedrooms are gorgeous.” From £270 per room, with breakfast
Carne Beach, Veryan-in-Roseland, Truro, Cornwall TR2 5PF; 01872 501111; narehotel.co.uk
Best for... A great Martini
Browns - This is one of the most-sophisticated hotels in the capital. Drinks in the Donovan Bar are a joy before enjoying the fine art and fine food at the Hix restaurant
Best for... Island views
Glengorm Castle - This 19th-century hall is four miles from Tobermory and has stunning views of the Sound of Mull and the Isles of Egg and Rum
Best for... Games galore
Nare Hotel - If you tire of the stunning views of Gerrans Bay you can always retreat to the games rooms for pool and billiards. More active guests will enjoy the pool and croquet lawn
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