Ashort walk from the cathedral tower, Derby's first boutique hotel opened four months ago. It captures the spirit of the city's ambitious reconstruction programme, which is carefully preserving the old, while altering the skyline with some striking new architecture.
The Cathedral Quarter Hotel fits firmly into the former category, having never found a permanent role in its 110-year history. It was built for the military, taken over by the County Council, and until two years ago housed a Police Museum in what is now the reception area. A painstaking, £5m refit has uncovered long-forgotten original features and added some bold contemporary flourishes. The police tape evidence library is now a bar, and the vault which once stored banknotes and ammunition has been converted into a wine cellar. The spa in the basement was never a police cell, but they've named it CLINK anyway.
First impressions are memorable. Sections of the lobby's Victorian mosaic floor have been saved and restored. A grand central staircase flows towards lofty, stained glass windows which flood the hall with light. The main challenge was repairing the pillars and stairs, which are made of Scagliola, a rare, Italian-made material that resembles marble. The owners tracked down one of the few remaining specialists to repair the dents and chips, and design a new reception desk in the same material.
Cathedral Quarter Hotel, 16 St Mary's Gate, Derby (01332 546080; www.cathedral quarterhotel.com). The hotel is on one of the finest streets in the old town, and many of the rooms offer views of the cathedral.
Time to station: Derby railway station is eight minutes walk away.
The hotel's 36 air-conditioned bedrooms and two suites are arranged over four floors. The rooms are spacious and airy, yet the rich, textured wallpaper and boldly-patterned curtains and cushions create a warm, intimate atmosphere.
Freebies: A range of Aveda toiletries, mineral water, tea and coffee-making facilities and a complimentary morning newspaper.
Keeping in touch: Every room has a direct dial phone, LCD TV, and free, cabled internet access. There's free wireless internet in the public areas of the ground floor.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Double rooms, including breakfast, start at £120, based on two people sharing.
I'm not paying that: Thornhill Lodge (Thornhill Road; 01332 345318; www.thornhill-lodge.com) is an award-winning guesthouse about a mile from the city centre. All nine bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms. Doubles, including breakfast, from £68.