Five Best: School House Hotels

Rhiannon Batten discovers relaxation is king where the three Rs once ruled

The latest project from the people behind Manchester's Didsbury House and Eleven Didsbury Park hotels, Great John Street opened last June. The duplex suites are quirky but comfortable, with tiled bathrooms, roll-top baths and rain- head showers. Guests can make the most of a cocktail bar, roof garden and three function rooms: the Boys' Classroom, Girls' Classroom and Headmaster's Office. Detention has never been so much fun.

Great John Street Hotel, Great John Street, Manchester (0161-831 3211; www.greatjohnstreet.co.uk). Suites start at £175 room only, but can drop to £110 if you book last minute.

College Hotel, The Netherlands

Opened just over a year ago, Amsterdam's 40-bedroom College Hotel is set in a 19th-century school building and also operates as a training facility for students of the Amsterdam Hotel Management School. Don't expect to find satchels and pencil cases lying around, though. With its smart restaurant, groovy bar and massage treatments, it looks and feels like any other top-end boutique hotel. Decor-wise, too, while the exterior is of enough merit to be listed on the city's register of historic buildings, its elegant taupe, orange and white interiors are all about warm, modern design.

College Hotel, 1 Roelof Hartstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (00 31 20 571 1511; www.thesteingroup.com). Doubles start at €245 (£175), room only, though website specials are often a good €100 (£71) less than that.

Savoy Hotel, India

Not so much old school as antique, the Savoy was once a school for European children. Its relentless colonial outlook (painting classes "for ladies" and dress codes at dinner) may not be to all tastes but the location is hard to beat. Set in the hill town of Ooty, the 19th-century cottages which house the guest rooms are surrounded by six acres of gardens and look out over some of India's greenest scenery. If your ideal holiday involves hiking, a spot of tennis, an ayurvedic massageor reading by the fire, this is for you.

The Savoy Hotel, 77 Sylks Road, Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India (00 91 423 244 4142; www.tajhotels.com). Doubles start at $85 (£47), including breakfast.

Capo d'Africa Italy

This former school turned design-minded hotel near the Colosseum hides its true (quite dazzling) colours behind the graceful exterior. Inside, its high-ceilinged rooms are a lesson in cosy modernism, with brightly-hued paintings, bedspreads and furniture pumping life into otherwise neutral furnishings. The real selling point, however, is its roof terrace. One suite has its own private terrace but other guests still get the views at breakfast, especially in the summer when the breakfast room spills on to the main terrace.

Hotel Capo d'Africa, Via Capo d'Africa 54, Rome, Italy (00 39 06 772 801; www.hotelcapodafrica.com). Doubles start at €150 (£102), including breakfast.

Rock House Hotel, Bahamas

Set on the harbour side of the island, over the years Rock House has developed from a B&B into a snazzy, 10-room hotel. The property has been thoroughly renovated by owner Wallace Tutt. Some of its rooms are set in what was a small Catholic school. If you want laid-back island life with good service, king-size beds and expensive linen sheets, this is the place.

Rock House Hotel, Bay Street, Harbour Island, Bahamas (00 1 242 333 2053; www.rockhousebahamas.com). Doubles start at $360 (£200), including breakfast. There's a three-night minimum stay.

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