The most exciting hotels opening in the UK and Ireland

Get ready to step up your staycation game this year, says Ianthe Butt

Thursday 03 February 2022 15:18 GMT
<p>Inhabit Queen’s Gardens is opening in Bayswater</p>

Inhabit Queen’s Gardens is opening in Bayswater

If 2021 was the year of the staycation, with many of us discovering a new-found love for destinations closer to home, the trend shows no signs of abating in 2022. From a restored Irish palace to a socially conscious bolthole in London and a maritime-inspired warehouse conversion in Wales, a host of exciting new properties are set to throw open their doors across the UK and Ireland over the next 12 months. Hotel expert Ianthe Butt rounds up the best of the lot.

The Dean, Galway, Ireland

Opening January 2022

The Dean it an arty opening in Galway

Starting the year with an arty bang is The Dean Galway, opening close to Eyre Square. The third property from the boutique brand behind quirky properties in Dublin and Cork is similarly creative. Walls are hung with art curated in partnership with the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), and the likes of bespoke neon by Domino Whisker sit inside restored and reimagined historic structures - a decommissioned railway tunnel and two stone cottages dating from the 1800s.

Melding Art Deco and modern, 101 bedrooms have crimson and sapphire velvet furniture, rainforest showers, record players and an “Irish munchie box” stocked with Tayto crisps. Galway’s already known for its innovative food scene, and the Dean’s rooftop restaurant “Sophie’s” – with views of Galway Bay and the Connemara mountains, and excellent wood-fired pizzas – and outpost of famed chicken wings joint Elephant & Castle are sure to cement that further.

As well as no single-use plastics, all energy is renewably sourced and beehives are being installed on the roof.

Rooms from £128, room only;

Inhabit Queen’s Gardens, Bayswater

Opening February/March 2022

Inhabit Queen’s Gardens prioritises wellbeing and environmental initiatives

When it touched down in 2019, Inhabit Hotels upped the eco bar with its beautiful, environmentally and socially conscious bolthole in London’s Paddington. The brand’s next act is Inhabit Queen’s Gardens, an 159-room hotel inside a crescent of 19th-century townhouses in Bayswater.

Their approach, with well-being and environmental initiatives and responsible hospitality at its core, reads like a roll call of things we’d love to see adopted more widely. Scandi-style decor using sustainable materials provides a calming backdrop to bespoke joinery by Goldfinger, known for its high-end, people and planet-positive design, and pretty, soft furnishings by Kalinko Homeware, which are made by artisans in Myanmar.

Community partnerships will be woven into the property’s fabric from the get-go, as will working with socially conscious businesses going forward. “The Kitchen” restaurant will serve a meat-free menu featuring the likes of saffron-pickled cauliflower and halloumi and burnt aubergine with tahini yoghurt. A quiet library space will have shelves lined with wellness, arts and nature-related books, and guests can head to an underground wellness area with fitness and yoga studio for GAIA spa treatments, and complimentary morning meditations.

Rooms from £170, room only;

Cashel Palace Hotel, Tipperary, Ireland

Opening March 2022

The spa at Cashel Palace Hotel

Nothing says grand getaway like slumbering in a former palace. Enter Palladian manor-turned-hotel Cashel Palace, a former archbishops’ country pile that’s now a hotel, which has been completely restored by conservation architects. Already known thanks to its location in the shadow of the Rock of Cashel, a limestone outcrop topped by medieval buildings, the formerly run-down hotel has been restored into an elegant 42-room affair, with ornate plasterwork, fireplaces and 19th-century windows.

As well as being able to enjoy views of the Rock from the gardens and spa’s indoor-outdoor pool, there are al fresco seaweed baths to soak in, and stress-busting Bamford and Skin by Olga treatments.

As for eating, there’s modern Irish at the Bishop’s Buttery – with most ingredients sourced from the pastures of the surrounding Golden Vale – plus the basement houses the original Guinness Bar (Richard Guinness brewed ale using hops from the palace’s garden in the 1740s, sowing the seeds of the brewing empire).

Horse riding fans can quiz the equine concierge about the best trots along Tipperary’s Thoroughbred Trail, and although the Palace was built some 290 years ago, the new Relais & Chateaux member has embraced contemporary sustainability best practices in construction, restoration, sourcing and energy.

Rooms from £295, B&B;

Gleneagles Townhouse, Edinburgh

Opening March 2022

Gleneagles Townhouse takes countryside chic to the city

Charging from the countryside and into the city comes the long-awaited Gleneagles Townhouse, with 33 rooms in the former Bank of Scotland in St Andrew’s Square. The team behind Scotland’s most famous hotel will transform the historic building with guest bedrooms peppered with grand touches - a decorative moulding here, a canopy crown headboard there - and communal spaces with antique lighting and ornamental gold details.

All-day restaurant The Spence, taking up residence in the old banking hall, will be home to Bloody Mary breakfasts and a bar under an impressive glass domed ceiling, while Lamplighters is set to be the spring’s new rooftop darling.

For a wellness hit, there will be fitness training and spa treatments in the former vault. Plus, the property will work with homeless charity Social Bite to support Edinburgh’s most vulnerable communities.

Also shaking up the Scottish scene are 30-room 100 Princes Street, Red Carnations Hotels’ first Scottish endeavour, which opens in the summer with explorer-inspired interiors and a whisky wall. In the autumn, more-is-more boutique hotel House of Gods will bring a hefty dose of 1920s maximalism to Glasgow.

Rates at Gleneagles Townhouse start from £495 (room only):

Rooms at 100 Princes Street from £295, room only;

Rooms at House of Gods from £120;

The Albion, Aberteifi, Wales

Opening March 2022

The Albion is opening at the banks of the River Teifi

Serving maritime pizzazz is The Albion, a 23-room property opening at the banks of the River Teifi in Cardigan this spring. It’s the first hotel from fforest, renowned for their eponymous nature retreat meets glampsite which has a cluster of eco-focused Japanese onsen domes, luxe garden shacks and a Georgian farmhouse in west Wales.

Spread across two former warehouses and riffing on its history, the Albion takes its name from the brig (ship) which carried families from Cardigan to St John’s in New Brunswick in 1819, on a 61-day journey to establish the first Welsh settlement in Canada. As much of the original heritage buildings as possible have been exposed, and stories from the past can be seen at every turn, including 19th-century pencil sketches of tall ships across internal lime walls.

As well as fforest’s signature down-to-earth luxury, expect cabin-inspired, woodsy bedrooms; bespoke furniture made from reclaimed materials and Welsh woollen blankets; and an on-site cocktail bar, coffee shop and co-working space.

Rooms from £125, B&B;

The Retreat at Elcot Park, Berkshire

Opening Spring 2022

The Retreat at Elcot Park

With its exuberant interiors and top-notch restaurants, The Mitre in Hampton Court was one of 2020’s most joyful hotel openings, and the second property from The Signet Collection is set to cause just as much of a stir. Housed in a Grade II-listed 18th-century building, which happens to have been the childhood home of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, the hotel has 55 bedrooms, each styled with “a quirky British sensibility”, two restaurants – pan Asian and all-day brasserie – overseen by Ronnie Kimbugwe, and a whisky tasting room.

The Retreat will also have its own health club and retail space with bakery, hair salon, wine shop and coffee house, as well as 16-acre grounds, a walled garden, tennis courts, and - the piece de resistance - an infinity pool with Whispering Angel pool bar.

Just a 45-minute train ride from London, it’s going to be an ideal base to explore the Wessex Downs, or visit nearby Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame.

Rooms from £180, B&B;

Boys Hall, Ashford, Kent

Opening May 2022

Boys Hall is undergoing a full restoration

Another captivating manor house getting a 2022 reboot is 17th-century Jacobean pile Boys Hall in Ashford, masterminded by hospitality heavyweights Bradley and Kristie Lomas - he the former operations director at East London Pub co, she the founder of Drink, Shop & Do and members’ club Keystone Crescent in King’s Cross. The couple left London at the end of 2019 to restore the wisteria-clad house – and former B&B – with “a real reverence for the past”, and come summer 2022 the doors will open to reveal 10 bedrooms with soothing garden-inspired green and blue palettes, enhancing heritage timber frames, stone mullions and panelling.

Decor, inspired by treasures stumbled upon during the transformation – such as antique pottery fragments and coloured glass bottles, and the property’s smuggling history – will include richly printed feather and fruit-filled fabrics and period pieces such as a Ships Galleon figurehead and Victorian chairs.

A 70-cover restaurant and outdoor dining terrace will utilise produce from the best suppliers in the Garden of England, and focus on open-fire cooking. As for sustainability, continuous improvement is the ethos: an oil burner has been converted to biomass, grey water will be recycled, and EV charging points have been installed. And, for every guest who stays in the first year, a tree will be planted in the gardens.

Rooms from £160, B&B;

The Fox at Oddington, the Cotswolds

Opening June 2022

The Fox at Oddington will be set in sweeping countryside

Famed for their sprawling estate-meets organic farm, where top-notch produce is grown with sustainable practises, the Daylesford team behind poster child for gastropubs with swish rooms, The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, is opening a sister pub-with-rooms, The Fox at Oddington.

The cosy pub, already popular with the Cotswolds crowd as a stop-off mid-rural ramble, will continue serving traditional pub grub - made with organic fare, mostly from the Daylesford Farm. In addition, six rooms are being transformed with aplomb by Carole Bamford, and there will be a brand new terrace for al-fresco dining.

Sustainability will sit front and centre, with interiors which preserve the original buildings and stables, rich in local Cotswold stone and reclaimed oak, and bathrooms stocked with Bamford Organics amenities.

A standalone cottage with a private walled garden will sit just opposite the pub, which will suit families after a bit of privacy.

Rooms from £tbc;

Raffles London at The OWO, London

Opening late 2022

Raffles London at The OWO

Rounding off the year’s openings in style is the first London hotel from big-hitting brand Raffles, who’ve chosen the suitably grand and storied grade-II* listed former Old War Office on Whitehall for their 120-room London debut. Opposite Horseguards Parade, and moments from the Mall and St James’ Park, this Edwardian Baroque-style building, designed by architect William Young, has been home to the offices of the likes of Sir Winston Churchill, and is where Ian Fleming conceived the James Bond series while working for the Naval Intelligence Division. With a fresh new look, which upholds plenty of 007 glamour and restored features, its 120 rooms – including some in the corner turrets – will sit alongside a rooftop restaurant and bar, a wellness space with 20m swimming pool, a grand ballroom and a whopping 11 restaurants.

Other exciting openings in the capital include The Other House Hotel – which will open two properties in south Kensington and Covent Garden in April – which will “blur the lines between hotels, serviced apartments and private rentals”, and have seriously sexy interiors by Marie Soliman, founder of Bergman Design House.

Hotel AMANO Covent Garden, the first international hotel from Berlin-based hoteliers the AMANO Group, will zhuzh up Drury Lane come springtime with a basement and sky bar, with DJs spinning tunes at the weekends.

The much-delayed Broadwick Soho, described as “Studio 54 meets your eccentric godmother’s townhouse is aiming for an autumn opening, and the Hoxton will touch down in Shepherd’s Bush towards the end of the year.

Rooms rate tbc at The OWO;

Rooms at The Other House from £200 B&B;

Rooms from £139, room-only at Hotel AMANO Covent Garden;

Room rate tbc at The Broadwick Soho:

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