For this week’s topic, the very best UK hotels for 2019, I briefed the Gurus to recommend hotels you’d be extremely pleased to have chosen. The list that came back to me offered plenty of choice. And I can tell you that I really took my time looking over it trying to decide the final cut – it took many teas and coffees and several glasses of wine before I could offer it up to you!
By the Beach
I say: I have stayed at The Pig in the New Forest several times, but I have not stayed at The Pig on the Beach yet, so this hotel made the cut easily for me.
The Hotel Gurus say: This is a stylish country home-from-home hotel, as long as your home is stylish enough to feature in home decor magazines – which we’re sure it is. There are 23 rooms with four-poster beds, stand-alone bathtubs and wooden floors, plus a gourmet restaurant. The views are incredible, they’ll let you accompany them on foraging expeditions, and there are rooms for families too.
Practical Details: The Pig on the Beach is right on the beach at Studland Bay in the Studland Nature Reserve in South Dorset. Rooms start from around £135 per night.
I say: To me Blue Hayes looks like just the kind of place to stay in when visiting St. Ives! Something a bit glamorous with wonderful views and a whiff of Agatha Christie.
The Hotel Gurus say: It’s sheer Capri at Blue Hayes, a ‘private’ six-room hotel perched discreetly above St Ives Bay and the bustling harbour, with white balustraded steps and terraces and a stunning view. The refurbished 1920s building, elegantly decorated in light colours, makes a wonderfully tranquil place in which to spend time and, best of all, owner Malcolm Herring and his friendly team are charming hosts. Great breakfasts. Light dinners available, or take a cocktail and walk down the path to the much vaunted Porthminster Beach Cafe.
Practical Details: Rooms start from around £160 per night, B&B (low season)
Romance in Mind
I say: The Artists Residence Oxfordshire is most certainly on my radar after one of my best friends was taken there for her birthday and I saw the photos and heard her rave reviews – they have Real Linen Sheets! She’s not the only one raving, though, it was recently voted one of the most romantic places to stay in the UK.
The Hotel Gurus say: This country pub with five individually, and beautifully, decorated rooms, and one suite, in the barn, is eclectic and imaginative, with a charming mix of William Morris wallpapers, (his country residence Kelmscott Manor is a nearby attraction), Arts & Crafts woodwork and Tracy Emin-style (actually by Andy Doig) neon art pieces. The atmosphere is fun and entertaining. The young and visionary owners are extremely hands on, here and in their other 3 Artist Residence properties in London, Brighton and Cornwall, so the service is bang on, and small details are not overlooked. The pub is packed and popular, and the restaurant menu is inventive and delicious.
Practical Details: You’re only 15 minutes outside Oxford and rooms start from around £140 per night.
I say: Now, this is certainly down to personal taste, but I really do love a landscaped garden running downwards a river, a luxurious afternoon tea and a wood panelled dining room, and Danesfield House Hotel and Spa has all three.
The Hotel Gurus say: A majestic Italian renaissance style country house in the most stunning location – set amid 65 acres of landscaped and formal gardens overlooking the River Thames, between Marlow and Henley. No two rooms and suites are the same. Interiors veer from traditional country-house chic to Phillipe Starck designed rooms to contemporary duplex suites. But all offer the trappings you’d expect from a luxury establishment. The restaurant and spa are also exceptional.
Practical Details: Between to Henley and Maidenhead, on the river, rooms here start from around £280 per night B&B.
A Rural Retreat
I say: Lime Wood is in my beloved New Forest, so it probably attracted an unnatural amount of my attention for that. But the beautiful looking Georgian house, spa menu and the way they have decorated with sympathy to what must have gone before, really sets it up for being the kind of elegant, relaxing environment we’re looking for from a rural retreat.
The Hotel Gurus say: This superbly redesigned Georgian house is now a beautiful and luxurious hotel, with large rooms with fireplaces, four-poster beds and free-standing baths, or private cottages or forest hideaway suites in the grounds. You’re surrounded by the Great Outdoors, but indoors you’re afforded every comfort.
Practical Details: Lime Wood is in the middle of the New Forest, close to Lyndhurst in Hampshire. There are 32 rooms, which start from £395 per night.
I say: The Traddock is also a charming Georgian country house hotel, but it’s quite a different proposition. Surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this 12 room hotel looks far more intimate and personal – cosy. I could see myself striding out from here on adventures, imagining I was staying with long lost cousins and dressing for dinner in the award-winning restaurant, even though one doesn’t have to.
The Hotel Gurus say: The wonderful unspoilt scenery of the Yorkshire Dales National Park surrounds this welcoming, family run hotel. Inside it’s comfortably furnished with a mix of antiques and quirky homely touches; bedrooms are individually decorated, some in quite lavish style, and all have lovely views. In the award winning restaurant there is a strong emphasis on carefully sourced organic food and local, seasonal ingredients.
Practical Details: The Traddock is near Clapham, just off the M6. Rooms start from around £125 per night B&B.
City Break Hotels
I say: I have been aware of Batty Langley’s for a while. And my husband has stayed here. So I think it’s definitely my turn to experience the fun of this quirkily converted townhouse in London’s Spitalfields. There’s a library and a Tapestry Room. Sounds perfect for me!
The Hotel Gurus say: Opulent, sumptuous and quirky converted 18th century townhouse in the trendy Spitalfields district. Set in a charming narrow cobbled street, the 18th century vibe is all too evident, with period details including old fashioned street lamps just adding to the atmosphere. Once inside you’re enveloped in quirky interiors that make for a very special stay. Rooms are crammed with antiques and period features, from wood panelling, fireplaces, and heavy silk drapes to canopied four poster beds and period artworks on the walls. The pièce de résistance is the 2-level Earl of Bolingbroke penthouse suite with luggage lift, hidden panel with copper baptism sink, grand Tuscan marble bathtub, enormous canopied bed built for a bishop and a terrace.
Practical Details: Rooms start from £170 per night.
I say: This is an oldie, certainly, but I still haven’t stayed here and I still really want to, so I am selfishly insisting it goes on the list, in the hope that 2019 will be the year I stay at Edinburgh’s The Witchery by the Castle. I can’t think of any hotel I have been wanting to stay at for longer.
The Hotel Gurus say: Mysterious, captivating, exotic: James Thomson’s Gothic conversion of the 16th-century General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is named after the witches that were burned nearby. It is flamboyantly decorated with gilded ceilings, panelling and swathes of jewel-coloured velvet. Huge sumptuous suites in vibrant colours are theatrical and supremely romantic, with four-posters and oil paintings. Extras include complimentary champagne.
Practical Details: You’re on the Royal Mile close to the gates of Edinburgh Castle, and the nine rooms start from around £365 per night including champagne breakfast.
I say: If I’m visiting a city I usually want to stay right in the heart of the city so I can make the most of each moment, but Prestonfield seems to be offering me the opportunity to stay in a gorgeous country house hotel surrounded by beautiful grounds, but only five minutes from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. The photos look incredible, so I feel like this I really have to see.
The Hotel Gurus say: This is the best of country house hotel opulence, service and peace, but just minutes from the city. Prestonfield has just 23 bedrooms, yet guests are treated to an Aladdin’s cave of opulence, drama and romance, from complimentary champagne and chocolate on arrival to the run of three fabulously decorated drawing rooms, a whisky bar and a fine dining restaurant.
Practical Details: Rooms start from around £250 per night.
I say: I love staying in castles! So when I saw Augill Castle on the list, with its location between the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North Pennines, it was impossible for me not to want to book in immediately. It looks wonderfully historic and a bit eccentric with it, which is the best kind of ‘holiday castle’, in my book!
The Hotel Gurus say: Stunningly set in the Eden Valley, this eccentric mid-Victorian-folly-castle is equidistant between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales and makes a refreshingly different base. Owners Simon and Wendy Bennett are warm hosts in an eclectic home stuffed with antiques and curios, four posters and roll top baths. Dinner (on request) is communal, around a huge oak table and breakfast is a leisurely affair. Dogs and children are welcomed. Augill Little Cooks, cookery courses for kids, have proved a great hit!
Practical Details: Rooms start from around £160 per night. The location is between the M1 and the M6, outside Brough.