If you have a case of the Bank Holiday Blues then there is only one thing for it – plan you next mini break, your next long weekend and your next escape from the routine of everyday. Which is why we’re bringing you this guide.
Boutique hotels are basically the most homely yet luxurious hotels you can imagine – we’re talking impeccable design, roll top baths in the bedrooms and of course Egyptian cotton bedsheets. For the purposes of this guide we are also referring to ’boutique’ as fewer than 30 bedrooms, each individually designed with personal touches throughout the hotel and an intimate and friendly welcome – no ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’, we want staff to know our name (and we want to know theirs). Here are 8 of the best boutique hotels; 7 in England and one slightly further afield…
Feasts and The Rest
‘Feasts and The Rest’ that’s what The Painswick is all about. Set in the rolling Gloucestershire countryside – the home of Laurie Lee, they have sixteen rooms ranging from smaller rooms tucked away in the eaves to the George’s suite which has its own sitting room, log burner and roll-top bath. Rooms are light, white walls are joined by splashes of teal, mustard, olive and soft greys. Spend the day walking in the Cotswolds and then come back to sink into the comfiest of beds and snuggle up with one the sumptuous blankets. Food wise you’ll find the likes of crispy pig’s ear and apple salad; wood-fired Cornish lobster and rhubarb crumble. That’s it, we’re leaving London.
Coastal Get Away
For when you just need to get away from it all and fill your lungs with fresh air, then we say head to The Pig on the Beach in Dorset. Set in a country house, it offers uninterrupted views of four miles of sandy coastline and the beautiful nature reserve. The house has a greenhouse restaurant, treatment rooms and 23 bedrooms – think exposed beams, free-standing baths, monsoon showers and a slight shabby chic edge. Or you can choose to stay in a dovecote or one of two huts. Take a good book and forget about work for a couple of days.
Perfect Winter Break
The Lord Crewe Arms in the North Pennines was originally a 12th century Abbot’s priory – now it’s a hotel which says it’s humble, honest and never over-rated, to us it has ‘perfect winter mini break’ written all over it. The 21 rooms are homely and snug but with little touches of luxury – think Roberts Radios, cookies and Noble Isle luxury bath products- most of them can accommodate dogs too so you can bring your walking pal. You have to check out the Crypt bar too which is in a medieval vaulted room and eat in the restaurant where dishes are cooked on the fireplace.
It might look like something out of a period film from the outside (it’s set in 55 acres of gardens with lakes, natural springs and Victorian cascades) but inside Cowley Manor near Cheltenham, tells a very different story. The 30 bedrooms range from Good to Best and are contemporary with striking furniture, bold colours and simple lines. If it’s a hotel with a spa you’re after, then look no further, it boasts two swimming pools, four treatment rooms and a gym. Relax, revive and restore.
For a stylish seaside retreat, The Idle Rocks takes a lot of beating. A complete makeover a couple of years ago has made it somewhere that induces proper interior envy, with bold fabrics and comfy areas to sit reading the paper. 19 individually designed bedrooms (most with sea views) include crisp Egyptian cotton bed sheets, free standing baths, underfloor heating and Smart TVs. When the sun shines, nab a spot on the harbour side terrace for a gin and tonic and crab sandwich – non-guests are welcome too – and when it isn’t, order their award-winning Sunday lunch and sit in the restaurant.
A sense of history
The daring interiors of Albion House make it a cosy home away from home. Historical touches from the buildings past includes the original Mayoral desk with inkwells which now sits in the bar and Little Victoria’s Room; the bedrooms where young Princess Victoria recuperated after falling ill in 1835. 12 of the 14 rooms have sea views and downstairs, the Regency dining rooms and plentiful wine cellar make for relaxing evenings.
Posh pub with luxurious rooms
Previously described as the ‘poshest pub in Britain’, The Wild Rabbit is the result of a £1 million renovation from the people behind Daylesford Organic. The result? Flagstone flooring, linen sheets, Bamford toiletries, Nespresso machines and handmade four poster beds, with kids welcome in the Family Room and dogs welcome on request. In the dining room, organic ingredients grown in their garden are used when possible, with everything else seasonal and local.
For guaranteed sun
In the same amount of time it takes to drive to Cornwall you could be in the Algarve. Vila Joya has all the feel of a intimate family-run boutique hotel with the high end service you’d expect of a 5-star hotel. Each bedroom is different but when we stayed recently we were in suite number 7 and loved the huge bed, walk in wardrobe and double power showers with Molton Brown toiletries. The 2 Michelin starred restaurant is slightly better than your average dinner offering and steps down to the beach, past one of the two swimming pools, is pretty unbeatable.