Places to slumber
Here are some gorgeous and cosy places to stay – all beds tested by willing travel-weary bodies. Generally we try and stay at small boutique places which come from personal recommendation, or from Mr & Mrs Smith or other boutique hotel web-guides. Most of the hotels below are of the more unusual, individual, eclectic variety but there are a few biggies that might have crept in.
Hazlitt’s, London Gorgeous early eighteenth century historical houses turned hotel in Soho. We stayed in the Baron Willoughby suite, with carved oak bed, original fireplace, heavy silk curtains and a ‘late Victorian bathing machine’.
The Rookery, London Also owned by Hazlitt’s, this is another beautiful period hotel in Clerkenwell, with wood pannelling, stone flag flooring, antique furniture. It’s tiny and cosy and sexy. We stayed here on my birthday, after J had cooked me hamburgers with pink champagne at his flat – we took a rickshaw in rain to the Rook’s Nest – a two-storey penthouse with a 40ft spire. Wow. You could see St Paul’s reflected in the windows of the skyrises surrounding us.
Blakes, London We stayed here after a phenomenal meal in their restaurant downstairs – all red and black and Chinese decor. The room was equally sumptious, cosy and secret and hidden.
The Residence, Bath This is a real gem, in a large Georgian house next to Victoria Park, with only 9 rooms. There’s a library, games room, steam and sauna and an Italianate garden with trampoline. The laid-back bar is fitted with brushed aluminium Kitchen Rose cabinets. We stayed in the spacious Queen’s room, with White Company linen and full-sized fridge.
Babington House, Somerset Soho House’s country outpost. Cowshed, two pools, beautiful Walled Garden and plush comfort in the 32 rooms. Set in 18 acres this is a real retreat – but you can also get raucous in the games room and bar and no-one will bat an eyelid. Rather too many posh Notting Hillites but you can’t go wrong here – it’s all soft comfort and open fires. It’s like eating shepherd’s pie and drinking a glass of warming, mugger red wine. Which you can do here, over the Sunday papers. We’ve stayed in a couple of rooms in the Coach House and the huge Playroom, with sweeping views of the lake.
Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford Raymond Blanc’s award-winning 2-star restuarant is the main deal here, with a stay in one of their 32 rooms a just dessert if you can’t manage to roll home. After 15 courses or so, we couldn’t quite manage that. We stayed in the Citronelle junior suite, which was bright and yellow and sunshiney. As a whole this place is divine, with secret gardens and lichen-covered sculptures of frolicking maidens in the lakes, a huge herb and vegetable garden and beautiful sculptures hidden in corners. On a summer’s day, a long lunch here would be gorgeous. I think we had dinner though, which was sublime – come with hunger and thirst!
The Witchery, Edinburgh Theatrical, camp, gothic, operatic, dark and fantastical are some of the adjectives used to describe the Witchery experience – all of which apply, but it’s far more than gimicry. There is something special about this place – our room had a carved oak antique four-poster bed, tapestries and armour hanging in the entrance hall, a silk and broacde Ottoman with remote-controlled TV and DVD player hidden behind, luxurious silks and velvets, and the bathroom was the grandest I have ever seen. I think it was called the Armoury suite, but there are 7 rooms altogether, each different and each the most romantic, sumptious and decadent you could hope to find. We read stories to each other in the huge bateau bath, with heated marble flooring and wooden panels on the walls.
Prestonfield, Edinburgh Also owned by the Witchery’s James Thompson, Prestonfield is equally decadent, opulent and romantic. Set in grounds where peacocks roam,
(?) Antalya, Turkey
South East Asia