Selina Julien’s words
Whether it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant in Bath or a fine dining experience in the Cotswolds, UK hotels are upping their gastronomy game. Now intimate hideaways mean elegantly decorated rooms, as well as sampling local produce and ingredients. Here’s our pick of five of the best, from roomy eateries to rustic piles, that dignitaries will love…
The Vineyard, Newbury
A family owned Vineyard is one of the most amazing places one can easily live. Although there is no vineyard on site, owner Sir Peter Michael has a passion for wine (and California wineries) and art. There are 30,000 bottles in the glass cellar that illuminates the lobby and more than 500 beautiful pieces from his paintings decorate the walls, including the fascinating Woman with a Cigar in the bar.
Think smart clean and neutral lines, spacious suites, bathrooms with large stone bathtubs and electric showers.
This Berkshire bolthole is perfect for the connoisseur as head chef Tom Scade, who trained at The Ritz, is at the helm of the restaurant and serves exceptional dishes. Spring highlights include seasoned Italian mozzarella with broad beans and John Dory with caviar. The chocolate creation (which looks irresistibly like a wine mask) filled with apple and pistachio sauce was a fitting finale and absolutely divine – as was the wine, which was given a delightful twist and blind tasting.
Order a full English for breakfast as the local fare is excellent and swap your morning coffee for tea and wine.
The Queensberry, Bath
This impressive hotel is impressively located in three towns and is a hidden gem on the Royal Crescent.
And the real fun? Queensberry is home to Bath’s only Michelin star restaurant, The Olive Tree. The six- or nine-course menu from executive chef and local legend Chris Cleghorn may include Isle of Skye langoustine or ruby beetroot with Kaluga hybrid caviar with wine pairings featuring local and foreign grapes. Reminiscent of a members-only club, it’s cozy and welcoming thanks to the great food prepared by our trained sous chefs and the professional knowledge of restaurant manager Aisling Bury who guides us through the perfect pairings. End the night at the Old Q Bar, a magical treasure trove with delicious cocktails.
The Queensberry is perfect for disappearing on a romantic weekend as the phones are not great, but the friendly staff have access to WiFi.
Beauty and character, this Grade II listed Georgian property stole the hearts of owners Laurence and Helen Beere two decades ago and it’s not hard to see why. All 29 rooms are uniquely decorated – imagine the interior boldly with Divine Savages Wallpaper. The elegant junior suites boast high ceilings, chandeliers and original fireplaces, elegant yet elegant, like sitting in a friends room, and trust us, you won’t want to leave!
Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa, Cotswolds
As the cabin entertains us with stories of Prince Harry in the village, there is nothing wrong with this 18.Th Century Country house as a great escape for those who enjoy the finer things in life.
With only 23 rooms, it’s a bit of a lottery here but surprisingly guests return for the Michelin-starred cuisine, the award-winning Gaia spa and the dreamy suites with beautiful mezzanines.
The large four-poster beds are a real talking point as are the hotel’s best green solutions, such as Molton Brown products in ceramic jars, which prove that five-star luxury can also be sustainable.
The spa has a hydrotherapy pool, thermal suite, salt shower and floating tank, but the highlight is the private hot tub where we enjoyed a chilled glass of Gusbourne in the VIP Suite.
British delights such as roast Cornish ling, delicious white fish from the cod family, and produce from the local farm are what Grey’s Brassiere is known for and for good reason.
With 26 gardens to enjoy, it’s a place where four-legged friends are also welcome and the large spaces like the drawing room with velvet chairs (and delicious cocktails) make every guest feel like a birthday home.
Pig near Bath, Somerset
There may be Pig wastes (food-sensitive country houses) across the UK but this beautiful Grade II listed building is a sight to behold. Surrounded by the Mendip Mountains, it’s the perfect place to take in the countryside or dance the evening away in front of a roaring fire with a glass of Pinot Noir. Faux deer heads, an old gramophone and oil paintings give it a Wuthering Heights feel, with cute little touches like a stack of homemade cakes in the drawing room.
Called a “restaurant with rooms”, the 25-kilometer location features fresh produce, such as trout and hand-raised chicken. The roast pork loin generously doused in a brandy sauce and the wild game special of the day did not disappoint nor did the extensive British wine list.
Slip into one of the stunning four-poster beds in the Big Comfy Luxe rooms, which are exactly what they are with traditional rustic interiors and comfortable bathrooms in the bedrooms.
A bespoke massage in one of the beautiful pottery rooms converted into a private retreat behind the walled garden was a real treat. As the warming ginger oil from the beautiful VOYA brand was pushed generously into each tired muscle, the rain falling on the roof provided a perfect ambience.
The Mandrake, London
With its narrow entrance, dark floors and bold Salvador Dali graffiti, The Mandrake is a place Alice in Wonderland might have passed through once in a while.
Located in the West End, it has been a celebrity magnet since Lebanese owner Rami Fustok opened it six years ago to the tune of $45m.
The real life of this beautiful hotel though is its restaurant YOPO, a very impressive South American-inspired cuisine. Expect an elegantly designed space with a giant ostrich sculpture by Enrique Gomez de Molina to hold court, as well as special dishes with lobster brioche with caviar and pork belly tacos as highlights.
The mixed mix of fashion and couples having a date night makes the place more interesting, and the service is fun and kind.
And you can roll over in bed afterwards if you’re not partying well! The penthouse is beautiful, the suites are large and the rooms are very comfortable. Our stark white one was a stark contrast to the interior, but the Marshall Radio and colorful artwork made the blank canvas pop. Although Jurema’s terrace-facing rooms are a lovely escape in the warmer months, you’ll no doubt say goodbye to an early night. So grab your dancing shoes and get ready for a night of fun!