South Sands Boutique Hotel
How rare is it to find a hotel literally on the beach in the UK? Answer: very. But finding one with stylish rooms and apartments in a great location is nigh-on impossible. South Sands, however, with its New-England decor, fresh Quba sail furniture and views across the Salcombe estuary, fits the bill perfectly. There’s nothing between you and the golden-sand beach out front, and once here there’s no need for a car. Take the sea tractor and ferry, or walk for half an hour and you’re in the heart of Salcombe. This picturesque Devon sailing haven, favoured by well-heeled yachties and outdoorsy families, has boutique shops a plenty, some decent eateries and is only a short launch across the water to yet more pristine beaches and fine coastal walks.
St. Mawes, Cornwall
St Mawes invigorates you with its fresh sea air, warm micro-climate and a clarity of light cherished by visiting artists. This is probably the smartest hotel in Cornwall, not because of formality or grandeur (in fact, quite the opposite), but because of how it makes you feel – wonderful! Originally a sailing club in the 1940s, then glamorous hotel in the ’60s, it has evolved into a collection of buildings with a common heart. There’s The Nook on the seafront, the beautiful Rock Cottage up a lane (a great option for groups or families), plus the main buildings stretching up a steep hillside. At the bottom there’s a cosy bar and games room (with their bespoke St Mawes version of Monopoly!), then step up to the dining room and terraces with joyful views across the bay.
Opened to guests in late 2013, the building is classically elegant, with a white columned façade overlooking the well-tended lawns of Cheltenham’s Imperial Gardens. Inside, walls are painted in soft greens and moody greys, providing a backdrop for a quirky collection of modern art and salvaged antiques. Bedrooms come with sumptuous throws and high-tech gadgets, luxurious bathrooms with rainfall showers or restored Victorian tubs; there’s also an inviting lounge with sofas, velvet armchairs and stacks of coffee-table books. By day, sunlight streams in through floor-to-ceiling windows; after dark, lamps and candles cast a soft glow, easing you into an evening of fine dining in the chandeliered restaurant. On the floor beneath is a cosier area, where you’ll find the Crazy Eights bar, a covered courtyard with an open fireplace, a patio, even a billiards room. As for the modern British food, it’s delicious stuff: inventive, locally sourced, organic, and seasonal wherever possible.
The Coach House at Middleton Lodge
North Yorkshire, Northern England
Grouped around a courtyard awash with lavender, the buildings are all soft grey stone, large arched doors and pleasing symmetries. Inside, the style is rustic-chic: exposed brickwork, wooden tables and battered Chesterfields in the dining room; pale hues, woollen throws and open beams in the bedrooms. Thanks to young and enthusiastic owners James and Becky, there are also some cool metropolitan touches that have seen the place likened to a northern Babington House: swish bathrooms, vintage trunks, and a clubby bar with tempting cocktails. As for the location, it’s weekend-break perfect: stroll around pretty Richmond, hike in the national park, or just hole up here and forget the outside world.
38 St Giles
Norfolk, East Anglia
This delightful boutique B&B in the heart of Norwich has recently undergone a painstaking face-lift. New owners, a father and son team, have enhanced the exquisite original features of this elegant Georgian townhouse (the former family home of the Gurneys who set up Barclays Bank) with classy paint colours and restrained opulence. You enter the Grade II listed guesthouse via an Italian-style loggia, all is relaxed and calm. You get fresh flowers everywhere, a tray of delicious home-made cake, coffee and tea on arrival, 400 thread count linen on sink-into beds, and your own front-door fob to come and go as you please. One of our favourite-ever finds.
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