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There’s a trend emerging for 2015: private members' club hotels. Hot on the heels of the Hospital, the Arts Club and Soho House Istanbul comes The Convent, a country retreat in the Cotswolds, near Stroud.
The Convent – in an old, Grade II listed convent, set in 22 acres of land – is already a members’ club popular with the music industry (its live music venue probably has a part to play in that). It soft opened last year, but now it’s ready for a full unveiling.
Hotel Renovations / Hotel Refurbishments / English Country House Hotels / Country House Hotels / Lancashire Hotels / Ribble Valley Hotels / Relais and Chateaux Hotels / → All Tags
A new room in the Garden Lodge
We say “wing”, but it’s actually much better than that – a brand new building in the hotel grounds. The Garden Lodge houses seven rooms and one suite – all of which have terraces, supersized tubs as well as showers, and views across the Ribble Valley in Lancashire. The décor is rather nice – almost new-style Laura Ashley – if a little shiny in this particular room. Maybe that headboard will calm down with age? Free non-alcoholic minibars, Bose sound-systems and Temple Spa amenities are par for the course.
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We were originally doubtful that it’d make its predicted summer opening date, what with having to be constructed from scratch, but turns out we had no reason to doubt – the Farmhouse now has a website, and although it’s only a holder page and reservations aren’t yet open, it definitely feels on track.
They're still being rather coy about the details, though the numbers are now coming in: it’s a 93 acre site, and there will be 40 cabins of one, two and three beds, all of which are on the water (there are two lakes on property). In addition, the farmhouse itself will have seven bedrooms, and there will be a five-bedroom cottage. So far, so Babington House, with the variety of accommodation options.
Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / Country House Hotels / Historic Hotels / Abbey Hotels / Worcestershire Hotels / English Country House Hotels / → All Tags
Normally, hotels in former monasteries are all spartan and pared back. Not so Stanbrook Abbey, which opens fully 1 March in the middle of England's pretty Malvern Hills in Worcestershire.
There are 52 rooms in the main building of the abbey, which dates back to 1625, though the current architecture is Victorian, by Pugin. There were more, when it was nuns living here; but the hotel has torn walls down to make the nuns’ cells into proper bedrooms, and adding distinctly non-monastic things like central heating and bathrooms.
If you’re still not over your Downton Abbey fetish and the official Hotel Downton has slipped through your fingers, here’s another option: the Cavendish Hotel in Derbyshire, England is giving you the chance to sleep with the aristocracy.
The hotel is part of the uber-posh Chatsworth Estate, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire – whose country pile is a couple of fields away from the hotel. The package gets you two nights on the estate, and tickets to a “Life at Chatsworth” talk given by the Duke and Duchess, along with lunch afterwards.
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Mindfulness – or mindful meditation – is all the rage right now and it looks set to stay that way. What better way to cash in on the trend than by opening a ‘mindful hotel’?
An eco-resort owned by fashion designed Marco Murzilli, it’s a simple place – “eremito” means “hermitage” in Italian, and the place has the ascetic feel of a monastery (it was built from scratch, but using 13th-century masonry techniques). There are just 14, pared back rooms based on monk cells – whitewashed walls, arches, no extraneous décor, sheets made of hemp, definitely no minibars. There’s no connectivity – no internet, no phone, no TV, no business center. There’s even no coupling – rooms are strictly for single occupancy. (If you're wanting to come as part of a couple, they suggest you book adjoining cells.)
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Clooney’s done it. Piven’s done it. Even Lumley (Joanna) has done it. And now it’s your turn to make a Downton Abbey cameo – because, for the first time ever, you can now stay at Highclere Castle.
Previously, you could visit Highclere (AKA Downton) at various points over the year. But now they have opened up a cottage in the grounds – the gatehouse, to be precise. Technically, it's called London Lodge, but we shall call Hotel Downton.
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Welsh cakes. Welsh flags. Welsh rarebit. Welsh… lessons?
That’s the new addition to the menu at Chateau Rhianfa, a French-inspired castle in Anglesey (Wales, if that wasn’t already clear). They’re not just any lessons, though – there’s a two-night package planned all around them, and it really is the best of
You’ll arrive in time for a traditional Welsh afternoon tea, including Welsh cakes and Bara Brith as well as your standard sandwiches, scones and cakes. After that, you’ll get on a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) for a whip round the Menai Strait; then it’s back to the hotel to get changed and get dinner – three courses and wine is included.
The 90-minute Welsh lesson starts after dinner – just as well, since you'll have to be suitably lubricated to make your way around those vowels.
On day two, you’ll have a locally sourced breakfast, a tour of Snowdonia, and a second Welsh lesson in the afternoon, before dinner, a cocktail-making class and wine and local cheese tasting in the wine cave.
Hotel Openings / Hotel Construction / Soho House Hotels / Country House Hotels / Oxfordshire Hotels / → All Tags
When news broke over the summer of a Soho Farmhouse hotel in Oxfordshire, we predicted it’d be a couple of years off, given that they had to build the thing from scratch.
We were wrong: Soho House Farmhouse will be opening in June 2015!!! #squeal #swoon #reconfiguresadventcalendarimmediately.
The evidence? This job advert for an HR manager we found browsing the Soho House website this weekend.
It doesn’t divulge much more info – it’ll be “in the heart of” the 125 acre Great Tew Estate, the log cabins (rooms) will be “spread around lakes”, while there will be two larger properties for groups, the Cottage and the main farmhouse. It looks like there will be a screening room, the Electric Barn, as well as the Boathouse pool and, of course, the Cowshed spa. It sounds heavenly. No word on rates, but Soho House properties are generally pretty reasonable for what they are - even for non-members like us (REMEMBER: you don't have to be a member to stay, however many shifty people 'offer' to 'help you' with membership in the comments).
“Downton Abbey” and “sexy” are two things we’d not usually rub together, but turns out the idea does float other people’s boats, because a swingers’ do billed as “a sexy and erotic Downton Abbey” was all set to take over a historic country house hotel in Devon, Bovey Castle.
We say was, because Bovey Castle has just come under new management, and, having heard about the event, has immediately curtailed it prematurely.
According to (of course) the Daily Mail, the swingers had hired the castle for five days and nights of frolics next July, including activities like sexy golf, sexy tennis and sexy tours of Exeter, the neighboring and decidedly unsexy city. You will not be surprised to find that this was being done by a US-based company for American swingers, because surely only Americans could find Exeter or golf or cold country houses erotic.
100 swinger couples had booked all 64 rooms (guess they were planning to share?), but the hotel has recently been acquired by the Eden Hotel Collection, who have said:
We have taken the decision that the event in no way fits with the core values of our businesses and have taken immediate steps to cancel the booking.
Bovey Castle has always been a hugely popular destination for families and as the new custodians of the hotel we are very keen to maintain this and further enhance the experience for our customers.
Google Glass Hotels / Google Glass / Hotel Technology / Spain Hotels / Wine Hotels / Duero Hotels / Country House Hotels / → All Tags
Google Glass in hotels is spreading. It started in San Francisco. Hotel marketers took it to Istanbul. Then it popped up in London. And now it’s been tracked to Spain, where a hotel and winery in an ancient abbey dating back to the 12th century has let it in.
Just one Glass for the concierge is not enough for the Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine in wine region Duero (hence the winery). Oh no – it’s bought eight pairs, and is touting them about to guests. As well as normal Glass activity, they’ve also loaded them with a video about the hotel and an art tour (shown above). There’s also a stargazing app so you can tell exactly what you’re staring at above the lovely vines (the grape kind, not the video kind).
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What was the moment you realized you’d grown old? Walking through the door of your first house? Gazing into the eyes of your first child? Realising you can’t drink on a school night without being overcome by work shame the next day?
Laura Ashley: the middle class bête noir of our 1980s childhood. The Lake District: the middle class, middle aged holiday destination for ruddy-faced people whose idea of excitement is nibbling on a square of Kendal mint cake while perched halfway up a fell. OMG. When did we get so old?
Having said that, FOMO and all that means we’re already making plans to visit, for the funky glass-walled atrium, the views (25 of the 62 rooms are lake view), the sauna, and of course, the Laura Ashley décor.
They’ve come up trumps with this: modern, slate-walled bathrooms mixed up with claw-foot bath tubs, flatscreen TVs and bright, poppy colors matched with velvet sofas (a nod to velvet hairbands?), and – what surely would have been a cardinal sin back in 1980s Laura Ashley land – clashing prints (floral curtains with striped walls, stripy chairs with pinstriped carpets and neoclassical columns, that kind of thing). In short, it might be a bit too jolly hockey sticks for your house, but it’s exactly what you want from a country house retreat. Rooms start at an entirely reasonable £126.