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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).
Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / Laura Ashley Hotels / Lake District Hotels / Country House Hotels / → All Tags
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.
Hotel Openings / Hotel Construction / Soho House Hotels / Country House Hotels / Oxfordshire Hotels / → All Tags
Just when you thought Soho House was all about quietly colonizing the world, with Chicago on track to open next month, comes the welcome news that it’s not neglecting its origins. No, not the forthcoming City of London property, but something much better – another English country house hotel to rival Babington House.
Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / Provence Hotels / Country House Hotels / France Hotels / Small Luxury Hotels of the World / → All Tags
How about a hotel with an average of 3.3 acres for each of its rooms – sounds good? That’s kind of the case at Domaine de Manville, a stunning new country estate which just opened in Provence, one of the most textbook ‘French’ places in France (apart from all the British expats growing their own wine). It’s set in a sweeping, 100-acre estate – and there are just 30 rooms to enjoy the space.
And you know it’s good, because it’s been snapped up by the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group.
The estate – a former farm – rolls out in the valley below a medieval hilltop village, Les Baux, with olive trees and lavender fields around it. Rooms look quietly luxurious, with neutral colors, linen (linen!) sheets and omg-rolltop-tubs-in-the-bathrooms.
There’s also a spa and gym, restaurant with wine cellar, tea salon, a gorgeous outdoor pool and a “scenic 18-hole golf course” in the grounds. Activities will include wine tasting and truffle hunting. Heaven!
Hotel Openings / Vermont Hotels / Hotel Opening Rates / Country House Hotels / Family Friendly / → All Tags
Four score ago (1934) Laurance Rockefeller, of THE Rockefeller clan, and Mary French were wed in Woodstock, Vermont, and became hoteliers by purchasing the Woodstock Inn. Now another family-owned hotel has opened in the white clapboard town of Woodstock – 506 On the River Inn – the first US hotel for the family who owns and manages the Palacina and Zanzibar Collections in Europe and East Africa. This hotel is, however, a sentimental favorite for the family because husband Aaren grew up in Woodstock.
The 30-room On the River Inn comes across as a chic country estate – warm and comfy designed by a family with means. The palette is natural linen, stone, weathered leather and distressed wood with some design quirks that include old Vermonter quotes on throw pillows (“Hard telling, not knowing” – yeah, we don’t know what it means either) and an open country-style kitchen with a carpenter’s worktable and milk crates. Owner and designer Paulina Raguz of Palacina Interiors describes her concept as “a balance between a rustic farmhouse aesthetic and luxurious comfort. The décor is an homage to Vermont.”
Hotel Toiletries / Hotel Amenities / Soho House / Soho House Hotels / Country House Hotels / Somerset Hotels / → All Tags
In a world of shrinking amenities (hello, slippers, we miss you) and toiletry bottles getting ever smaller, it’s a mammoth relief to rock up somewhere and find as many options for molly coddling in your hotel room as you have at home.
And at Babington House, the country outpost of Soho House, the selection is pretty incredible. With full-size bottles of the entire Cowshed range of toiletries, you'll be spending more time in the bathroom than the rest of the room!
It was when news popped into our inbox of Lough Eske Castle winning the title Best Luxury Countryside Hotel In The World at the Luxury Hotel Awards that we had two burning questions. What is Lough Eske Castle? And what are the Luxury Hotel Awards?
According to the website:
The World Luxury Hotel Awards are accepted as the pinnacle of achievement for Luxury Hotels worldwide. This Award was established as a celebration of ultimate achievement in hoteliering. It is about congratulating hotels that have taken the extra step & such differentiated themselves from "good hotels" to "exceptional hotels".
The list of this year’s winners is here, if you want to take a look. But in the meantime, what’s more interesting to us is a peek at Lough Eske Castle – especially as, apparently, it’s won the same award for the past three years.
Having dinner cooked by one Michelin starred chef is normally
in our dreams enough for us but if you’re the type who’s not easily pleased, the dinner going down on Sunday at Lords of the Manor in the Cotswolds might be worth a gander: it’s for one night only and is being cooked by no fewer than two Michelin-starred chefs.
The chefs in question are Matt Weedon from the hotel, and Alan Murchinson from L’Ortolan in Berkshire and the dinner is a one off meal that the hotel is, we hope not optimistically, naming “a culinary tour de force”. No word on the menu yet but since dishes normally include things like “Cornish red mullet and crab steamed in a courgette flower on a warm aubergine gateau with olive croquant and bouillabaisse sauce”, you can bet it’ll be fairly spectacular.
Hotel Openings / Country House Hotels / Country Hotels / Cotswolds Hotels / Mantis Collection Hotels / → All Tags
It’s been a little while since we had a nice country house hotel opening, so we’re excited to hear from a tipster about the Ellenborough Park, in the Cotswolds, just outside Cheltenham, that’s opening (or rather, reopening, refurbished and under new management) on Friday.
According to the website, the hotel will offer 62 bedrooms designed by Nina Campbell in a “traditional yet sophisticated English country house style”. From the photos, they look frilly, but not offensively so – not exactly our normal style, but something we could branch out of our comfort zone for. The bathrooms, however, look a little more modern – and all rooms have Hypnos beds, laptop-sized safes, iPod docking stations and – important for a chilly country manor – underfloor heating in the bathrooms. Although – gasp! Is that a country house-style peekaboo bathroom we see? Surely not.