The Best of Luxury Boutique Hotels in UK Cities

Diverse, vibrant and unique, UK cities have a lot to offer to bright-eyed travellers who are keen to learn and explore. But when it comes to accommodation, a lot can go wrong. If you don’t have friends in the city you’re visiting, you might find yourself choosing a hotel blindly without really knowing it’s the right one for you.

We know all too well that where you choose to rest your head can really impact on your experience of a place. That’s why we’ve done all the hard work for you and put together our luxury boutique hotel picks in five of our favourite UK cities.

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Image via Landmark London

The Landmark, London

Dating back to 1899, this grand Victorian railway hotel is a 2-minute walk from Marylebone tube station and a 6-minute walk from Madame Tussauds. The rooms have tasteful, classic decor, and feature sitting areas and flat-screen TVs. Suites add Nespresso machines, Italian marble bathrooms and separate living areas, and suite guests get to use the hotel’s spa and health club for free.

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Image via Landmark London

The real treat at this property though is the restaurant’s incredible architecture. It’s set in an eight-storey atrium beneath a glass roof and has an enormous mirrored bar. Even if you don’t have time to dine for a full meal, breakfast, afternoon tea and aperitifs (included in some room rates) are served in this spectacular space. Just sitting here is luxury London at its best, and leaves no doubt as to why this hotel has been awarded Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection status.

222 Marylebone Road, London NW1 6JQ | 020 7631 8000
landmarklondon.co.uk (or ghotw.com/hotel/home/landmark-london.htm)

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Image via Hotel Felix

Hotel Felix, Cambridge

Nestled on grounds that feel more country home than city lodging, Hotel Felix is that rare thing: a premium property with a real personal touch. This 52-bedroom independent hotel is stylish and friendly, and situated within easy reach of Cambridge city centre. The rooms feature laid-back, modern decor and offer flat-screen TVs, tea and coffeemaking equipment, and free WiFi.

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Image via Hotel Felix

Graffiti, the hotel’s award-winning fine dining restaurant, serves up sublime British cuisine in a contemporary dining room that’s brimming with distinctive and colourful artwork. As well as mouthwatering lunch and dinner menus of seasonal cuisine, freshly-made hot breakfasts and afternoon tea are also available in this vibrant space. Guest parking and full breakfast is included in most room rates.

Whitehouse Lane, Huntington Road, Cambridge CB3 0LX | 01223 277977
hotelfelix.co.uk | twitter.com/FelixCambridge

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Image via The Bristol Hotel

The Bristol Hotel, Bristol

This upscale quayside hotel is the ultimate accommodation option in Bristol, situated close to the Arnolfini Arts Centre and Bristol Hippodrome. A member of the premium Doyle Collection of Hotels, The Bristol hotel is a city centre property that offers great service and indulgent little touches without any of the fuss.

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Image via The Bristol Hotel

The contemporary guest rooms feature flat-screen TVs and free WiFi, as well as Nespresso machines and iPod docking stations. Most also have river views. The harbourside grill restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and serves up locally-sourced, seasonal cuisine. Guest parking is free in an adjacent car park.

Prince Street, Bristol BS1 4QF | 0117 923 0333
doylecollection.com/hotels/the-bristol-hotel

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Image via A Room With A View

A Room With A View, Brighton

Set in an elegant Georgian townhouse, A Room With A View offers a taste of luxury in an intimate, laid-back setting. This swanky guesthouse is a 10-minute walk from Brighton Pier and less than four miles from the Castle Hill National Nature Reserve.

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Image via A Room With A View

The stylish, modern guest rooms feature marble bathrooms, Nespresso machines and flat-screen TVs. Some rooms have private balconies, while most also offer sea views. With just 9 rooms available, options range from single to king-size. Freebies include full hot breakfast served in an airy dining room, WiFi access and guest parking.

41 Marine Parade, Brighton BN2 1PE | 01273 682885
aroomwithaviewbrighton.com

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Image via Hotel Gotham

Hotel Gotham, Manchester

Set in a historic building that was previously home to a bank, Hotel Gotham opened earlier this year and has since made a name for itself as one of the city’s finest accommodation options. Decorated in art-deco style, other hotel features include a Modern British restaurant with city views, and a bar/club with terraces on the top floor.

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Image via Hotel Gotham

The sophisticated, vintage-style guest rooms feature high ceilings, flat-screen TVs and Nespresso machines, as well as minibars and free WiFi. Suites include extras such as sitting areas, free-standing tubs and 60-inch flat-screen TVs. Full hot breakfast and 24-hour room service are available at additional cost.

100 King Street, Manchester M60 8HG | 0843 357 5555
hotelgotham.co.uk

How Times Change: The iPhone Effect

The launch of the iPhone 6 was quite the momentous occasion. Crowds of people gathered outside Apple stores worldwide before opening hours, queuing up to be one of the first to have the new handset in their hands.

Some of the young ‘uns buying the latest iPhone will hardly remember a time before the whole world sat on a microchip in your pocket. But for those of us whose memories stretch a little further backwards, it’s startling to think how much things have changed over the past decade.

If, like me, you’ve been scratching your head and thinking about the impact of technology recently, you’ll have already realised some of the things the iPhone has replaced. But you might find yourself surprised by the full extent of the situation.

Courtesy of My Voucher Codes, here’s a fascinating infographic entitled ‘What the iPhone Killed’.

Technology the iPhone killed

“We won’t know whether this technology would have become obsolete if it wasn’t for Apple, nor can we state without Apple we wouldn’t have the technology we have now,” says Mark Pearson from My Voucher Codes. “But one thing’s for sure, they’ve been pioneers in developing and bringing new technologies to the forefront, and some may argue better at marketing it than their competitors.”

He added: “Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, there is no denying that the company has had an effect on this generation, how we use technology and even what we now use. Each year they bring out a new phone, always with something, new and innovative on offer.”

There was a time when I thought nothing could replace by Nokia 3310, and later my Blackberry Curve, but I am well and truly an Apple girl these days. Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola and HTC have all seen a decline in their sales since the introduction of the iPhone, so it’s unlikely I’m alone in this.

Do you have an iPhone? Do you think Apple has had an impact on the world through its technology? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Click here to view the original source for infographic.

Suffolk: Relax and Eat in Bury St Edmunds

A long old while ago now, I had the pleasure of reading a feature in the formidable Oh Comely Magazine called ‘Hometown Tourist’. This truly distinctive and effortlessly artistic publication commissioned freelance writers to tour their town with a camera and a pen, providing the perfect opportunity to appreciate the everyday with new eyes. The results were excellent, and it left me – as most of Oh Comely’s features do – feeling very much inspired.

It was this mindset of exploring a place overlooked that led me to spend a couple of days in Bury St. Edmunds, a Suffolk town close to where I grew up. I’d passed through the place many a-time but never stuck around to see what was on offer. When I finally made the time to do so, I was in for a real treat.

My journey began with a visit to Clarice House, a spa and beauty complex in the gorgeous confines of a grand Neo-Jacobean mansion set in the woodlands one mile outside of Bury St Edmunds. I wasted no time getting started with my day of ultimate relaxation, starting with an hour-long full body massage, enhanced hugely by the use of opulent Germaine de Capuccini products.

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Credit: Lauren Razavi
Next I made use of the swimming pool, sauna and steam room: the perfect way to end my morning. The spa may be housed in a historic building, but the facilities are modern and comfortable. Lunch at the facility’s award-winning restaurant, which includes a diverse menu for appetites of any size, was next on the agenda. I indulged in a delicious two-course feast of breads and oils, followed by roasted duck, duck’s egg and orange confit.

I ended the day with a manicure and pedicure in the beauty centre. Chatting away to the beauticians, they all seemed awestruck by the opportunity to work in such a glorious and historic setting each day. I can’t say I blame them.

From here, I drove out six miles into the scenic surroundings of Bury St Edmunds to visit the tiny village of West Stow. West Stow Hall is another blissful delight in the area, and I knew as soon as I pulled up that it was an excellent accommodation choice. The grounds are beautiful in every way imaginable, and the family run 4* B&B is an example of the English countryside at its very best.

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Credit: Lauren Razavi
West Stow Hall is part of a fascinating scheme called Historic Britain which aims to make exploration of our great nation easier for those looking for an authentic experience but who do not necessarily know the area. Useful for foreign tourists and ‘hometown tourists’ alike, I’ve found it to be an exceptionally useful tool for finding accommodation options that are off the beaten track and a little bit different. Impressively, the growing site has over 500 different hotels and B&Bs available, each more than 100 years old.

When I arrive at West Stow Hall, I am greeted by the friendly Eileen, joined by her two excitable dogs. We gossip over a slice of homemade cake and a cup of tea in the garden. She tells me that her children have grown up and moved away, so she loves welcoming new friends to the grounds of West Stow Hall.

Her confession that she loves running the B&B and having the opportunity to meet new and interesting people is no surprise – it’s written all over her face. The project is not money-motivated; the money bad from the accommodation business is reinvested in the property, paying for the next batch of restorations on this beautiful old manor.

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Credit: Lauren Razavi
When Eileen retires inside to greet other guests, I jump on the opportunity to have a look around the gorgeous grounds. The Hall boasts six acres of woods, streams and gardens on site, and is the perfect place to relax after exploring the picturesque towns of Suffolk and Norfolk, all within easy reach of this location.

Later, I am welcomed to an exquisite dinner with Eileen’s family and their friend – a homemade French feast. Conversation and wine flows, and I’m absolutely convinced I’ve found the back door to heaven from the confines of this sleepy little Suffolk village.

After a delectable breakfast and more wonderful hospitality from West Stow Hall owner Eileen, I ventured into the centre of Bury St Edmunds. The attractive town is a nice enough place to stroll around, but the most memorable part of my day was lunch at The Angel Hotel’s ‘Eaterie’ Restaurant. Their three-course midday menu, priced at a very reasonable £17.95, is small but perfectly formed.

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Credit: Lauren Razavi
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Credit: Lauren Razavi

Most of the dishes are British, but sometimes with an unexpected yet pleasant twist like the inclusion of salted carrot caramel. I go for a feta, watermelon and broad bean salad to start, a main course of grilled hake with samphire, peas and mint, and complete the meal with chocolate fondant. The ingredients on the menu are sourced from local producers, the bread is baked in house, and the fish and meat on offer depend on that day’s catch. You can taste the precision in every mouthful.

The restaurant boasts just the right mix of sumptuousness, sophistication and modern quirk, all perhaps most apparent in its eye-catching decor. The photographs of old movie stars that colour the walls are both a modern touch and a throwback to times past at the same time. It feels like sitting in an art gallery while you eat: a welcome idea indeed.

Full of excellent food, a countryside atmosphere and just the right level of relaxation, I return home glad to have taken my own ‘Hometown Tourist’-inspired trip. I’ll certainly be visiting again soon.

Hotel ibis Delhi Airport Launches ‘Pay What You Want’ Campaign

pwyw imageHotel ibis Delhi Airport recently launched a new campaign, ‘Pay What You Want’, that allows customers to book a room of their choice and pay any amount they want for their first night, exclusive of taxes. The promotion only lasts until September 21st 2014, so if you’re planning a trip to New Delhi and need airport accommodation, now is the time to snag this offer!

To participate in the ‘Pay What You Want’ promotion, you need to register through hotel’s Facebook page or by email on their website. After you’ve registered, you’ll receive an email notification telling you to pick your date (between September 1st and 21st) and a link to book your desired room.

Hotel ibis is an international economy brand of Accor, which is one of the world’s leading hotel operators and active in 92 countries with more than 3,600 hotels in its collection. The ibis collection has over 1,000 hotels and more than 124,000 rooms across 59 different countries.

Kitchen Favourites: Chef’n Cookie Stamp

I love making cookies but I have to admit it: I’m a bit of a lazy baker when it comes to making anything fancy!

So when I tried the Chef’n cookie stamp, I was delighted with the results. It’s an idiot-proof cookie cutter with a difference, and excellent design.

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An easy to follow recipe comes with it in the box, and following the recipe gives great results. I’ve also used my old tried and trusted cookie recipe and it worked wonderfully well.

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It’s so easy to use and keep clean and the all in one storage idea is fab (no lost parts – always a problem in my kitchen).
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The patterns it makes are so clear and with no distortion. The dough doesn’t get all stuck up on any of the parts, as with previous stamps/cutters I’ve tried.  In fact you can just go on stamping and stamping!

 

It’s so easy to change the heads and push the “stamping button”. I couldn’t pull my 8-year-old niece away from the kitchen: it’s a godsend for entertaining the kiddies too.

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I would definitely recommend this as a cool addition to any baker’s cupboard. Buy yours here.

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Foodie Round Up for January

In the post-Christmas haze of January life, it’s easy to succumb to those New Year blues, especially when it comes to food and drink. After such indulgence over Christmas, you’re stuck between disappointment and guilt, and actually, it’s enough to make your head spin if you think about it too much…

Here are three of my new favourite products to buck up the first month of 2014. They offer just the right combined levels of health and yum to keep you smiling and moving.

Image borrowed from the fantastic london-attached.com

Alma de Cuba Coffee

I’m salivating just thinking about Alma de Cuba coffee. Strong, rich and fragrant are each an understatement in terms of how awesome their blends of fresh bean really are. If you’re a casual coffee drinker, Alma de Cuba is enough to turn you into an aficionado. If coffee already makes up an important part of your day, prepare to enjoy this coffee like you’ve never enjoyed a drink before. You need this coffee in your life. Order here.

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Crostini by Crosta & Mollica

Crosta & Mollica is a brand taking the world by storm, and popping up in more and more shops across the nation. For good reason. Their exquisite flavours of Italy make the perfect snack, starter, treat or meal staple. Their Crostini are divine little crispy bread treats. Grab yourself some at Waitrose now.

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Liberation Nuts

Fairtrade, ethical and delicious, the latest range from Liberation Nuts is just as delectable and appealing as the work the company does. Their seasonal bags of mixed nuts and mixed nuts with dried fruit at the perfect tasty yet healthy snack to help you in your journey away from the beers, mince pies and chocolate feasts of Christmas. Om nom nom. Find out more about Liberation Foods here.