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The Best of… UK boutique hotels

4th Jun 2010

There’s nothing we love more at Design Restaurants than a decadent night or two away in a luxurious bolthole, somewhere to restore our souls and indulge in good food, fine wines and come back with a story or two to tell. Here’s our pick of the best UK boutique bolthole hotels, in no particular order:

Hurst House on the Marsh

1. Hurst House on the Marsh

One of Wales’ top boutique hotels with a relaxed rockstar chic pedigree. A mecca for celebs and those in the know – due to its marooned location in the far South Western tip of Wales, it’s not somewhere you just stumble across. The whitewashed 16th century dairy farm has been lovingly restored with eccentric quirkiness, with 17 bedrooms, courtyard,  spa and dedicated to organic fine food, rest and relaxation. Enter the restaurant through two huge Moroccan doors, glass fronted ceiling to floor, with simple light bulbs lighting the slate room. The consultant chef is no other than 2 Michelin-starred Chef Martin Blunos, who has created a modern Mediterranean / British / Welsh menu. DR members receive complimentary dining for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

The Bingham

2. The Bingham Hotel, Richmond upon Thames

Tucked away beside the river, the Bingham in Richmond upon Thames is one of London’s most enchanting boutique hotels.

Originally built as two Georgian townhouses, decor is elegant luxury with a vintage twist. 15 individually designed bedrooms, with a Michelin-starred restaurant, striking cocktail bar and beautiful river vistas from the private terrace and landscaped garden. Executive chef Shay Cooper offers the best of British food with the finest locally sourced ingredients within the opulent 40 cover restaurant, with river vistas and excellent alfresco dining. DR members receive complimentary dining Monday – Thursday lunch and dinner.


3. Cotswolds88 Hotel, Cotswolds

Wow. There’s not much more to be said. Beneath the historic country house exterior, set in the hauntingly beautiful village of Painswick, modern and vintage collide in an explosion of old and new, theatrical decor, funky modern art and striking colours. In the words of the owner musician – turned – interior designer Marchella De Angelis, “i’m a great lover of art deco, vintage, psychedelia, some contemporary and a little bit of baroque, so in this building i have mixed those five flavours”. The hotel’s ethos is based on the latest lounge trend in which luxury and chill out blend together. 17 bedrooms and an excellent restaurant feature within this magnificent Cotswold Stone boutique hotel, spilling onto a terrace with stunning views over the Cotswold Hills. DR members receive complimentary dining Monday – Thursday lunch and dinner and Friday lunchtimes. A recommended must-see!

Holm House restaurant

4. Holm House, South Wales

Holm House is a quirky, eccentric, bohemian boutique hideaway only a stone’s throw away from Cardiff’s bustling city centre, and the stunning beauty of the Glamorgan Heritage Coastline. The 1920s house has stunning views over the Bristol Channel, and it’s 12 bedrooms been refurbished to the highest standards of luxury and cutting edge design from today’s most elegant designers.

The acclaimed Neales Restaurant is sumptuously decorated, and offers fine dining Welsh specialities. The view is breathtaking, overlooking the Bristol Channel. DR members receive complimentary dining seven days a week lunch and dinner, excluding Saturday dinner.

Robert Thompson at The Hambrough

5. Robert Thompson at the Hambrough, Ventnor on the Isle of Wight

The quaint town of Ventnor makes an ideal setting for The Hambrough, stunning views out to sea, an award winning beach and fantastic walks. And the Hambrough itself is very special – a modern and cleanly minimalist hotel with seven spacious rooms offering splendid views. But people come here for the food as well, since Robert Thompson arrived from Cliveden in August 2008, he has already won a Michelin star for his modern locally sourced cuisine, and more accolades are expected. For a seaside retreat with added wow and luxury, you can’t beat this quiet corner of the island.

6. Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk

Tuddenham Mill is a one of the new kids on the block, but what an impression it makes. Traditional ingredients with a contemporary flavour. History and the sympathetic refurbishment of a traditional watermill in the heart of rural Suffolk / Cambridgeshire, but with the small details of luxury that makes an exceptional boutique hotel stand out. It looks like nothing else, with a genuine passion for great food and wines, bedroom comforts in the 15 rooms such as over-sized beds and Jo Malone toiletries, and friendly and discreet service.

7. The Lugger Hotel, Cornwall

Nestled in the picturesque cove and tiny harbour of Portloe, the Lugger poses as a jewel set within the beautiful Roseland Peninsula. Surrounded by cliffs and headlands which form part of the Cornish Coastal Footpath, the Lugger boasts an unrivalled beauty and enduring timelessness.

Taking full advantage of this beautiful location, the Lugger Restaurant overlooks the sea and harbour and serves classical cuisine with an emphasis on locally-sourced produce – particularly shellfish, lobster and crab. Throughout the year, heavenly lunches and evening aperitifs are served to guests on the sun-drenched terraces. Designed for the most discerning of travellers, the hotel’s twenty-two bedrooms are adorned with crisp white linens and bleached Portuguese woods for a contemporary yet intimate feel, and all feature luxurious en-suite bathrooms with deep baths and deluge showers. All this, plus it’s very own spa.

8. Scarlet Hotel Cornwall

How about something a little different – a luxury eco hotel. This beautifully modern 37 bedroom hotel has been built to the highest eco standards, together with a renowned restaurant offering locally sourced cuisine and a fabulous Ayurvedic inspired spa. With a unique location, the boundaries of indoors and out are deliberately blurred, with a balance of light, airy spaces with cosy, private areas. Arranged over 5 levels, bedrooms are all built to make the most of the dramatic view, and each room boasts its own individual outside space, ranging from private courtyard garden terraces to balconies. Definitely worth a visit, for somewhere really inspiring and different.

9. Hipping Hall, Lancashire

Hipping Hall is a stunning place, a beautiful 17th century stone manor draped in wisteria and steeped in history. All nine bedrooms are designed in calming shades of white and cream (and everything is white!), with fabulously comfy beds, heavy swathes of silk taffeta curtains, and big modern bathrooms. Elsewhere, the lounges are similarly decadently decorated in silks and chenilles, with roaring fires and attentive staff. Within the 15th century banqueting hall, fine dining feasts complement the tapestries and minstrels gallery. It’s just surprising that head chef Michael Wilson hasn’t won a Michelin star, yet.

10.  The Drunken Duck, Cumbria

This renowned gastro pub, which draws gourmet lovers and hardened walkers from far and wide, is nestled enticingly in the heart of the Lake District. With its own Barngates Brewery serving award-winning ales, the bar’s open fires, wide oak flooring, wooden beams and leather armchairs welcomes regulars and visitors, plus the food gets people returning again and again, with honest locally sourced food, presented with an interesting twist. Even Giles Coren is a fan. The pub itself has been around for over 400 years, and there are now 16 bedrooms, all individually furnished, all very comfortable and most with stunning Lake District views. What else could you ask for?

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