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52 et cr Se ns io at tin es D in at re

G rit B n ai

Alex Polizzi’s

Little Black Book of Hotels


Are you sick of trawling the internet or combing through guidebooks to find somewhere special for a break away, only to be disappointed when your chosen destination doesn’t live up to its promise? In this must-have guide, award-winning hotelier Alex Polizzi takes the hassle out of hotel selection, revealing her pick of the very best places to stay in Great Britain. Whether you’re searching for a boutique city bolthole or luxurious country house, cosy bed & breakfast or Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms, you’ll find it here. And you can rest assured that all 52 of the outstanding destinations featured – one for each weekend of the year – live up to Alex’s famously exacting standards. She describes each of her chosen destinations in absorbing detail and suggests which room to choose, what to eat and where to go in the local area. With its winning combination of expert advice, insider tips and sumptuous photography, Alex Polizzi’s Little Black Book of Hotels makes compulsive reading for the armchair traveller, as well as essential reference when planning any trip away.

Contents Little Black Book of Hotels

4 Introduction 6 10 14 18 22 26 30 34 38 42 46 50 54 58 62 66 70 74 78 82 86 90 94 98 102 106 110

The Ashton The Balmoral Hotel Bedruthan Steps Hotel The Bell at Skenfrith The Bingham Browns Hotel The Bull Hotel Combe House Cotswold House Cowley Manor The Crab & Lobster Dean Street Townhouse Hotel Endsleigh The Felin Fach Griffin Gallon House The George in Rye The George of Stamford Gidleigh Park Hotel Gilpin Lodge Glangrywney Court The Great House Hotel The Gurnards Head The Hamptons Harbourmaster Hotel Hipping Halll Horse and Groom The Hoste Arms

Lancaster Edinburgh Cornwall Hereford Surrey London Dorset Devon Cotswolds Gloucestershire West Sussex London Devon Wales Yorkshire Kent Lincolnshire Devon Lake District Wales Suffolk Cornwall Devon

114 118 122 126 130 134 138 142 146 150 154 158 162 166 170 174 178 182 186 190 194 198 202 206 210

Hurst House on the Marsh The Inn at Whitewell Kemp Townhouse L’enclume The Lowry Hotel Lime Wood Hotel Missoni Mount Haven Hotel The Old Parsonage The Olde Bell The Peacock at Rowsley Pool House The Queensberry Hotel The Rookery Russell’s San Domenico House The Stapleton Arms Hotel TerraVina The Three Chimneys Hotel Tresanton The Victoria at Holkham Hotel du Vin Wallett’s Court West Stoke House Whatley Manor

Scotland Lancashire Brighton Cumbria

Since 2008 Alex Polizzi has been the presenter of Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector, bringing her considerable industry experience and authority to help transform some of Britain’s worst-run hotels. As the granddaughter of Lord Forte and niece of Sir Rocco Forte, Alex comes from a long line of distinguished hoteliers. She trained at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and worked for Marco Pierre White at the Criterion, before undertaking roles at various Rocco Forte hotels around the world. Alex Polizzi is currently the proprietor of the Hotel Endsleigh in Milton Abbot, near Tavistock in Devon and, together with her mother the hotel designer Olga Polizzi, previously launched the highly praised Hotel Tresanton at St Mawes in Cornwall.

Manchester Hampshire Edinburgh Cornwall Oxford Berkshire Derbyshire Scotland Bath London Cotswolds

£20.00 Hardback 978 184400 396 9 224pp 229 x 164mm 50,000 words Over 150 colour photographs Publication August 2010

London Dorset Hampshire Scotland Cornwall Norfolk Cambridge

Quadrille Publishing Limited Alhambra House 27–31 Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0LS www.quadrille.co.uk

Kent West Sussex Wiltshire

Wales Lancashire Gloucestershire

214 Gazetteer 224 Acknowledgements

Norfolk

Mount Haven Hotel Cornwall

L’enclume Cumbria


Are you sick of trawling the internet or combing through guidebooks to find somewhere special for a break away, only to be disappointed when your chosen destination doesn’t live up to its promise? In this must-have guide, award-winning hotelier Alex Polizzi takes the hassle out of hotel selection, revealing her pick of the very best places to stay in Great Britain. Whether you’re searching for a boutique city bolthole or luxurious country house, cosy bed & breakfast or Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms, you’ll find it here. And you can rest assured that all 52 of the outstanding destinations featured – one for each weekend of the year – live up to Alex’s famously exacting standards. She describes each of her chosen destinations in absorbing detail and suggests which room to choose, what to eat and where to go in the local area. With its winning combination of expert advice, insider tips and sumptuous photography, Alex Polizzi’s Little Black Book of Hotels makes compulsive reading for the armchair traveller, as well as essential reference when planning any trip away.

Contents Little Black Book of Hotels

4 Introduction 6 10 14 18 22 26 30 34 38 42 46 50 54 58 62 66 70 74 78 82 86 90 94 98 102 106 110

The Ashton The Balmoral Hotel Bedruthan Steps Hotel The Bell at Skenfrith The Bingham Browns Hotel The Bull Hotel Combe House Cotswold House Cowley Manor The Crab & Lobster Dean Street Townhouse Hotel Endsleigh The Felin Fach Griffin Gallon House The George in Rye The George of Stamford Gidleigh Park Hotel Gilpin Lodge Glangrywney Court The Great House Hotel The Gurnards Head The Hamptons Harbourmaster Hotel Hipping Halll Horse and Groom The Hoste Arms

Lancaster Edinburgh Cornwall Hereford Surrey London Dorset Devon Cotswolds Gloucestershire West Sussex London Devon Wales Yorkshire Kent Lincolnshire Devon Lake District Wales Suffolk Cornwall Devon

114 118 122 126 130 134 138 142 146 150 154 158 162 166 170 174 178 182 186 190 194 198 202 206 210

Hurst House on the Marsh The Inn at Whitewell Kemp Townhouse L’enclume The Lowry Hotel Lime Wood Hotel Missoni Mount Haven Hotel The Old Parsonage The Olde Bell The Peacock at Rowsley Pool House The Queensberry Hotel The Rookery Russell’s San Domenico House The Stapleton Arms Hotel TerraVina The Three Chimneys Hotel Tresanton The Victoria at Holkham Hotel du Vin Wallett’s Court West Stoke House Whatley Manor

Scotland Lancashire Brighton Cumbria

Since 2008 Alex Polizzi has been the presenter of Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector, bringing her considerable industry experience and authority to help transform some of Britain’s worst-run hotels. As the granddaughter of Lord Forte and niece of Sir Rocco Forte, Alex comes from a long line of distinguished hoteliers. She trained at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and worked for Marco Pierre White at the Criterion, before undertaking roles at various Rocco Forte hotels around the world. Alex Polizzi is currently the proprietor of the Hotel Endsleigh in Milton Abbot, near Tavistock in Devon and, together with her mother the hotel designer Olga Polizzi, previously launched the highly praised Hotel Tresanton at St Mawes in Cornwall.

Manchester Hampshire Edinburgh Cornwall Oxford Berkshire Derbyshire Scotland Bath London Cotswolds

£20.00 Hardback 978 184400 396 9 224pp 229 x 164mm 50,000 words Over 150 colour photographs Publication August 2010

London Dorset Hampshire Scotland Cornwall Norfolk Cambridge

Quadrille Publishing Limited Alhambra House 27–31 Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0LS www.quadrille.co.uk

Kent West Sussex Wiltshire

Wales Lancashire Gloucestershire

214 Gazetteer 224 Acknowledgements

Norfolk

Mount Haven Hotel Cornwall

L’enclume Cumbria


Kemp Townhouse Brighton Relaxed, stylish and informal, Kemp Townhouse is a great place to spend a weekend in Brighton.

Fish and chips, deck chairs, pebbles, candy floss and bench after bench of pink rinses and walking sticks. While all of these are still synonymous with Brighton, England’s favourite seaside resort has in recent years shrugged off its somewhat tacky mantle to become a destination that offers fantastic shopping, dining, nightlife and independent hotels for the more discerning weekender. The newest and best of Brighton’s boutique hotels is Kemp Townhouse. Centrally located just off Marine Parade that runs along the seafront, Kemp Townhouse started life as a guesthouse in 1864. Its new owner-managers Claas Wulff and Russell Braterman have, after a three-month refurbishment, brought a new sophistication to the house, chic styling with old world charm, and in doing so have raised the bar for Brighton’s boutique hotels. There is a satisfying attention to detail in the rooms of Kemp Townhouse which is complimented by Claas and Russell’s attention to those that stay – nothing is too much trouble for them. If you want handmade chocolates left on your bed, or would like it to be scattered with rose petals, they will happily oblige. With this level of service, it comes as no surprise that Kemp Townhouse was awarded five stars by Visit Britain in its first year. There are flat screen TVs in the rooms, a desk by each window, lovely towels and linen, big beds, lots of pillows and stylish, if small, bathrooms. The walls are painted grey throughout and the black furniture stands out dramatically; the decor is far from anodyne. Lamps from Holland, tables and Kashmir covered chairs from France, chandeliers from New York as well as artwork from their own collection all bustle for your attention. There is only one public room, though this space is arranged so that guests can have a generous breakfast at the tables with a complimentary paper, while also encouraging people to congregate here for a last drink before turning in for the night. Drinks selection may be limited, but who cares after a good night out? 91


Kemp Townhouse Brighton Relaxed, stylish and informal, Kemp Townhouse is a great place to spend a weekend in Brighton.

Fish and chips, deck chairs, pebbles, candy floss and bench after bench of pink rinses and walking sticks. While all of these are still synonymous with Brighton, England’s favourite seaside resort has in recent years shrugged off its somewhat tacky mantle to become a destination that offers fantastic shopping, dining, nightlife and independent hotels for the more discerning weekender. The newest and best of Brighton’s boutique hotels is Kemp Townhouse. Centrally located just off Marine Parade that runs along the seafront, Kemp Townhouse started life as a guesthouse in 1864. Its new owner-managers Claas Wulff and Russell Braterman have, after a three-month refurbishment, brought a new sophistication to the house, chic styling with old world charm, and in doing so have raised the bar for Brighton’s boutique hotels. There is a satisfying attention to detail in the rooms of Kemp Townhouse which is complimented by Claas and Russell’s attention to those that stay – nothing is too much trouble for them. If you want handmade chocolates left on your bed, or would like it to be scattered with rose petals, they will happily oblige. With this level of service, it comes as no surprise that Kemp Townhouse was awarded five stars by Visit Britain in its first year. There are flat screen TVs in the rooms, a desk by each window, lovely towels and linen, big beds, lots of pillows and stylish, if small, bathrooms. The walls are painted grey throughout and the black furniture stands out dramatically; the decor is far from anodyne. Lamps from Holland, tables and Kashmir covered chairs from France, chandeliers from New York as well as artwork from their own collection all bustle for your attention. There is only one public room, though this space is arranged so that guests can have a generous breakfast at the tables with a complimentary paper, while also encouraging people to congregate here for a last drink before turning in for the night. Drinks selection may be limited, but who cares after a good night out? 91


Which room?

Each of the 9 bedrooms is subtly, tastefully and comfortably designed. All have compact en-suite wet rooms, with delicious Charlotte Rhys toiletries that Claas and Russell get shipped from South Africa. The best rooms are ‘Fabulous Four Poster’, which is home to Brighton’s largest mattress, and ‘Four Poster Feature’, the feature being a roll top bath in the bedroom. The sea is visible from both these rooms – so long as you crane your neck just a little bit! If you are lucky enough to get some, the rooms on the front of the house all catch the afternoon sunshine, which angles through the white wooden slats of the windows’ shutters. As this is a town house, none of the rooms is huge, but then none feel too cramped either, and all have good storage space to hang your gladrags.

What to eat and drink?

Kemp Townhouse does not have a restaurant, although they serve a delicious breakfast either in the guest lounge or in your bedroom on request. However, with a city crammed full of great places to eat, this is more of a help than a hindrance. A firm favourite for lunch with locals is Bill’s (100 North Road), an informal openplan café/restaurant and deli that focuses on fresh produce sourced locally as well as from more exotic climes. If it’s seafood you want, English’s (29-31 East Street) is Brighton’s oldest restaurant and the place to go, especially the oyster bar. For the complete antithesis, you can’t do better than a take-away fish and chips midway along the pier, though be prepared for marauding seagulls! For a sophisticated dinner, head to The Restaurant at Drakes Hotel (43–44 Marine Parade) via the ground floor cocktail lounge. Brighton is also home to some fantastic vegetarian restaurants, the pick of the bunch being Food For Friends (17–18 Prince Albert Street) and Terre a Terre (71 East Street).

What to do?

Must-sees in Brighton are the pier and the recently restored Royal Pavilion, George IV’s oriental folly and den of iniquity that has inspired many a dirty weekend since the Victorian era. If you need a little assistance for your naughty weekend away, She Said (11 Ship Street Gardens) can provide everything from knickers and corsets that are truly works of art, to top quality toys. If the indulgent mood continues, the handmade chocolates from Montezeuma’s (15 Duke Street) will go nicely with your new purchases later in the evening. And who knows, it may even inspire a purchase or two at one of the jewellers in the historic Lanes. Baroque (9 Union Street) is the pick of the bunch, but also visit Rina Tairo (13½ Prince Albert Street) for delicate modern jewellery with an Elizabethan twist. Close by you will also find Last (3 Pool Valley) which specialises in excellent handmade leather shoes and accessories for both men and women. For those sartorially inclined, Gresham Blake in the fashionable North Lanes (20 Bond Street) is Brighton’s contemporary bespoke tailor of choice for both sexes. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the North Lanes – my favourite of the boutiques is Tribeca (21 Bond Street) which carries the likes of Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno.

Kemp Townhouse 21 Atlingworth Street, Brighton BN2 1PL 01273 681 400 www.kemptownhouse.com

92

Leave your car at home! Brighton is not a city for cars, but is perfect for pedestrians and is only an hour by train from London Victoria. There is no parking at Kemp Townhouse. Most taxi rides in town cost around £5.00, including from the train station to Kemp Townhouse.

Indulge yourself with a cream tea at the Grand Hotel’s Victoria Lounge (97-99 Kings Road) – the perfect place for a break from all that shopping.


Which room?

Each of the 9 bedrooms is subtly, tastefully and comfortably designed. All have compact en-suite wet rooms, with delicious Charlotte Rhys toiletries that Claas and Russell get shipped from South Africa. The best rooms are ‘Fabulous Four Poster’, which is home to Brighton’s largest mattress, and ‘Four Poster Feature’, the feature being a roll top bath in the bedroom. The sea is visible from both these rooms – so long as you crane your neck just a little bit! If you are lucky enough to get some, the rooms on the front of the house all catch the afternoon sunshine, which angles through the white wooden slats of the windows’ shutters. As this is a town house, none of the rooms is huge, but then none feel too cramped either, and all have good storage space to hang your gladrags.

What to eat and drink?

Kemp Townhouse does not have a restaurant, although they serve a delicious breakfast either in the guest lounge or in your bedroom on request. However, with a city crammed full of great places to eat, this is more of a help than a hindrance. A firm favourite for lunch with locals is Bill’s (100 North Road), an informal openplan café/restaurant and deli that focuses on fresh produce sourced locally as well as from more exotic climes. If it’s seafood you want, English’s (29-31 East Street) is Brighton’s oldest restaurant and the place to go, especially the oyster bar. For the complete antithesis, you can’t do better than a take-away fish and chips midway along the pier, though be prepared for marauding seagulls! For a sophisticated dinner, head to The Restaurant at Drakes Hotel (43–44 Marine Parade) via the ground floor cocktail lounge. Brighton is also home to some fantastic vegetarian restaurants, the pick of the bunch being Food For Friends (17–18 Prince Albert Street) and Terre a Terre (71 East Street).

What to do?

Must-sees in Brighton are the pier and the recently restored Royal Pavilion, George IV’s oriental folly and den of iniquity that has inspired many a dirty weekend since the Victorian era. If you need a little assistance for your naughty weekend away, She Said (11 Ship Street Gardens) can provide everything from knickers and corsets that are truly works of art, to top quality toys. If the indulgent mood continues, the handmade chocolates from Montezeuma’s (15 Duke Street) will go nicely with your new purchases later in the evening. And who knows, it may even inspire a purchase or two at one of the jewellers in the historic Lanes. Baroque (9 Union Street) is the pick of the bunch, but also visit Rina Tairo (13½ Prince Albert Street) for delicate modern jewellery with an Elizabethan twist. Close by you will also find Last (3 Pool Valley) which specialises in excellent handmade leather shoes and accessories for both men and women. For those sartorially inclined, Gresham Blake in the fashionable North Lanes (20 Bond Street) is Brighton’s contemporary bespoke tailor of choice for both sexes. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the North Lanes – my favourite of the boutiques is Tribeca (21 Bond Street) which carries the likes of Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno.

Kemp Townhouse 21 Atlingworth Street, Brighton BN2 1PL 01273 681 400 www.kemptownhouse.com

92

Leave your car at home! Brighton is not a city for cars, but is perfect for pedestrians and is only an hour by train from London Victoria. There is no parking at Kemp Townhouse. Most taxi rides in town cost around £5.00, including from the train station to Kemp Townhouse.

Indulge yourself with a cream tea at the Grand Hotel’s Victoria Lounge (97-99 Kings Road) – the perfect place for a break from all that shopping.


Hotel Endsleigh Devon Set amongst ancient woodlands and complete with its own Repton garden, this exemplary, intimate and relaxed country house hotel is the perfect place to while away a weekend by the fire or the river.

Hotel Endsleigh is one of those magical places that you can imagine winning the lottery and buying – complete with uniformed porters, housekeepers and chefs. Clearly a grand family home before being converted into a hotel, the public rooms are high ceilinged but intimate, the bedrooms numerous for a family, but few for a hotel of this standard. Until the 1950s the house was owned by the Bedford family who used it for hunting, shooting, fishing and hosting house parties for their lucky friends. In those days, Bedford lands stretched far across the county; now Endsleigh stands in just 108 acres of land and owns only a mile of the Tamar, where it is still possible to fish for salmon and sea-trout from March to October. Hotel Endsleigh is still privately owned and it shows. There is not a laminated menu in sight, brochures for other local attractions are conspicuously absent from the hall, while the décor is understated and personal. This is the real draw of the place; the fact that you can go stomping across the moor in foul weather, come back, ask the porter to wash your boots while you have cream tea in your stockinged feet. That you can sit in glorious sunshine gazing for hours at a view that hasn’t altered for a century while a waiter runs in and out to fill your drink (unless, of course, you would prefer to pour your own from the Honour Bar) or lie with your feet up on the sofa, reading a novel from the wonderful library while someone else stokes the fire. That, in short, you can behave exactly as you would at home, but with every need catered for and every wrinkle ironed out of your life. Isn’t this how we would all live if we could!

75


Hotel Endsleigh Devon Set amongst ancient woodlands and complete with its own Repton garden, this exemplary, intimate and relaxed country house hotel is the perfect place to while away a weekend by the fire or the river.

Hotel Endsleigh is one of those magical places that you can imagine winning the lottery and buying – complete with uniformed porters, housekeepers and chefs. Clearly a grand family home before being converted into a hotel, the public rooms are high ceilinged but intimate, the bedrooms numerous for a family, but few for a hotel of this standard. Until the 1950s the house was owned by the Bedford family who used it for hunting, shooting, fishing and hosting house parties for their lucky friends. In those days, Bedford lands stretched far across the county; now Endsleigh stands in just 108 acres of land and owns only a mile of the Tamar, where it is still possible to fish for salmon and sea-trout from March to October. Hotel Endsleigh is still privately owned and it shows. There is not a laminated menu in sight, brochures for other local attractions are conspicuously absent from the hall, while the décor is understated and personal. This is the real draw of the place; the fact that you can go stomping across the moor in foul weather, come back, ask the porter to wash your boots while you have cream tea in your stockinged feet. That you can sit in glorious sunshine gazing for hours at a view that hasn’t altered for a century while a waiter runs in and out to fill your drink (unless, of course, you would prefer to pour your own from the Honour Bar) or lie with your feet up on the sofa, reading a novel from the wonderful library while someone else stokes the fire. That, in short, you can behave exactly as you would at home, but with every need catered for and every wrinkle ironed out of your life. Isn’t this how we would all live if we could!

75


52 et cr Se ns io at tin es D in at re

G rit B n ai

Alex Polizzi’s

Little Black Book of Hotels

Little Black Book of Hotels  

In this must-have guide, award-winning hotelier Alex Polizzi takes the hassle out of hotel selection, revealing her pick of the very best pl...

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