Top 10 boutique hotels
Accommodation brimming with personality and charm
Listen carefully and you’ll be able to hear the roar of the sea from this cliff-top hotel. The British poet Lord Byron got married in 1815 but you’ll find things have changed a bit since then. Just 20 minutes from Newcastle, the hotel’s destination spa has a thalassotherapy pool and you can sip a cocktail while enjoying the sauna or hot tubs. The hotel’s restaurant, the seriously foodie White Room is housed in the original 18th century house along with some of the bedrooms and suites; room 6 has especially wonderful views of the sea. If you want a more contemporary room, head to the new wing. Gadgetted up to the hilt, they also have direct access to the spa.
You’ll find one very special bit of equipment if you book a room that overlooks the waterfront – a fishing rod, meaning that you can lean out of your window and try to catch your supper from the River Aire. In the centre of the handsome city of Leeds in Yorkshire, this hotel was once a 18th century corn mill but there’s little to remind you of the daily grind of life these days. The 41 rooms still have the original oak beams but you’ll also find the latest technology, including free Wi-Fi. At breakfast you’ll have home made jams and marmalades, kippers and a choice of 12 different sausages. And anything you managed to catch using your room’s fishing rod.
The tone for this luxurious but relaxed hotel is set by the welcome you get when the heavy oak front door is opened on your arrival. This is a dog-friendly and human-friendly hotel. Overlooking Windermere in the Lake District, Holbeck Ghyll is full of individual touches, reflecting the owner’s love of the countryside and above all, food. The Michelin-starred restaurant is recognised as one of the best in the country. The hotel’s spa, set in the hotel’s beautiful grounds, has thorough and luxurious treatments and you can set off on spectacular walks from the front door of this hotel, knowing that you’ll get the same welcome when you return.
It’s a quintessential English country house, complete with tennis courts and croquet lawns. In summer there’s also an outdoor swimming pool. Mallory Court’s large grounds also house a kitchen garden that provides many of the ingredients for the hotel’s two acclaimed restaurants, the Michelin-starred Dining Room and the more relaxed Brasserie that are both are overseen by award-winning chef Simon Haigh. In keeping with the hotel’s ambience, the 30 bedrooms are decidedly romantic and the surrounding area is full of history; Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford upon Avon is close by.
Staying here allows guests to feel as if they are in a classic English romantic novel. Built in 1830 for a wealthy clergyman and his family, this ivy-clad building exemplifies the best in late Georgian architecture. The grand drawing room has ancestral portraits, fires in winter and is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxed drink before dinner in one of the two restaurants. The bedrooms are a balance between history and contemporary; you’ll find four poster beds in some of the rooms but with crisp white linen, they are clean and sophisticated rooms which revel in their modernity.
As the name suggests the Hotel du Vin hotel group was born from a passion for wine. In the middle of Birmingham’s trendy Jewellery Quarter, this former eye hospital provides both luxury and a sense of theatre from the huge sweeping staircase to the granite pillars and the billiards room. In keeping with the hotel’s love of wine, all the rooms are named after vineyards. To really imbibe the atmosphere, book into the Penfold Suite. With an 8ft bed, its own private gym and wet room, it’s bold, invigorating and very refreshing.
Steps from the River Thames, this Georgian building was once a brewery. Intimate and relaxed, many of the 43 bedrooms and suites surround a paved courtyard where meals are served in summer. The restaurant, the Bistro, specialises in produce from the local area while the Snug allows you to retreat from the world with newspapers and magazines and squashy arm chairs. What really sets this hotel apart though is its Bateau du Vin, a restored barge that allows guests to take to the water and explore life on the riverbank in a most civilised fashion.
Proof that English boutique hotels don’t have to be drenched in history; Hart’s is housed in a daringly modern building that was built on the ramparts of Nottingham’s ancient castle in 2003. An award-winning design with just 32 clean, clever bedrooms, in summer the hotel’s garden is a complete joy. With views across the Nottinghamshire countryside, it’s a wonderful place to relax with a drink before heading to the adjacent restaurant. Run by Tim Hart, it has had food critics raving for decades.
The Cotswolds has romantic, historic hotels in abundance but the Dial House Hotel is really special. In the middle of the breathtakingly beautiful village of Burton, next to the River Windrush, this honey-coloured house is a wonderfully relaxing home from home where you can relax next to a log fire before enjoying a delicious meal at the cosy restaurant. Upstairs, you’ll find four poster beds, roll-top baths and a palpable sense of romance.
Whether you arrive by car, on foot or by bicycle, it’s not hard to see why this is an award-winning B&B. Just outside the centre of Bath, owners Natalie and Guy have turned part of their home into a hugely stylish guest house and it’s a wonderful base from which to explore the area. For a taste of real England, there’s even a fish and chip shop within walking distance! Their breakfasts have won acclaim – there’s everything you might want to start your day with, from fruit salads, freshly made pancakes and a proper English fry-up.