From England to Scotland with a quick step in Ireland, the UK has great hotels to stay when you are travelling. From historical hotels to modern ones, is your choice.
PENNYHILL PARK HOTEL – From 235 UK£
London Road, Bagshot, Surrey, England, UK
A location a half hour’s drive past Heathrow from London means that Pennyhill Park is a good deal more convenient than the average English country-house hotel. It’s not exactly Downton Abbey, but having one foot in the modern age is key to Pennyhill’s appeal — though it dates back only to the 1920s, this Surrey estate is all ivy-clad atmosphere, and even the new residential wings stick to the style of the place, a sort of art-directed mod-glam version of a country-house romance.
The former is simply known as The Spa, which is the sort of mock-understatement which belies a supreme self-confidence — and a look around the lavish facilities reveals that they’ve got quite a lot to be confident about. The same applies to the restaurants as well; The Latymer, under the direction of the Michelin-starred Michael Wignall, is Pennyhill Park’s fine dining option, and The Brasserie is more casual but no less worthwhile.
EUROPA HOUSE APARTMENTS – FROM 210 UK£
79A Randolph Avenue, Little Venice, London, England, UK
Obviously there are plenty of reasons to put up with central London’s overheated hotel market. In the name of geographic convenience we’re often moved to pay quite handsomely for a room that’s, at best, a step or two bigger than snug. But if you’re at all all flexible with your location — or, better yet, if business or pleasure brings you to Maida Vale — then the Europa House Apartments present themselves as an altogether more humane solution.
ST MARTINS LANE HOTEL – FROM 140 UK£
45 St. Martin’s Lane, London, England, UK
St Martins Lane was the first Ian Schrager/Philippe Starck collaboration on English shores, moving into Covent Garden a few months ahead of its younger sister, Soho’s Sanderson. The concept (at both hotels) is Urban Resort, and there’s no question guests walk into a different world upon entering, a world furnished with golden tooth-shaped seats, life-size chess pieces and hanging bare lightbulbs. Starck’s trademark irreverence may not look as novel as it did a few years ago, but it certainly sets a tone, quite a contrast to the English urban-country-house norm.
COWORTH PARK – FROM 265 UK£
Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire, England, UK
The Dorchester hotels have, up till now, been an urban phenomenon. But lessons learned at the Plaza Athénée, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the original Dorchester in London, pay off in the Berkshire countryside at Coworth Park, the Dorchester group’s first country-house hotel.
As a hotel it’s brand new, but the house is a stunningly well-preserved 18th-century Georgian antique, surrounded by 200+ acres of parkland — and, as it happens, it’s an equestrian paradise, with its own polo field, in a location that’s close to the racecourse at Ascot and to Windsor Great Park.
THE CONNAUGHT – FROM 250 UK£
Carlos Place, London, England, UK
In days past the Connaught was as old-school as can be, a bastion of country-house pomp in the heart of Mayfair. Today, after extensive renovations and a redesign by Guy Oliver, it’s less the archetypal country manor and more the archetypal London luxury hotel, which sounds like a dismissal but isn’t actually; these interiors won’t shock you with their originality, but the muted colors and clean lines, along with judiciously preserved traditional references, project just the right atmosphere of stately seriousness.
BROWN’S HOTEL – FROM 209,99 UK£
33 Albemarle Street, London, England, UK
Boutique hotels come and go, but a few of London’s top hotels have been in it for the long haul. At the end of the last century Brown’s, a fixture since 1837, was starting to show its age. But after a big-ticket renovation (the top-to-bottom Olga Polizzi treatment) it’s back in business, as grand, refined and quintessentially English as it must have been back in its 19th-century prime.
Classics of British literature line the shelves, paintings by British artists hang on the walls, and The Donovan Bar is named for the photographer Terence Donovan, whose prints are prominently displayed. And for patrons of the West End theatres, the Albemarle opens early enough to enjoy a pre-theatre dinner from its menu of British classic dishes, created by Executive Chef Lee Streeton and Director of Food Mark Hix.
INVERLOCHY CASTLE – FROM 250 UK£
Torlundy, Fort William, Scotland, UK
One of the best things about unrenovated historic properties is the fact that there’s a limited number of rooms — not to be greedy, but it’s a fine thing not having to share the house with too many fellow travelers. And of course it means they remain spacious, when the suites in particular could well have each been split into two or more contemporary-sized rooms.
Of course the place isn’t entirely untouched by modernity. Amenities have been updated where it really counts, which is essentially just in matters of electronics and plumbing. Otherwise it’s as it would have been on its founding in the 1860s: such country pursuits as shooting and fishing by day, and a lavish dinner in one of two dining rooms by night. Change, we think you’ll agree, is highly overrated.
INIS MEÁIN RESTAURANT & SUITES – FROM 250 €
Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland
It’s not the first place you’d look for a hotel like this. Which, one imagines, is pretty much the point of the place. Inis Meáin is just a speck of a place, a tiny island in Galway Bay on the Atlantic side of Ireland, home to just 150 people. But two of those 150 are your hosts, a chef and his hotelier wife, who, with the help of one of Ireland’s leading architects, are responsible for the Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites.
A big hotel could easily double the island’s population. So this is not a big hotel. Five suites seems about right for Inis Meáin’s size, and each one is soothingly spare, almost religiously so — clean lines, simple spaces, and huge framed views of the island and the bay. This is the kind of pared-down modern luxury that would be inspiring enough in the city — in such a unique setting as Inis Meáin, it’s downright unforgettable.
THE WESTBURY HOTEL – FROM 161 €
Grafton Street, Dublin, Ireland
There are bolder and brasher hotels in the Dublin city center, but guests who prefer a bit of classicism with their contemporary design find plenty to love about the Westbury, just off Grafton Street in what’s got to be one of the most desirable locations in town.
The interiors succeed in walking that fine line attempted by so many luxury boutiques: the look is contemporary enough to look fresh even to devoted design junkies, yet classic enough to avoid alienating all but the most staunch traditionalists.
CITIZENM HOTEL GLASGOW – FROM 56 UK£
60 Renfrew Street, (corner of Hope Street), Glasgow, Scotland, UK
It’s easy enough to get wrapped up in Scotland’s past, especially in the countryside: many visitors opt for a bed and breakfast, a village guesthouse or a classic golf resort. The cities are too often overlooked, especially among design junkies. There’s more to Glasgow than Charles Rennie Mackintosh — in the city center you’ll find the decidedly modern CitizenM.
This small chain started with an award-winning Amsterdam airport hotel, and their second effort is just as ambitious. Clean modern lines mix with modern utility as rooms and common spaces are laid out logically and cheerfully, all filled with abundant natural light, modern conveniences, and a vaguely Nordic practicality.