Ace Hotel Shoreditch
100 Shoreditch High St., Shoreditch
On any given weekday, the lobby here is packed with freelancers perched on every couch and communal table in the sprawling, lo-fi industrial space. It makes sense that this would be one of the area's main hubs of activity: There's wifi on tap, a coffee and snack bar, cold-pressed juices out the door at the hotel's own juice and mylk bar, and a small but well selected menu of breakfast and lunch items from the hotel restaurant, Hoi Polloi. Meanwhile, upstairs, the rooms, designed by Barber & Osgerby's Universal Design Studio, are decked out in vintage furniture with a slightly industrial edge. Slightly spare, they're planned for city travellers who plan to spend more time exploring the city than indoors. Photo: Andrew Meredith
At the Chapel
High St., Bruton
The town of Bruton in Somerset is populated by a good number of ex-Londoners who came down for the weekend and then never left. Among them is Catherine Bruton, a restaurateur who bought a run-down chapel on impulse in the early 2000’s, and inadvertently transformed it into the town’s hub, with a wonderful bakery, pizzeria, and restaurant. There are also a few hotel rooms upstairs, all totally lovely thanks to a collaboration with her designer husband, Ahmed Sidki. The rooms are spare, but decorated in beautifully hand-crafted, modern furniture (and incredibly comfy beds), and feature art on loan from Hauser & Wirth—gallerists Iwan and Manuela are good friends of Catherine’s and commissioned her to run the restaurant at their new Somerset space. Plus, oven-fresh croissants are delivered to the rooms each morning. The main attraction nearby is the new Hauser & Wirth gallery complex which opened last year, though those looking for a real taste of Somerset can head over to Westcombe Dairy to tour the cheese factory and local brewery.
Spread out over 18 acres of lush English countryside, Babington House, the thirty-two room Somerset outpost of London’s Soho House, is a two-hour drive from the city but feels worlds away. The Main House—a sprawling Georgian structure complete with a well-stocked library, cinema, and lounge—is home to 11 guest rooms, each boasting traditional décor, thoughtful modern tweaks, and freestanding claw-foot tubs. The Cowshed Spa offers signature treatments (the all-natural mud-soaks and massages are favorites), waxing services as well as access to both indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, and saunas. Though several on-site eateries (The Log Room is ideal for leisurely fireside dinners), a lengthy cocktail menu, and winding gardens have all the makings of a romantic getaway, kids are welcome. Teeny House (catering to the one-and-up crowd) and The Loft (outfitted with books, TVs, and gaming consoles for older kids) keep little ones busy while R&R-starved parents enjoy adults-only amenities stress-free. City-dwellers craving close-to-total seclusion are encouraged to hunker down in one of three split-level Walled Garden Rooms and indulge in a room-service menu that’s a far cry from standard hotel fare (think crispy oysters and buffalo mozzarella…
Belmond Cadogan Hotel
75 Sloane St., Knightsbridge
Currently undergoing a renovation (it's part of the Belmond family), and reset to open in 2017, this is one of London's great hotels. While we love it for the luxurious and cozy rooms, booking at this small, longstanding boutique hotel in Knightsbridge will also grant you access to the lush and private Cadogan Gardens and tennis courts. Lit fans should request room 118, Oscar Wilde's old room and the site of his infamous arrest.
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
Church Rd., Great Milton
This stunning old-world spot in Oxfordshire is home to Raymond Blanc's two Michelin-star restaurant and an attached Cookery School. There, you can master macaroons and pistachio soufflés, or a fail-safe menu for a Spring dinner party. They also have tons of cooking classes for kids. Speaking of children: There are only thirty-two tastefully appointed guest rooms, and while this Belmond has the feel of a quiet English countryside manor, they go above and beyond to ensure that little ones are entertained too. There are bikes, bocce, buckets of toys, and video games on-site.
Blakes Hotel London
33 Roland Gardens, Chelsea
For a while, Blakes was GP's home away from home in London. Touted as the "original boutique hotel," it has style and sex appeal for days while maintaining all the creature comforts (Bang & Olufsen tech, free-standing tubs) of a luxury establishment. The décor in the rooms is plush—expect lots of crushed velvet and jewel tones—and even a little bit escapist, making them ideal for a romantic night or weekend getaway. Plus, the main floor now boasts a sunny dining room, while the bar downstairs has undergone a classy refurb. This spot is as much of a sleek hideaway as it ever was.
33 Albemarle St., Mayfair
Brown's has epitomized British luxury since the Victorian era. And after its recent top-to-bottom revamp, it started racking up accolades for its elegant, amenity-packed rooms (there's even cookies-and-milk turndown service for kids) and classically British HIX restaurant at lightning speed. Request the Kipling Suite: Legend has it this is where The Jungle Book was written.
Charlotte Street Hotel
15-17 Charlotte St., Soho
Part of a larger group of wonderfully homey, modern and totally English hotels, one of the highlights here is high tea. What's truly thoughtful is that you don't have to rush to make tea time (a tough ask when sightseeing with little ones) since here, it's served all day. Kids go bonkers for the three-tiered trays of scones, cakes, and sandwiches while parents appreciate the quiet respite (and lengthy cocktail menu) of the hotel bistro, Oscar. This is the sister hotel to The Crosby in NYC.
New Milton, New Forest
The price tag is up there for the English countryside, but when you walk into the spa’s pool, which is flanked by colonnades, it starts making sense. The main highlight here is definitely the spa, with Linda Meredith facials, Ila treatments, and, apparently, the largest hydrotherapy pool in the UK. And then there are the Treehouses: A recent addition to the hotel, these contemporary suites are literally built into the trees on the property. Secluded and peaceful, with stunning views out into the trees and the property beyond, this is pretty much the definition of a luxurious countryside retreat. The rooms down on land aren’t bad either, with more traditional, cozy English décor—they’re all pretty big, too. Another plus is that the food here is great, with plenty of light options. You can balance your spa downtime with tennis, golf, clay pigeon shooting, or even falconry lessons. There are also great options for walks on the property and on nearby trails into the New Forest. It’s also really close to the ocean.
1 Chiltern St., Marylebone
Fans of Andre Balazs's other achievements in hospitality (the iconic Chateau Marmont in LA and Mercer in NY) will not be disappointed by his first project in London, which features a Nuno Mendez-helmed restaurant and 26 well-appointed rooms. The décor comes courtesy of the French Studio Ko, who seamlessly integrated original features like the fireman's pole, brick and tilework, and fire doors with velvet seating, glitzy marble bars, and old-fashioned, flower-print carpeting. The rooms, too, offer that fun mix of plush comfort and architectural detail—all meticulously thought through. You'll find plugs for every region, Bose Bluetooth speakers, and a kitted out mini-bar. While the wonderful restaurant and bar are unendingly scene-y, the guest quarters are very private, making it an unexpectedly excellent and restful stay.
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