Make your way for a sassy weekend at one of these small but beautifully sculpted English boutique hotels
No. 15 Great Pulteney, Bath
Best for … vintage lovers
P.The entire hotel is decorated with elegantly arranged curios, ranging from vintage cameras to framed evening bags. It works like a gallery. Each room contains unique contemporary artwork or murals, and even the afternoon tea tables (yum!) Are laden with vintage jewelry, thimbles, and other curios. The unique lost earrings chandelier sparkles at guests in the living room and adds to the glamor and drama of this stylish, quirky boutique hotel designed by Martin Hulbert and Jay Grierson, the duo behind Coworth Park and The Grove. The Dispensary Restaurant continues the theme with apothecary boxes and glass bottles from wall to wall. The menu is classic and contemporary, with a twist. The scallops with roasted cauliflower and crispy kale as well as the pressed pork belly with suckling pig croquette were two highlights of our stay.
Stella loves: The spa is located in the original cellars and has four treatment rooms. The balancing back massage is an absolute must. (Make sure it is open before you travel to avoid disappointment.)
On the go: The hotel is centrally located to all of Bath’s highlights, from the Circus and Royal Crescent to the Jane Austen Center (janeausten.co.uk). Right at the end of Great Pulteney Street is the Holburne Museum, which often features classical art and contemporary exhibits such as Grayson Perry’s Pre-Therapy Years, which runs until January 3rd (pre-order ticket (holburne.org). The area is famous for its gin bars too (The Canary on Queen Street is great) although you don’t really have to leave the hotel as Bar 15 has one of the best gin collections in Bath.
Rooms from £ 149 per night, b & b; all 01225 807015 or visit no15greatpulteney.co.uk
Read the full expert review: # 15 Great Pulteney
• An Insider’s Guide to Bath
The Eastbury, Sherborne, Dorset
This beautifully appointed townhouse hotel, just a short walk from the town’s 1000 year old abbey, is right in the Georgian style. Inside there is a billiards room and an excellent restaurant with two rosettes overlooking the pretty walled garden – the whipped goat cheese and chilled beetroot soup shouldn’t be missing. If the weather permits, have breakfast outside – there is honeysuckle, bluebells, and lavender – and spend the day playing croquet on the lawn. The rooms in the main house are exquisite (we loved the garden view suite in particular), and for larger families there’s a neighboring cottage that opened this summer (it can sleep up to six people), although we did Opted for one of the Victorian Garden Potting Sheds, spacious suites with mini-patios on-site with outside air, and chic Soho farmhouse-like decor. They’re dog friendly – just don’t forget to pack some skewers and marshmallows (see below).
Stella loves to roast marshmallows over the fireplace in the garden of our Garden Potting Shed – a perfect autumn evening.
On the go: There is plenty to see in the historic town of Sherborne, including the impressive abbey and the sweet ice cream parlor Ecco Gelato (ecco-gelato.co.uk). It’s an excellent base from which to visit Durdle Door in Lulworth (less than an hour’s drive), a natural limestone arch on the breathtakingly scenic Jurassic Coast – ideal for winter walks. (Tip: book parking before you travel to avoid the queues.) Return for a massage at the on-site spa, located in a cute little lodge on the premises (which looks like a hobbit home for the Lord of the Rings) – followed by dinner at the hotel. (Tables must be booked in advance. Check Covid openings and restrictions before you travel.)
Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites from £ 372 a night, b & b; theeastburyhotel.co.uk. It is best to visit by car; Rent one from Zipcar, from £ 3 an hour round-trip (zipcar.com)
Read the full expert review: The Eastbury
• The best hotels in Dorset
The Grange, York
Best for … country house atmosphere
This elegant Georgian townhouse used to be a private residence and feels like home … (if you are an aristocrat). High ceilings, original fireplaces, and a curved spiral staircase in the lobby give the lobby a stately feel, while the rooms are cozy and decorated with a modern grandeur. Patterned wallpaper and plump curtains are complemented by velvet armchairs and modern bathrooms, so the overall effect is more contemporary than chintzy. The beautifully appointed bar is ideal for a nightcap while curling up by the fire. On the ground floor, the vaulted brasserie serves British cuisine in an atmospheric cocoon of candlelight and exposed brick.
Stella loves: cocktails after dinner by the fire in the midnight blue ‘tapestry bar’.
On the go: The Bootham Bar, the gateway to the city center and the numerous shops, bars and restaurants are less than 10 minutes’ walk away. Stop for a piece of cake at Bettys Cafe and Tea Room, which was open at the time of this issue (bettys.co.uk), or for a glass of wine at Pairings Wine Bar – be sure to book in advance (pairings.co. United Kingdom). Visit Upside Down Design (upsidedowndesign.co.uk) for beautiful blankets, throws and housewares.
Rooms from £ 139 per night, B&B; Call 01904 644744 or visit grangehotel.co.uk
Read the full expert review: The Grange
• An Insider’s Guide to York
Tudor Farmhouse, Dean Forest, Gloucestershire
Best for … great views
Housed in a collection of 16th century stone buildings in the tiny, quaint village of Clearwell, this hotel is a lush escape from city life. There are spiral staircases and old beams, and 20 immaculate rooms – ours had duck pillows and roll-top baths. From the back gate you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Wye Valley. However, get back in time for one of the workshops – jewelry making, foraging, and embroidery were all on offer (see Covid restrictions). But the highlight was sitting in the hillside garden with a glass of red and looking over the village and Clearwell Castle beyond.
Stella loves: dinner! It’s a relaxed, leisurely affair with a consummate selection of locally sourced ingredients. The cheese platter is well worth ordering, and Sunday guests shouldn’t miss the pig’s starter.
On the Go: Just a three minute drive away is the lovely old forest Puzzlewood, featured in films like Star Wars and Harry Potter (puzzlewood.net, adult entry £ 7). Younger kids will love the Perrygrove Railway, a small steam train just across the street. Travel ten minutes deeper into the Forest of Dean to Beechenhurst, where kids at Go Ape (goape.co.uk, £ 19) can enjoy a canopy adventure while bathing in the tranquility of one of the UK’s oldest forests. Before visiting, check Covid-19 restrictions.
Rooms from £ 139 per night, B&B; tudorfarmhousehotel.co.uk
Read the full expert review: Tudor Farmhouse
Covid-19 rules are changing fast: before you travel, check local lockout rules and hotel websites for the latest guidelines (including restrictions on spas and restaurants)
Published by: Laura Powell. Reviews by: Jane Bruton, Sarah Royce-Greensill, and Fiona Cowood.