Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

TeleBest reviews: The 50 best UK hotels

Rhiannon Batten's expert guide to Britain’s best places to stay

Chewton Glen 

Set on the south coast, on the edge of the New Forest National Park, this country house hotel and spa is a true English classic. With 58 decadent rooms and suites, a three AA rosette restaurant, a lavish spa and 130 acres of grounds to explore, it offers utter decadence. Peter Browne rates it for its 'timeless elegance and impeccable service in a cosseting atmosphere'. 

Where New Milton, Hampshire, BH25 6QS (01425 275341; www.chewtonglen.com) 

How much from £313 per double per night, room only
Chewton Glen Set on the south coast, on the edge of the New Forest National Park, this country house hotel and spa is a true English classic. With 58 decadent rooms and suites, a three AA rosette restaurant, a lavish spa and 130 acres of grounds to explore, it offers utter decadence. Peter Browne rates it for its 'timeless elegance and impeccable service in a cosseting atmosphere'. Where New Milton, Hampshire, BH25 6QS (01425 275341; www.chewtonglen.com) How much from £313 per double per night, room only
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park This is 'one of the best-located hotels in London', according to Peter. 'It never rests on its laurels and is constantly evolving,' he adds. Recent events have included special 'sugar and spice and all things nice' afternoon teas, designed to reflect Jo Malone's vanilla and anise cologne. It also has a lovely spa. Where 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA (020-7201 3773; www.mandarinoriental.com) How much doubles from £329, B&B
The Soho Hotel 'Who would have thought a car park could end up being glamorous?' asks Peter. But this 91-room, central London hotel is 'innovative, lively, and relevant,' he states. Big windows let in plenty of light and the décor is contemporary without being all look-at-me showy. Where 4 Richmond Mews, London, W1D 3DH(020-7559 3000; www.firmdale.com) How much doubles from £280 per night, room only
Claridge's Claridge's retains old-world charm without being stuffy. Peter rates it for its 'old school plushness, and charming staff who treat everyone exactly the same, from rock royalty to local office girls'. Where Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4HR (020-7629 8860; www.claridges.co.uk) How much doubles from £570 per night, room-only
The Fitzwilliam Belfast's latest luxury hotel, the Fitzwilliam, features 130 glamorous rooms, a dramatic black, grey and gold lobby and bar. An ideal base for a decadent weekend seeing the city's sights, there's also a decent restaurant, 'Menu'. Where Great Victoria Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT2 7BQ (028 9031 1588; www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com) How much doubles from £125, room only
Charlotte Street Hotel The Charlotte Street Hotel offers 52 bedrooms and suites, two elegant drawing rooms decorated with original artworks, a gym and a funky screening room with orange leather seats. Where 15 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RJ (020-7806 2000; www.charlottestreethotel.com) How much doubles from £220, room only
The Howard If you want a traditional room rather than contemporary one, there's only one place for it in Edinburgh. 'Georgian elegance and attentive service at the Howard provide a luxurious escape from the bustle of the city centre. The hotel's garden encourages local wildlife, while the restaurant has a modern Scottish menu,' says Laura Greenman. Where 34 Great King Street, Edinburgh. EH3 6QH (0131-557 3500; www.townhousecompany.com) How much doubles from £185, B&B
The Grove 'This handsome Georgian country house is lost in Pembrokeshire's rambling hills. Big views shoot off towards the Preselis, wooded hills curl around you,' commends Alastair Sawday. 'Inside, Neil and Zoë have refurbished in great style and their fine Arts & Crafts home now mixes old and new to intoxicating effect. Bedrooms are divine and bathrooms are equally spoiling. Dinner is sublime.' Where Molleston, Narberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales, SA67 8BX (01834 860915; www.thegrove-narberth.co.uk) How much doubles from £130, B&B
Ardanaiseig Hotel Set on the banks of Loch Awe, this is a traditional country retreat. In the Scottish Baronial-style main building, rooms are like an amicable old toff - loud and decadent with a hint of naughtiness - so it's a surprise to turn a corner in the extensive grounds and stumble on a shiny, minimal wood and glass boathouse. 'Itmakes for the ultimate honeymoon retreat,' recommends Garri Rayner. Where Ardanaiseig Hotel, Kilchrenan by Taynuilt, Argyll, PA35 1HE (01866 833333;www.ardanaiseig.com) How much doubles from £60, B&B (from £123 for the boat shed)
Feversham Arms 'An 1855 coaching inn that seduces the moment you enter, its rich countryhouse interiors are classically inspired, yet the feel is fresh and contemporary. There's a snug bar and a sail-shaded conservatory/restaurant,' says Alastair. Where Helmsley, North Yorkshire, YO62 5AG (01439 770766; www.fevershamarmshotel.com) How much doubles from £150, B&B
Moss Grove Organic This Cumbrian retreat doesn't skimp on either style or substance. 'Big, big beds, deeply filled duvets and a delicious organic breakfast buffet make this one of my all-time favourites,' admits Laura. Where Grasmere, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9SW (015394 35251; www.mossgrove.com) How much doubles from £125, B&B
Holm House 'HolmHouse is a study in Art Deco glamour and elegance,' approves Sian Williams. 'No expense was spared in its recent renovation and its rooms are gloriously opulent as a result, with Frette linens and Jo Malone toiletries.' Where Marine Parade, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, CF64 3BG (02920 701572; www.holmhouse.com) How much
The Dorchester Sumptuous luxury and comfort are assured at Park Lane's Dorchester overlooking London's Hyde Park. Italian marble, ornate furniture and classic Art Deco style echo the hotel's 1930s pedigree, while the extravagance of its bath and shower rooms is unparalleled. Try its China Tang restaurant for excellent pan-Asian cuisine. Where The Dorchester, Park Lane, W1K 1QA (020-7629 8888; www.thedorchester.com) How much £455 plus VAT excluding breakfast for a Superior double room
Berkeley House 'A regular on the pages of the style bibles, Berkeley House also recently began operating as a guesthouse,' says Sian. 'It is the brainchild of acclaimed designer and photographer, Lena Proudlock, and has interiors that will have even the most style-savvy of guests drooling with desire.' Where 4 The Chipping, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8ET (01666 500051; www.lenaproudlockescapes.com) How much doubles from £100, B&B
Smart & Simple 'This Tunbridge Wells hotel does exactly what it says on the tin: it's smart and simple,' promises Garri. With 40 bedrooms, three meeting rooms, a garden and a small gym, it's just the place to base yourself for visiting nearby attractions such as Hever Castle, Chartwell and Sissinghurst. Unnecessary frills are given the heave-ho in favour of Egyptian cotton sheets, flatscreen TVs, wifi and power showers. Where 54-57 London Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 1DS (0845 402 5744; www.smartandsimple.co.uk) How much doubles from £65, B&B
Paskins Paskins combines Art Nouveau and Art Deco references with contemporary style. 'OK, so it's still not the cheapest but then Brighton isn't either,' shrugs Laura. 'With Paskins though, you'll find individual rooms, fantastic breakfasts and a cheerful welcome. That's what we call exceptional value.' Where 18/19 Charlotte Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1AG (01273 601203; www.paskins.co.uk) How much doubles from £75, B&B
The Inn at Whitewell 'Tucked away in rural Lancashire, with great food and fishing on the doorstep, this is a surprisingly sophisticated set-up in wonderful surroundings,' promises Peter. The inn's 23 bedrooms are deeply comfortable without trying too hard and, after a day out exploring the surrounding Forest of Bowland, the cosy bar and more formal riverside dining room are the perfect destination to unwind and indulge in some hearty local cooking - or a pint or two of the local brew. Where Near Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 3AT (01200 448222; www.innatwhitewell.com) How much doubles from £105, B&B
The Big Sleep, Eastbourne 'This is the latest of three Big Sleep hotels to open in the UK,' explains Sian. 'The 50-bed Eastbourne hotel offers sea views from most of the spacious rooms. Fresh and funky interiors and one of the town's coolest bars and games rooms add to the attraction, as do reasonable rates that include a decent continental breakfast.' Where King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, BN21 4EB (01323 722676; www.thebigsleephotel.com) How much doubles from £59, B&B
Church Street Hotel What you lose on location at this Camberwell bolthole you gain in individuality, service and, crucially, value for money. Rooms are decorated like a Mexican casita, the bar stocks an impressive range of rums and their breakfast, served in gorgeous crockery, is all organic. Where 29-33 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8TR (020-7703 5984; www.churchstreethotel.com) How much doubles from £90, B&B
Apex Waterloo Place This new hotel ticks all the right boxes for a weekend in Edinburgh. Although it has has a slightly corporate feel to it, there's plenty to recommend it including a great location, stylish rooms, a decent bar and restaurant, a small spa and serious environmental credentials. Where 23-27 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3BH (0131-441 0440; www.apexhotels.co.uk) How much doubles from £99, room only
Druidstone 'The Druidstone has been loved by many and misunderstood by some but if you've got children, the hotel is accommodating - and perfectly positioned for one of Pembrokeshire's glorious sandy beaches,' says Laura. Sian adds that it is 'crammed with character - and characters. It's not luxurious but it is cosy with great food'. Where Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, SA62 3NE (www.druidstone.co.uk) How much Doubles from £70, B&B
Gleneagles Since its sybaritic new spa opened, last year, Gleneagles has been attracting a slightly more sophisticated crowd alongside the golfing regulars. The hotel also has excellent facilties for children. Where Auchterarder, Perthshire, PH3 1NF (0800 704705; www.gleneagles.com) How much doubles from £199, B&B
The Elms 'With possibly the best cream teas outside of the West Country this is no place for restraint' warns Sian. There's also a glamorous new contemporary spa building and an excellent crèche.' Where Abberley, Worcester, WR6 6AT (www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk) How much from £130 per night for two adults and one child
The Ickworth This Suffolk stalwart is a godsend for families in search of some R 'n' R. Go for the 'glorious grounds, amazing history and the knowledge that grown-ups are taken as seriously as the children', says Peter. Where Horringer, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP29 5QE (01284 735350; www.ickworthhotel.co.uk) How much from £200 per night for two adults and one child
The Knoll House Garri recommends this independently run Dorset hotel for its 'brilliant location, amid pine trees on the edge of the Jurassic Coast, and very familyfriendly approach'. Where Studland Bay, Dorset, BH19 3AH (01929 450450; www.knollhouse.co.uk) How much doubles from £196, half board. Ask directly for family rates
The Rosevine Alastair sums this up as 'a super-smart family bolthole with views down to the sea'. Sian agrees: 'Families seeking the ultimate Enid Blyton-esque seaside break need look no further. This classic 1930s beach house has recently been given a new seaside-chic look.' Where Rosevine, Nr Portscatho, Truro, Cornwall, TR2 5EW (01872 580206; www.rosevine.co.uk) How much Family apartments (sleeping up to five) from £180 per night
Augill Castle 'Built 180 years ago, this Victorian gentleman's fantasy has become a wildly grand yet intimate green retreat,' says Alastair. 'One of Simon and Wendy's passions is slow living, so recycled finds mix with antiques, open fires crackle with estate logs, veg comes from the kitchen garden, and hens are fed on kitchen waste.' Ideally located a few hours drive between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. Where South Stainmore, near Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria,CA17 4DE (01768 341937; www.stayinacastle.com) How much doubles from £160, B&B
Scarlet Hotel 'Fresh, young and built with the best green intentions, the new Scarlet Hotel looks great and feels utterly at home in its environment,' says Peter. The Cornish Design Hotel include 37 bedrooms and a restaurant specialising in fairly unpretentious, locally sourced food. Where Tredragon Road, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, TR8 4DQ (01637 861800; www.scarlethotel.co.uk) How much Doubles from £180, B&B
Swinton Park, Set in 200 acres of parkland in the Yorkshire Dales, this 30-bedroom hotel boasts a popular cookery school and spa, the hotel is also committed to sustainability. Energy-saving measures include a wood-chip boiler to replace its oil burners and an eco-laundry. Where Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 4JH (01765 680900; www.swintonpark.com) How much doubles from £160 per night, B&B
Primrose Valley 'Expect plenty of green credentials, contemporary chic interiors and views across the glittering bay at this cool, little hotel a mere 30-second stroll from Porthminster Beach,' says Alastair. 'Owners Andrew and Sue are committed to sustainable tourism and source everything impeccably. Where Porthminster Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2ED (01736 794939; www.primroseonline.co.uk) How much doubles from £100, B&B
The Zetter 'This hotel gem in Farringdon mixes style with great service,' says Laura. Set in a converted Victorian warehouse, 'modern and kitsch objects like iPod docks, solar terrace lights and worn copies of Penguin classics sit side-by-side'. It's also built with sustainable timbers and finished with environmentally friendly paints. Where St John's Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5RJ (020-7324 4444; www.thezetter.com) How much doubles from £170, room only
Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons The creation of chef Raymond Blanc, Le Manoir is a country house featuring a two Michelin-starred restaurant. It's 'the most fabulous place to linger over lunch, nap in one of the beautifully decorated bedrooms and then start all over again with drinks before dinner', reckons Peter. Where Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford, OX44 7PD (01844 278881; www.manoir.com) How much doubles from £460, B&B
Waterside Inn 'The Roux-family showcase, with three Michelin stars and reassuringly old-fashioned décor, is a classic to be savoured,' suggests Peter. The inn is set on the banks of the Thames, with the restaurant at the heart of proceedings and bedrooms scattered between the main building and a cluster of surrounding cottages. Where Ferry Road, Bray, Berkshire, SL6 2AT (01628 620691; www.waterside-inn.co.uk) How much doubles from £190, B&B
Wallett's Court Garri recommends this country house hotel in Kent's 'White Cliffs Country'. The 17 rooms here are divided between the main building, a lovely old Jacobean manor house, and the adjacent former haybarns. There's also a third option - camping breaks in luxury tepees set deep in the grounds. All guests have access to the hotel's spa and pool pool and there's also a two AA rosette restaurant. Where Westcliffe, St. Margaret's-at- Cliffe, Dover, Kent, CT15 6EW (01304 852424; www.wallettscourthotelspa.com) How much doubles from £129, B&B
The Albannach Colin Craig and Lesley Crosfield have run the the characterful Albannach, in Lochinver for 20 years so guests are in good hands. The focus in the kitchen is on 'all things local, free-range and wild'. Where Baddidarroch, Lochinver, Sutherland, IV27 4LP (01571 844407; www.thealbannach.co.uk) How much doubles from £125, B&B
Darroch Learg Set on the side of a pretty hill above the scenic town of Ballater, Darroch Learg is a real treat, with a gem of a candlelit restaurant serving locally sourced produce with impeccable service. Try visiting Richard at Cycle Highland in Ballater to hire a bike and work off your tasting-menu excess. Where 55 Braemar Road, Ballater, AB35 5UX (013397 55443; www.darrochlearg.co.uk) How much from £65 to £150
Gilpin Lodge According to Alastair, 'Tom Bell, our hotel inspector, says this is ?one of the loveliest places to stay in the country, simple as that. Staff are delightful, the house is a treasure trove, the food is heavenly''. Family-run Gilpin delivers at every turn. Where Crook Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3NE (01539 488818; www.gilpinlodge.co.uk) How much from £145pp, half board.
Lords of the Manor This 1650 mansion is 'fit for a king in a spectacular setting', approves Alastair. 'A complimentary wine tasting for guests onSaturday evenings isn't a bad way to choose your tipple before sitting down to a Michelin-starred dinner.' Where Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire, GL54 2JD (01451 820243; www.lordsofthemanor.com) How much doubles from £191, B&B.
Strattons Hotel 'The celebrated Strattons Hotel continues to impress with its fabulous style and even more fabulous food,' states Laura. A stalwart in the Norfolk area, it has long enjoyed a loyal following among weekending gastronauts. Where Ash Close, Swaffham, Norfolk, PE377NH(01760 723845; www.strattonshotel.com) How much doubles from £150, B&B.
The Argyll Hotel Many of the Argyll's guests are repeat visitors and a big draw, of course, is the food. Much of it is made, with the help of a 1920s Aga, from scratch. 'Home-made, home-baked and home-grown are the foodie pillars of this remote Hebridean hotel,' sums up Laura. Where Isle of Iona, Argyll, PA76 6SJ (01681 700334; www.argyllhoteliona.co.uk) How much doubles from £35, B&B.
Llys Meddyg The town of Newport could rival Padstow for its great quality bistros, according to Sian. 'Most consider Llys Meddyg, a pretty restaurant with rooms, to be the best. Around 80 percent of the menu is sourced within a 20-mile radius and many of the herbs from their own garden.' Where East Street, Newport, Pembrokeshire, SA42 0SY (01239 820008; www.llysmeddyg.com) How much doubles from £100, B&B.
The George in Rye 'This picture-perfect Regency coaching inn blends original features with witty contemporary touches and luxuries,' says Sian. The restaurant is overseen by the former chef at London's Moro, while the George Tap Bar has glamour and cocktails in spades.' Where 98 High Street, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7JT (01797 222114; www.thegeorgeinrye.com) How much doubles from £125, B&B
The Groes Inn Hotel If you prefer a hotel where you can sup a pint, tuck into a homemade fish pie and then stumble upstairs to a decent bed, this north Wales escape could be the place for you. Its 14 bedrooms are far posher than those of the average pub but if you do want more decadence Garri advises going for 'the inn's very popular High Cabin suite; possibly the best log cabin in Britain'. Where Nr Conwy, North Wales, LL32 8TN (01492 650545; www.groesinn.com) How much Doubles from £105, B&B, High Cabin from £195 per night.
Roughluxe Hotel 'The juxtaposition of stripped-back walls and gilt-framed mirrors, modern art and custom-made furnishings is brave, funky and bound to be copied,' says Peter of this King's Cross retreat. The décor is fairly off-the-wall but the owners' have got the combination of shabby and chic spot-on. Where 1 Birkenhead Street, London, WC1H 8BA (020-7837 5338; www.roughluxe.co.uk) How much doubles from £175, B&B
The Pool House For one-off quirkiness with lashings of (slightly kitsch) style, the Pool House is hard to beat. A seafaring theme dictates the furnishings (often antique) of each bedroom. Some also have elaborate Victorian baths. Then there's a dining room ceiling painted with hundreds of stars and a wonderfully trad billiards and whisky room. Where Poolewe, Ross-shire, Scotland, IV22 2LD (01445 781272; www.pool-house.co.uk) How much doubles from £190, B&B
Fingals According to Alastair, visitors love the 'defiant individualism' of Fingals. 'Guests, many old fans, wander around as if at home, children and dogs mill about, tennis is played on the lawn. A handsome house, next to a stream, Fingals has a small indoor pool, a panelled dining room where guests can eat together if they fancy, log fires, a new sauna and jacuzzi, and books and pictures all over.' Where Coombe, Dittisham, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 0JA (01803 722398; www.fingals.co.uk) How much doubles from £90, B&B
Cley Windmill, Cley-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk 'The setting is magical, with rushes fluttering in the salt marsh and a vast sky that seemingly starts at your feet,' marvels Alastair. 'The windmill dates to 1713 and was converted into a house in the 1920s. Square rooms are bigger while round rooms in the tower are impossibly romantic.' Where Cley-Next-the-Sea, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 7RP (01263 740209; www.cleywindmill.co.uk) How much doubles from £78, B&B
LaRosa Hotel 'Anyone familiar with La Rosa's quirky brand of camping will be delighted to see the eccentricity transferred to bricks and mortar,' says Garri of this Yorkshire retreat. Laura also rates it. 'Perched on the west cliff in Whitby, La Rosa is a riot ofVictorian inspiration with flea-market objects and dressing-up boxes for guests coupled with memorably decorated rooms and sea views,' she explains. Where 5 East Terrace, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO21 3HB (01947 606981; www.larosa.co.uk) How much doubles from £80, B&B
Yotel These Japanese-style capsule hotels attempt to fill a gap catering to tired travellers in need of sleep, a good shower and some food - but not space. They're 'probably the only chance most of us will get to experience the beds in a plane's first class, albeit on the ground', says Garri. Where Heathrow Terminal 4 and Gatwick South Terminal (020-7100 1100; www.yotel.com) How much from £25 for four hours, then from £6.50 per additional hour.
Travelodge 'Uxbridge may not be everyone's desired destination,' admits Garri, 'but it is the setting of Europe's first hotel constructed from shipping containers.' A clever and cost-effective way of building, the end result looks little different from any other modern Travelodge. In the comfort stakes, the company has upped its game and you get a lot of bang for your buck. Where Colham House, Bakers Road, Uxbridge Middlesex, UB8 1RG (0871 984 6373; www.travelodge.co.uk) How much doubles currently from £12, room only. Standard rates start from £45 per room

From an overnight business trip to family accommodation and luxury boutiques.

Our expert panel consisted of:

Alastair Sawday is the founder of www.sawdays.co.uk ;

Sian Williams is the founder of www.babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk ;

Garri Rayner is the editor of www.holidaypad.net ;

Laura Greenman is director of www.ecoescape.org ;

Peter Browne is associate editor at ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ magazine ( www.cntraveller.com )

>>Click on the image to launch our guide

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