Survived lockdown – but sick of your hubby? A weekend in one of these four hotel suites will put the sparkle back. (And cheaper than a divorce lawyer…)
The Biltmore, Mayfair, London
Best for… city lights
This upmarket hotel in the heart of Mayfair is very much your bells and whistles, pull-the-stops-out destination. Just five minutes away from Hyde Park, New Bond Street and Buckingham Palace, the location is second to none. And each of its 307 rooms and 57 suites scream luxury and smell new and expensive. Expect acres of marbled floors, sky-high flower arrangements and exceptionally attentive staff. Add Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton and Paul Walsh’s restaurant The Betterment, and you’ve booked yourself the romantic minibreak of your dreams.
Stella loves: The cosy and stylish Pine Bar cocktail lounge, with drinks named after British icons. The Penny Lane gin cocktail is highly recommended…
Out and about: Grab your trainers and explore the best that our capital has to offer on foot as this hotel has arguably the best postcode in the capital. Just steps away and you’re on Oxford Street (pack a face mask). Culture buffs should head to the National Gallery or the Royal Academy of Arts (check restrictions and book a ticket in advance). For history lovers there is Westminster and Buckingham Palace within easy reach. No public transport necessary.
Rooms from £350 a night; visit xrhotels3.hilton.com/lxr/biltmore-mayfair
The Roseate Reading, Reading, Berkshire
Best for… sex appeal
There’s a reason that this opulent 55-room property was voted the sexiest town-house hotel. Located in the heart of Reading, it has plush four-poster beds and a mixture of modern pizazz with original Edwardian features. The finishing touch is a dramatic chandelier in the hall made with 86,000 Italian glass beads. Ease into the trip with the Traditional Bali massage (from £60) combining acupressure, reflexology and aromatherapy at the hotel’s Aheli Spa. The Reading Room restaurant and bar serves a mean pre-dinner cocktail:try Norland Park, a whimsical drink inspired by Jane Austen and served in a china teacup.
Stella loves: Watching classic movies in the hotel’s cinema, complete with its plush red leather sofas.
Out and about: Reading Museum is a fun day out if the children are joining your weekend away (free admission) – Bayeux Tapestry Tours can be booked on Saturdays (£5 per person); check opening times and Covid reopening dates before visiting (readingmuseum.org.uk). The picturesque town of Henley-on-Thames, eight miles from Reading, makes for an ideal day trip. Visit the town’s historic centre and grab a coffee at H Café, a standalone cafe affiliated with Harrods, then browse the independent vintage boutiques. Round the afternoon off with a romantic riverside stroll.
Suites from £230 a night; call 0118 952 7770 or visit roseatehotels.com/reading/theroseate
Read the full expert review: The Roseate Reading
Dormy House, Cotswolds, Worcestershire
Best for… rock’n’roll vibes
Judging by its serene, wooded setting, you might be fooled into thinking this rambling farmhouse hotel is sedate. But up in the eaves, its true character comes out: we stayed in the Studio Suite, which has a drum kit, record player and excellent library of LPs, while at night it’s lit by gin bottles filled with tiny fairy lights. (There’s a pull-out bed for children, and some rooms are dog-friendly.) From the moment you arrive there’s a palpable sense of fun, from the signage to the decor and the newly installed wine-dispensing machine. It’s also a place to recharge: check out the in-house spa, with indoor pool, outdoor hot tub and a sequence of dreamily scented shower therapy rooms. Get up in time for the enormous breakfast, served in The Back Garden restaurant. And we do mean enormous: we had trouble fitting everything on the table.
Stella loves: The note left in the room instructing us to take a running jump on to the bed.
Out and about: The local village, Broadway, is cute as a button. I defy you to leave the Broadway Deli with anything left in your wallet (broadwaydeli.co.uk), and look out for the candy-striped Icicle Tricycle, which sells ice cream (find it outside the Lygon Wine Bar on sunny days). This is pub-lunch country: try the picturesque Blue Boar in Chipping Norton (blueboarpub.co.uk) or have a superb pizza at The Crown in Woodstock (thecrownwoodstock.com). On your return, have dinner at Hook restaurant, at Dormy House’s sister hotel (also on the Farncombe Estate). Nature lovers should stop at the nearby Cotswold Falconry Centre in Moreton-in-Marsh (cotswold-falconry.co.uk) or The Cotswold Farm Park, a 15-minute drive south.
Rooms from £269 a night, b&b; dormyhouse.co.uk
Read the full expert review: Dormy House
The Wilder, Dublin, Ireland
Best for… Victoriana glam
The decor inside this red-brick town-house hotel, which was originally used as a home for retired governesses, is a quirky mix of Victorian charm and modern elegance. Think dark teal with pops of colour, glints of metal and modern art. Each room has a stack of books to dip into if time allows. It is also a stylish base in a quiet location that’s an easy walk from the city centre – the inviting outdoor terrace is ideal for drinks after a hard day of hitting the plastic, as is the Gin and Tea Rooms, which serves bespoke craft gins from across Ireland.
Stella loves: The delicious-smelling Maison Margiela products in the bathroom.
Out and about: The perfect spot for exploring Dublin on foot. Head north, past the National Concert Hall, to St Stephen’s Green, a lively city centre park. Also pre-book a tour of Oscar Wilde’s childhood home at Merrion Square (oscarwildehouse.com). For dinner, cross the River Liffey at Ha’penny Bridge and drop into the The Winding Stair, a bookshop and restaurant, named after a Yeats poem, which has been a city landmark since the 1970s (winding-stair.com).
Rooms from £133 a night, b&b; thewilder.ie [Please note that travel to Ireland for holidays was not permitted when this went to press – keep up to date with travel restrictions on Gov.uk. Cancellations for bookings at this hotel can be made up to 24 hours before arrival]
Read the full expert review: The Wilder
Edited by Laura Powell. Reviews by Marianne Jones, Kate Bussmann and Anne Clarke.
Hotels in England will reopen for holidays and international travel will be permitted no earlier than 17 May, according to Government guidelines. Check local travel restrictions and hotel policies before you go