Old Oct 20, 18, 11:57 am
  #1  
DavidO
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Berkeley, CA
Programs: Virtuoso, FSPP, STARS, MO FAN Club, PEN Club, Bellini Club, Dorchester Diamond Club, Travel Leaders
Posts: 1,643
hotel reviews, mostly in the English countryside (some London)

I returned recently from an enjoyable seventeen night trip to England. The primary purpose of the trip was to explore the English countryside in some depth. We also spent four nights in London. I have reviewed the hotels in which we stayed as well as a few hotels we visited to make site inspections. Most are members of Virtuoso. Lympstone Manor and Lygon Arms are not Virtuoso; I recommend booking these through Celebrated Experiences for additional "celebrated perks." Stoke Park has no consortial relationships. You can see a google map of the hotels mentioned at this link; click on any of the "dots" for a listing of amenities.

As I mention with each of my reviews, these are my own subjective impressions. Others may and should disagree.


Chewton Glen

Chewton Glen is a country house hotel in Hampshire County. A boutique property with 58 bedrooms and 13 Treehouse accommodations, it has been named the best UK hotel spa by Conde Nast, a well deserved accolade. Claire and I each enjoyed one-hour massages, and Claire then spent an hour in their unique hydrotherapy facility about which she raved!


Chewton Glen seen from one side.

Room selection does matter here. I recommend that you request rooms on the first floor in the Main House. I would avoid rooms on the second floor, as these are directly under the roof with lower ceilings. While the hotel was mostly full, I was able to see the “Children of the New Forest” Suite on the first floor in the main building. It was especially attractive, but I have not included a photo as the guest had just departed and the room was not made up. I would also recommend rooms in the newer Croquet Lawn wing, 60 sqm junior suites with a more contemporary feel.

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Croquet Lawn Junior Suite
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Treehouses are a new addition to Chewton Glen, private and secluded 2BR bi-level units with a rustic feel. Two treehouses can be joined to create an entirely private 4BR residence if traveling with a larger family or group. The Yews is a true WOW, a contemporary 4 BR residence that sleeps up to 12 guests.

Room categories are as follows:
Garden Rooms (36-42 sqm, shower only)
Classic Rooms (36-42 sqm, shower and tub)
Estate Room (46 sqm)
Jr. Suite or Croquet Lawn (60 sqm)
Coach House Suites (81 sqm, duplex layout)
Master Suites (70-76 sqm)
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Food is a highlight at this Relais & Chateaux property. The Dining Room had an inventive menu, and The Kitchen is an excellent informal bistro serving gourmet hamburgers and lighter meals.

It’s an easy 15 minute downhill walk to the beach, and we made this walk twice. On our first visit to the beach, we enjoyed lunch at the Cliffhanger Cafe. The next morning, we walked along the beach to visit Highcliffe Castle, then continued into the town of Christchurch where we had lunch at The Noisy Lobster. Chewton Glen is convenient for visiting Winchester, Stonehenge, and Salisbury.


Lympstone Manor
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Lympstone Manor is a new hotel, just 18 months old, owned by Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines. True to its Relais & Chateaux heritage, think of Lympstone Manor as a great restaurant attached to an elegant hotel. Ideal guests are foodies who would eagerly anticipate experiencing one of the restaurant's 8-course tasting menus (135-145£). The main dining room also offers a three course à la carte menu at 125£, and a Light Menu is available in the lounge for guests who prefer something lighter. For more casual dinners, the Redwing Bar & Dining in nearby Lympstone is a taxi ride away.
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Gull Suite at Lympstone Manor
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Guestrooms are named after birds native to the area, and each room is decorated in a color scheme matching its namesake bird. Our room, The Gull (pictured above) is a Junior Estuary Suite decorated in blues and greys. It was a large room but frankly overly furnished. A King bed was centered on the wall at one end of the room. In the sitting area at the room’s other end were two facing sofas, a coffee table, and two additional benches on either side of the (non-functioning) fireplace. This furniture, more than two guests would ever use, took up too much of the floor space. The bathroom was on the small side with a single vanity, a large tub, a step-in shower, and a toilet. (Master Suites and up provide dual vanities).
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Room categories:
Classic Garden
Deluxe Garden
Deluxe Estuary
Jr. Suite
Master Suite (space divided between a small bedroom and a small living room)
Grand Estuary Suite
Superior Estuary Suite
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Lympstone Manor is set on a large estate, quiet and peaceful, with beautiful views overlooking the Exe River. We found it well situated for exploring Devon County. A newer hotel, it will mature into a very special place.


Lucknam Park
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The moment your car turns into Lucknam Park’s long driveway and passes between two rows of beech trees, you will get the sense of having arrived. A private home before being converted into a hotel, this is a truly luxurious resort set on 500 acres with a spa, tennis courts, indoor and outdoor gyms, and equestrian activities.


a most impressive drive up to Lucknam Park

There are 42 rooms, of which 13 are suites. Room selection matters here, and I strongly recommend booking a Master or Grand Master Suite for the ultimate experience. We were fortunate enough to be upgraded into the Camellia Suite (a Master Suite). This is probably the room to aspire to at Lucknam Park. With almost 1000 square feet of total space, the suite provides a separate bedroom and living room. Its tall windows look directly down the row of trees in front of the house. Our bedroom had a canopied four poster King bed and a seating area. Our living room was furnished with a queen sofabed (making this room great for families), easy chairs, a small dining table, and a wood burning fireplace. Our bathroom had dual vanities, a glass-enclosed rain shower, and a deep claw-footed soaking tub. The decor is traditionally elegant without even a hint of being stuffy. Carpeting, furniture, and wall treatments employed well coordinated shades of tans and golds, and windows were treated with heavy woven drapes with tasseled valences.


four poster canopy bed of the Camelia Suite

There are two Grand Master Suites, one at each of the house’s front corners. These large, open-floor plan suites feature curved bay windows overlooking the estate and working fireplaces. The bathroom provided dual vanities, a soaking tub, and a (non-enclosed) rain shower.

Smaller room categories include:
Snug — 15 sq. meters with double bed
Garden — 15-19 sqm. with double bed
Park — 19-28 sqm — King (some 4-poster beds) or Twin-twin
Cottage Suite — 26-35 sqm — Queen, King (some 4-poster), or Twin-twin


Lygon Arms

I was looking for for a comfortable hotel in the Cotswolds, set in an attractive village and convenient to other cute villages in the area; Lygon Arms fulfilled all of these goals. Broadway is an attractive town with good shopping, and Lygon Arms occupies an historic old building in the middle of town. I can recommend the hotel, but first determine whether you would prefer (a) a quaint, historic room with a sense of location (i.e., something in the original building) or (b) accommodations that are a bit more more up-to-date (i.e., a room in the courtyard or the newer building). Lygon Arms describes itself as offering four-star luxury, and I think that description is spot on.


our Junior Suite at Lygon Arms (in the historic section of the hotel)

86 rooms and suites are divided among seven categories: Snug > Cozy > Classic > Deluxe > Junior Suite > Courtyard Suite > Master Suite. In the older main building, each room will be completely different.

Snug rooms are the smallest and most inexpensive accommodations in the hotel. While each has its own private bathroom, they are not en suite; guests access their bathroom from the hallway. I recommend booking a Junior Suite or higher. As all rooms are completely different, be specific about your preferences so that they can be arranged. Do you want a separate step-in shower? Is a bathtub important? Are dual vanities a must? We were in a Junior Suite with all three … so it’s possible.

Book through Celebrated Experiences to score the Celebrated Perk of an upgrade at booking.


45 Park Lane

I had inspected but never stayed at 45 Park Lane, so I looked forward to spending two nights at this contemporary, Art Deco hotel in London, part of the Dorchester Collection. Located in Mayfair, the hotel is just a few steps south of the flagship Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane and a short walk north of the Four Seasons Park Lane. We were assigned a Deluxe King room on the second floor. A spacious 538 sq. foot room, it is a comfortable Junior Suite. The sitting area had a sofa and an upholstered easy chair facing a coffee table. A leather-covered desk at the opposite corner of the room provided convenient AC receptacles at desk level.


Deluxe Room at 45 Park Lane, overlooking Hyde Park

45 Park Lane is decorated in a masculine style — sleek and contemporary — with glossy black lacquered surfaces. The bathroom features a beautiful panel of onyx behind the soaking tub; when backlit at night, it makes a perfect nightlight. The room’s electronic light switches were a bit difficult to understand, but the hotel’s new GM is aware of the issue and is investing in new, user-friendly electronics. I especially loved … the pillows. Pillow taste is quite personal, but Dorchester Collection’s pillows, for me, offer the perfect mix of softness and support.

We enjoyed one breakfast at 45 Park Lane where portions are enormous and everything (except champagne and caviar) is included in your Diamond Club breakfast amenity. We ate breakfast the next morning in The Promenade at The Dorchester. Guests enjoy cross-charging privileges at the two hotels and can have their complimentary breakfast at either.


The Milestone

The Milestone is a traditional hotel in Kensington, right across the street from Kensington Park with views of Kensington Palace from some rooms. My wife loved the Milestone. Her words: it’s “just like a home … very tastefully done … I just like it.” My impression: like Cheers, the Milestone is a place where everybody knows your name. I was greeted by name every time I came through the lobby.


Bedroom of Master Suite #107

The Milestone has perfected the art of guest service. True experience: we checked into #107 upon arrival, a bi-level Master Suite. My wife liked the room, but when she washed out some laundry in the bathroom sink, the basin fell in. We phoned the front desk, very apologetically, and they immediately sent someone from engineering to the room. His only concern: was my wife OK? He put both of us at ease. The front desk got involved and, within minutes, the hotel was moving us to the adjacent duplex Master Suite, #108. The entire process was efficient and painless — and this minor disruption gave the Milestone an opportunity to shine. They were focused entirely on our comfort and well-being.


bedroom of Master Suite # 208

Our experience also highlighted the fact that each room of the Milestone is different, even adjacent suites. My wife preferred our first room, #107, which was decorated in with beautiful, feminine floral fabrics. I preferred the second room, #108, which was decorated in more masculine shades of red but especially because 108 had two bathrooms — a downstairs bathroom with a tub and two vanities … and an upstairs bathroom with a shower and two more vanities. (107 had only one bathroom with a single vanity and a shower in the tub). Always remember to advise your travel advisor about these kinds of preferences.

Lead-in rooms are small but because their dimension are more-square-than-long, even the smaller rooms feel comfortable. My advice: book a Master Suite for the best of all worlds!


Hotel Café Royal

Cafe Royal is the London member of SET Hotels. Located steps from Piccadilly Circus on Regent Street, it’s a convenient location from which to shop for clothes. During our site inspection, we viewed a Junior Suite as well as two of the hotel’s specialty suites. The hotel has an attractive lobby and great restaurants. I would describer its rooms as bold and minimalist — certainly controversial. One of my clients has called Cafe Royal “brilliant … the most underestimated hotel in London,” but it’s not for everybody. Take a look at the photograph and judge for yourself. Extremely contemporary, the room’s walls are hard blocks of limestone. Chairs are covered in monochromatic leather. The hardwood floor has a non-patterned area rug, and the bed has just a plain throw across its foot. They have created a very clean look without patterned draperies or wall art. The bathroom is unique with its soaking tub and the single vanity each carved from a single block of marble. There is a separate step-in shower.


Junior Suite at Café Royal

The hotel has excellent restaurants. We very much enjoyed our dinner at Laurent. The street-level Papillon which features all-day dining is soon to be replaced by Cakes & Bubbles. The spa features an attractive indoor pool.


Egerton House

Two adjoining townhouses on a quiet neighborhood street in Knightsbridge were joined together to form this Red Carnation Hotel, sister hotel to The Milestone. It’s conveniently located to both the Victoria & Albert Museum and to Harrods Department Store. If the V&A is in your plans, there’s an especially useful Virtuoso amenity here, a pair of member tickets to all current Exhibitions at the museum. They got my daughter and boyfriend admitted into an otherwise sold-out exhibit.


Studio Suite, # 32, at Egerton House

A small, boutique hotel with just 28 rooms, I have a very specific recommendation regarding rooms: request a room facing the front of the house. They have great light, and their windows look onto a very pleasant neighborhood street. My favorite room in the hotel is #32, a Studio King with a four poster bed. The two other most requested rooms are Deluxe King rooms #12 and #42. Not overly large, but each is a wonderful space with great character.


request rooms in the front of Egerton House for this neighborhood view


FS Ten Trinity Square

Literally a block from the Tower of London, guests at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square are in the perfect location to explore East London, a great base off the beaten track for exploring an historic neighborhood. We enjoyed a most informative tour from Blue Badge guide Mark King.


Deluxe Room # 139 at FS Ten Trinity Square

Set in an imposing Beaux Arts building, originally the Customs House for the Port of London, you’ll be impressed by the beautiful lobby with its round, domed rotunda. Guest rooms are contemporary in style. Deluxe rooms range from 30-45 sqm — simple, contemporary rooms decorated in warm, honey-blond colors. Definitely request a larger room in the category and specify whether you prefer a step-in shower and/or a soaking tub; most (but not all) rooms provide both. We were also shown a larger Executive Room, 53-67 sqm. It is likewise sleek and contemporary but cooler in tone, decorated in tones of grey and blue. Guest rooms are very comfortable, and if you’re hoping for Four Seasons quality, you will be delighted.


Executive Room # 144 at FS Ten Trinity Square

For something special, consider one of the spacious 1-4BR Residences. Residence guests enjoy access to the members-only Ten Trinity Square Private Club that provides meeting space, a cigar lounge, etc. Consider a Residence if you’re planning a corporate meeting; the CEO could stay in a Residence, gaining access to the Club, while other employees could be housed in regular guestrooms.

Claire and I had lunch at Mei Ume, an oriental restaurant offering Chinese/Japanese cuisine with a contemporary twist. It was the best meal we had in London. While Claire doesn’t especially care for Asian food, we both absolutely loved our lunch.


Cliveden

Cliveden is an impressive Manor House estate a half hour outside of London in the midst of National Trust lands, a great place to stay at the very end of your trip to England. Just 30 minutes from Terminal 5 at Heathrow (even during Rush Hour), stay here to enjoy a bucolic final evening in the UK and a quick and relaxed ride to the airport the next morning.


Buckingham Suite

This was my second stay at Cliveden, and I was blocked both times in the same room, the Buckingham Suite. Up the grand staircase from the Great Hall, Buckingham occupies the center three windows on the first floor. This massive room faces the formal gardens directly behind the house with a view of a bend of the Thames in the distance. Adjoining the bedroom is a huge bathroom with a claw-footed soaking tub, two sinks, and a step-in shower.


Deluxe Room

I also saw a “regular” Deluxe Room in one of the two wings off the main house, a large, high ceilinged room with tall ceilings. It was furnished with a canopied four poster bed. Even though I was staying in a massive suite, the room nevertheless felt spacious and very attractive.

Cliveden had the most comfortable beds, so I inquired about them. The secret: Relyon Pillowtop Mattresses, if you’re in the market for a new mattress.

What to do whilst at Cliveden? Enjoy walking the grounds of the 376 acre estate. While visitors have to pay to walk Cliveden’s wooded trails along the Thames, hotel guests enjoy complimentary access. The property has a small spa — book any appointments early to avoid being disappointed — with both indoor and outdoor heated pools. Enjoy classic dining in the main house or more informal dining in the Astor Grill, in the former stable.

Cliveden has hosted a bevy of royalty and other notables, its latest high profile guest (other than me, of course!) having been Megham Markle who stayed here the night before her wedding to Prince Harry.


Stoke Park

Stoke Park was not on my radar for this trip. It’s a country club + restaurant + small hotel in the same neighborhood as Cliveden. We spent the afternoon touring the area with a client who lives nearby and afterwards went to Stoke Park (where she is a member) for a cup of tea. I had heard of the hotel — it used to be Virtuoso and a member of the Celebrated Collection — so I asked for a site inspection. I was able to see two rooms in the main house, the Pennsylvania Mansion Signature Suite and the Coke Mansion Signature Suite. These were quite attractive rooms — I’ll let the picture speak for itself. However, it was hard to find open dates for either of these suites when checking availability in Sabre.


Buckingham Mansion Signature Suite

Stoke Park has some cinematic claims to fame. The Pennsylvania Suite was used in the filming of Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the golf match between James Bond and Goldfinger was shot on Stoke Park’s golf course.

























Last edited by DavidO; Oct 20, 18 at 4:12 pm
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