4 British Towns for Luxury Weekend Breaks
York is an ideal destination for a weekend break, with its historic 14th century streets known as The Shambles, the impressive Minster gothic cathedral and the York Castle Museum offering plenty of culture and charm. The historic city has many establishments or hotels for visitors to choose from but only one offers true, unadulterated elegance and that’s The Cedar Court Grand hotel; York’s only five-star hotel.
The Cedar Court Grand is located in the old North Eastern Railway (NER) headquarters. The hotel’s vast, wide corridors and high ceilings give the building an air of Victorian decadence reflective of the architect’s brief to produce a property that reflected the NER’s standing following Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Its Grand’s history lies around every corner.
Located in the former vaults where North Eastern Railway stores its millions, is the hotel’s Spa. The Grand juxtaposes luxurious Roman baths and sleek treatment rooms. Its shoulder, neck and back massage is highly recommended and melts away all the tension of a busy week of work.
Dinner at Hudson’s provides another opportunity to delve back in time. Named after George Hudson, who ensured that Stephenson’s new railway from London to Newcastle in 1839 did not bypass York, the restaurant is refined, you no-nonsense in its approach. Starters as varied as oysters in tempura batter with lime piccalilli and brioche and Jerusalem artichoke soup with truffle cream and chive oil showcase the chef’s talents. For the traditionalist, the range of grills will not disappoint either, with fillet steak cooked to perfection, heightened by confit tomato and Cafe de Paris butter.
The beds at the Grand is to die for and after a night of comfortable sleep a luxurious breakfast awaits. The breakfast buffet is one of magnificent proportions consisting of delicates pastries, exotic fruits, cold meats and fish – giving you the energy you need to explore the city. It is easy to see why the Cedar Court Grand is York’s only five-star hotel, aside from its five-star rating, the Grand is an obvious place to stay thanks to its ideal location, nestled behind York’s historic city walls.
THE NEW FOREST
If you are a regular escape-to-the-country sort, you might be familiar with Chewton Glen’s tree houses. The suites, with floor-to-ceiling windows are mounted on stilts in the canopy of the New Forest and generate a lot of press coverage for the country house hotel.
That said, there are many other reasons to visit: the hotel is comfortable and understated, with everything you need. The junior suite in the main building comes complete with a balcony overlooking to grounds, a huge marble bathroom and linen with a thread count that would make your mother very proud.
Suites are designed in two ways, which means you can request either a contemporary interior, with its handsome wood floors and velvet throws or country style decor. Whether it’s the sense of space or styling, it’s overwhelmingly peaceful even when inundated with guest, children are welcome too.
Chewton Glen offers digital detox weekends focused on meditation and healthy eating, during which the team will gladly store your phones safely and plan a variety of mindful activities.
The spa at Chewton Glen includes a 17-metre swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool, saunas and organic Ila products (opt for the bespoke massage to feel the full effect). Testament to its relaxed nature, you can even feast on a buffet at its spa cafe, or request a Ploughman’s, post-treatment.
One of Chewton Glen’s biggest successes however, is the food served in the Dining Room, an informal restaurant housed in a conservatory, which offers award-winning dishes made with rosemary, kale, chives and turnips cultivated in its own kitchen garden.
Taking up residence in an architectural landmark is a rare experience, and that’s what The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa in Bath offers. In the centre of a sweeping crescent of townhouses, the Georgian property’s historical character has been tastefully preserved. As a result, a stay in it John Wood deluxe suite, complete with canopied four-poster bed drowning in sumptuous cushions, a fireplace and large, shuttered windows, feels both traditional and regal (but with the addition of 21st century amenities of course).
Although located conveniently for exploring the city’s Roman Baths and impressive Abbey, the hotel has an acre of expertly landscaped gardens. A pocket of calm, you can take tea on the lawn or unwind on a sun lounger, before moving on for further relaxation time in The Spa & Bath House. Its 12-metre long pool with stone walls and arched windows has an almost chapel-like, serene atmosphere, and is best enjoyed before the Royal Crescent Signature Treatment, which combines a sleep-inducing back exfoliation , hot stone massage and facial.
Guests should dedicate their evening to dining in the adjacent Dower House restaurant, where they offer a tasty menu heavy on seasonal produce.
The Royal Crescent Hotel is available to hire in its entirety, including its restaurant, spa, gardens and 45 rooms, Deutsche Bank is one of its corporate customer.
The hotel’s 110 staff provide 24-hour room service, chauffeured transfers and private tours, as a well team-building activities such as golf, horse riding and hot air balloon flights. There is also an option to host events on the private lawn in front of the crescent, such as cricket matches with afternoon tea and glamorous black tie dinners, for ultimate exclusivity.
The Wild Rabbit, a country inn with rooms – but one on the very chic end of the scale – is the perfect bolthole for city dwellers. The quaint Cotswolds village of Kingham which it inhabits benefits from a direct rail link to London Paddington, unusual for the area, and with a journey time of around one hour and 30 minutes it’s convenient for a weekend getaway. The local village itself makes for a pretty stroll (chocolate box cottages and thatched roofs, check) and there are other places within easy reach to explore.
This corner of the Cotswolds is very much Bamford territory. As well as running the inn itself, the Bamford family also operate the nearby Daylesford farm shop and cafe and the accompanying Bamford HayBarn Spa. The Wild Rabbit serves a selection of the farm’s organic produce, from the wide array of fruit served with breakfast, to its sparkling wine, which goes down well with a hearty wood-fired pizza.
Don’t miss out on a meal during your stay, the food is worthy of the inn’s Pub of the Year title in the Michelin Eating out in Pubs 2015 guide. An airy open dining space complements the more cosy bar area, where mismatched leather armchairs and large open fireplace are just crying out for winter to come around.
If you plan on venturing further afield, village hopping by car is the best way to spend the day, Stow-on-the-Wold (where Britain’s alleged oldest inn serves a top Sunday roast) and Bourton-on-the-Water are two of the most popular spots for visitors, and the hotel is also armed with walking routes, guide books and helpfully, umbrellas.
If you are however happy to stay put, The Wild Rabbit’s pure linen sheets, cotton robes, Bamford Bath & Body products and power showers wont discourage you. With only 12 rooms, it feels more like a home than a hotel, the cosy feel enhanced by rustic wooden beams, exposed brickwork, window seats – even in the bathroom – and minimalist illustration of wildlife by Hugo Guinness. It ‘s the king of place to go to shake off your cares and lose yourself in a good book.