Showing posts with label hotels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hotels. Show all posts

Monday, 11 February 2013

Hotel review - The Pig in The Wall

I’ve just discovered my all-time favourite B&B. Surprisingly, it’s not in a secluded Gloucestershire valley or halfway up a Cumbrian mountainside. It’s actually in Southampton – which is brilliant for catching the Isle of White ferry or a cruise to sunnier climes, but not exactly known as a holiday destination.

The Pig in the Wall is the sister establishment to the Pig in the Forest, a five star hotel in the New Forest, and opened in October 2012. The name is inspired by its unusual (and very striking) location – the 12-bedroom boutique hotel is built into a gap in Southampton’s medieval wall, just minutes from the harbour.

Inside, it is utterly stunning. The rooms are designed by Judy Hutson (wife of co-owner Robin Hutson, who founded the Hotel du Vin chain) and are so chic and comfortable that I’d love her to sort my own house out. My favourite touches were the mismatching (deliberately) multicoloured floor tiles in the bathroom, the railway sleepers used for the floors and landing, the Roberts Radio and old-fashioned alarm clock by the bed and the framed newspaper prints (one with the headline Titanic Disaster from April 1912) lining the walls.

The Southampton Pig doesn’t have a formal restaurant although there’s a smart-looking Land Rover in the car park that whisks guests to the New Forest Pig if they so choose.

But the Pig in the Wall has an informal deli-bar (serving salads, charcuterie and wines by the glass) and also serves up a cracking breakfast. The stylish green drawing room is filled with books, wooden trays of plants and an eclectic collection of jugs and china and I felt so at home in my leather armchair that I could happily have stayed for hours. I helped myself to fresh apple juice and banana bread, the friendly staff brought several pots of Earl Grey tea and yes, all was right with the world.

The Pig in the Wall, 8 Western Esplanade, Southhampton, SO14 2AZ.

PS. Watch out for the next Pig venture. The Pig on the Beach, at Studland in Dorset, is coming soon...

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Hotel review: Mama Shelter in Paris

If you’re looking for a chic hotel in Paris that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg then Mama Shelter could be the place for you. I’d been wanting to stay there for ages and last weekend I finally got the chance.

Situated near the Père Lachaise cemetery in the 20th district (or as Parsians would say, the vingtième), it’s not the most central location. The metro is a brisk ten-minute walk and then it’s eight stops to Hôtel de Ville. But if you don’t mind that (and we didn’t at all), then give it a try. 
Designed by Philippe Starck and opened in 2009, Mama Shelter boasts ultra-modern rooms with crisp, white linen, Kiehl’s shampoo and soap, iMacs and free Wi-Fi. Best of all, the prices are reasonable by Paris standards. My daughter and I paid 79 euros each for a room with twin beds and an en-suite shower.

From the chic dining room (boasting every make of trendy chair you can possibly imagine) to the rooftop terrace, Mama Shelter is gorgeous to look at. I particularly liked the giant mirrors with details of the day’s events in Paris scrawled across the glass and the low blackboard ceilings covered in chalked drawings and graffiti.

On Saturday morning we had coffee at a traditional café en route to the metro station at Gambetta but on Sunday we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast at Mama Shelter. The cost was 15 euros each, which seemed a little on the steep side – until we tried it out. As we helped ourselves to limitless coffee, fruit, yoghurt and croissants we realised we didn’t need to eat again till supper-time.

It was a balmy 26 degrees in Paris on Sunday so we sat outside on the long, narrow terrace overlooking a disused railway line. With its huge outdoor lanterns, massive sofas and friendly staff, Mama Shelter has an urban charm all of its own.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Hotel review - The Hoxton, London

In my days as an on-the-road reporter I used to stay in hotels quite a lot. Now my hotel stays are as rare as my trips to the gym. But this week I hotfooted it to east London to spend two days with my daughter. After scouring scores of websites we eventually plumped to check into The Hoxton in Great Eastern Street. As well as being just round the corner from Spitalfields, Columbia Road and all the places we wanted to visit, it looked good value and good fun.

And so it proved. The Hoxton, which opened in 2006, focuses on the things customers really care about. The room prices are cheaper the further in advance you book and every so often there’s an online £1 a room sale. Instead of leaving endless reams of literature in your room, they give you the basics about room service and the flat screen TV on postcards labelled the “really boring stuff.” 

Rates for the night include free WiFi (no annoying codes), tea bags, bottles of water, milk, copy of The Guardian and a Pret breakfast of orange juice, banana and granola delivered to your door in a paper carrier bag. Oh, and there’s a corkscrew so you can bring your own bottle of wine and actually open it. The twin room we stayed in was small (with an en suite shower room) but the beds were super comfortable, with fine cotton sheets and duck down duvets.

The best bit was sitting by an enormous open fire on the ground floor, lounging back on a massive leather Chesterfield with the morning papers and a skinny latte. The only drawback was that it was all so comfy that at 11.30am we had to pull ourselves together and actually go out and do something.

When we got back to the hotel that night we were so exhausted that we couldn’t summon up the energy to eat in the hotel restaurant, the Hoxton Grill – all exposed brickwork, huge wooden tables and chic lamps. So we ordered a bowl of chestnut hummus (delicious) and some flatbread, poured ourselves a glass of Pinot Grigio each and settled down in front of the BAFTAs. Bliss.
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