Britain’s towns are really rather splendid, as are the places to stay in them, says Daisy Finer. Here, she brings us three of the best British hotels for art lovers.
3 Best British Hotels for Art Lovers
1. No.15 Great Pulteney, Bath
Glorious Bath has yet another reason to entice us to its honey-coloured streets, with the arrival of its first proper boutique hotel. Perfectly located for the main attractions, on a broad thoroughfare that transports you immediately to Jane Austen’s Emma, inside you’ll find no such old-fashioned literary leanings. Instead, quirky art and artefacts dominate, along with Martin Hulbert design, killer cocktails and downstairs bathrooms worthy of a princess.
Retro items such as old NatWest piggy banks adorn the stairwells, while fragments of the original Georgian wallpaper and murals commissioned from local art college students in the bedrooms keep things interesting. There’s no restaurant for supper, but breakfast, lunch and nibbles are catered for at Café 15, and you can always nip upstairs to the help-yourself Larder, filled with ice cream, chocolates and crisps. The imminent arrival of the spa should seal its destiny as a top Bath address.
Book it: Doubles from £110.
2. The Kings Head, Cirencester
This 14th-century coaching inn in the centre of Cirencester was revamped two years ago and transformed into a chic urban stay. The original architectural details are still visible in the 45 rooms, some of which come with exposed brick feature walls, wooden beams and velvet sofas.
It has everything you could wish for, right at your fingertips. The all-day restaurant serves up modern British food (we like how the menu is split into two categories: something simple and something special, with Gloucester Old Spot sausages and onion gravy falling into the first section and pan seared sea trout with aubergine caviar in the latter) and if you want to really spoil yourself, relax over afternoon tea and scones by the fireplace.
Plus, there’s the spa, which has hooked up with Lubatti skincare on treatments such as the indulgent toning cocoon wrap and caramel body polish, where skin is exfoliated with the natural sugar cane and left feeling blissfully nourished. Pampering done, it’s time to explore – and the hotel is perfectly positioned for that, with everything from the Cirencester Polo Club to Highgrove House right there on the doorstep.
Book it: Doubles from £140.
3. Artist Residence, Brighton
There’s no missing the pink front door of this townhouse in Regency Square, which is just the right distance away from all the Brighton buzz. It’s the original of the mini Artist Residence chain (with others in Penzance, London and Oxfordshire), which has made its name by commissioning artists to put their stamp on many of the rooms. Here, that means a street scene mural by London-based Jo Peel in one and a mixed media collage by local artist and printmaker Bonnie and Clyde in another.
If you don’t fancy sleeping somewhere so bold, there are also house-style rooms with industrial lights, reclaimed furniture and wooden floorboards, plus Below Deck pads for those who want to party (they are in the basement so expect some noise). Most come with sea views and the sound of seagulls.
The Cocktail Shack is the place for drinks – the vibe is tropical and the ramshackle bar made from wood salvaged from the old pier – before dinner at The Set where you can watch the chefs in the open kitchen turn out small plates of crispy lamb with anchovy mayo, crab mac and cheese and pig cheek sliders (there is a more grown-up seasonal tasting menu too). And if you like the rustic-look of the interiors, you can buy much of what you see, from the oak bedside tables to the framed artwork, online.
Book it: Doubles from £95.