A Leaf Out Of Our Book

It doesn’t matter how many Kindles and iPads there are in the world, there is something completely unique and special about sitting down with a paper book and experiencing the time, place and feelings conveyed from the pages. Certainly there’s nothing quite like the feeling conveyed in A Solitary Confinement, written by Bespoke Hotel’s Robin Sheppard.

An autobiographical account of being struck down with Guillaine-Barre Syndrome (GBS), the book shows Robin’s characteristically lyrical way of speaking and writing, making the pages a pleasure to turn despite the ordeal within them.

Cotswold House Hotel

“I wanted to shout… ‘I’m leaving, cheerio, tata!’ I passed out.” He writes as he speaks, candidly about the autoimmune disease that saw his own body attack itself. Factually we are told that GBS manifests as numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes before spreading as a terrifying weakness through the limbs and leading to paralysis of those areas (which can include the respiratory system). One in 20 people who get it will die from it, and for those who don’t recovery can take anything from two weeks to six months.

What Robin brings to the GBS story however, without fuss or hyperbole, are the feelings and thoughts that go with such a horrendous experience. The effect that it had on both him and his family is made all the more evident by the knowledge that the book was a collaborative effort with the cover designed by Robin’s youngest son, Charlie.

Ultimately the book does what all books should do – it gives you experiences and understandings that you couldn’t get in any other way, or at least one hopes that you don’t in this case. Much like the Diving Bell and the Butterfly, this is something that could happen to anybody at just about any time, so it is fitting that the eloquent tone of voice and self-deprecating wit pinpoint an unimaginable feeling in a way that all of us can relate to.

Importantly, this book aims to use the trauma it conveys and make a difference. It’s about awareness, knowledge and making a practical as well as emotional impact. As such, all proceeds are going to the GBS/CIDP Foundation and the charity GAIN, who offer support and information to those with the disease.

If one moment can change a man’s life, then perhaps a book can make a difference as well.

http://www.guillain-barre.co.uk/links.php

 

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Form and Function: The Art Of The Modern Boutique Hotel

If modern art is divisive then there are few words for the reaction that modern architecture can inspire because by anyone’s standards, it’s an exciting time for art and design.

Whether you love or hate the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Renzo Piano, post-war the collaborations between form and function have scaled new heights and produced some of the most creative and important structures of the modern age.

Bespoke Hotels - Andersen Boutique Hotel

Andersen Boutique Hotel Copenhagen

They have also inspired generations of people in their field, and as a result the line between art and architecture has become blurred, interior and exterior have become fluid, and surely the result is some of the most thrilling and democratic art around, because whether you are on the outside looking in or the inside looking out, it’s art that we can all interactive with and enjoy.

Nowhere has this become more evident or important than the hotel industry, especially in the boutique hotel sector. As a place defined by standards, service and experience, design has taken precedent as the mood influencer, the holiday inspiration and the purveyor of interesting social media content. After all, few things make for a better Instagram photo than a beautifully orchestrated library, a cantilevered swimming pool overlooking a city or carefully chosen textiles hinting at an offbeat sense of humour.

Bespoke Hotels - Andersen Boutique Hotel Lobby

Andersen Boutique Hotel Lobby

Perhaps one of the best examples of contemporary design and interesting architecture is the Andersen Boutique Hotel in Copenhagen. Denmark’s capital city is a hub of character, quirks and contemporary intrigue, so it’s fitting that the hotel follows suit.

This boutique hotel is decorated with textiles and wallpapers from the Designers Guild and boldly showcases a vibrant colour scheme. Everything from the lighting to the carefully selected magazines has been choreographed to fit and enhance the urban buzz and inspiring atmosphere that surrounds it.

Meanwhile the likes of our newly opened boutique hotel – Gotham Hotel in Manchester fuse a historic exterior with the sleekest and sexiest of interiors, to prove that really great design is a fluid, evolving, ongoing process that embraces both the past and the future in a way that we can enjoy it in the present.

If you look at it that way, where we are now with modern design isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s an incredibly exciting experience for us all and I can’t help but wonder where it will take us next…

Bespoke Hotels - Columba Inverness

Tales From The Riverbank: Stories of Summer Picnics

Humble summer picnics are chief amongst the most classic of summer thrills, or not so humble as the case may be – I know some master picnickers who have extremely elaborate tastes, honed at the likes of Henley and Glyndebourne.

Nonetheless, from cheese and tomato sandwiches and a bag of crisps, to lashings of lemonade and countryside adventures reminiscent of The Famous Five, having summer picnics are joyous occasions evocative of childhood memories, classic literature and grass-stained shorts.

Cotswold Garden summer picnics

Cotswold Garden

I think everyone has his or her perfect childhood picnic memory (or at least I hope they do). For me it was always those on the beach, which invariably resulted in my egg mayonnaise having a sand accompaniment, and melting ice creams dribbling halfway down sticky fingers and chubby arms.

I also have a distinct memory of sharing half my lunch with a duck on one occasion, and in more recent years have thoroughly enjoyed overeating strawberries that have gone sugary in the heat, not to mention falling asleep with my book on my face.

Happily, alfresco dining is supported by health experts who make wonderful claims about the benefits of eating outside. Apparently it stimulates the appetite and helps your digestive system and metabolism to function more effectively. All of that’s good to know but let’s be honest, the real reason this quintessentially English pastime has remained so popular is because the British countryside (and city parks) are simply beautiful.

Summer picnics near Columba Inverness

Columba Inverness

From coast to country we are blessed with a rich abundance of verdant landscapes, so it would be churlish not to eat lunch on a rug on the floor, play the games we haven’t played since we were children, and wonder if we can find the very same rabbit hole through which Alice travelled to Wonderland or spot the cast from The Wind in the Willows pottering along between the reeds on grassy riverbanks like those at the Columba Hotel.

Incidentally, that particular bespoke secret was recently voted one of the UK’s top 10 riverside breaks, in the Daily Mail, and is perched on the banks of the River Ness. In short, it is the type of place that summer picnics were made for and it’s hard to imagine anything finer.

Ultimately, summer picnics are the stuff that really good memories (and stories) are made of. The question is; are you going to take Enid Blyton or Lewis Carroll with you?

Hotel Gotham Logo

Everyone’s talking about Hotel Gotham

Can you feel it? The buzz, the palpable hum of excitement? I am not hiding my excitement about the opening of Hotel Gotham, Manchester’s newest five star hotel, at all well. But I’m not the only one.

Hotel Gotham Manchester Bedroom

Hotel Gotham Manchester Bedroom

In the weeks preceding the hotel’s opening last month, local and national press have been equally effervescent about it, with its 1930s interiors that have brought the 80 year old building and former bank back to life. Manchester Evening News enthused over the “swanky private members bar”, “stunning views across the city” and the “playful nods to that banking past” with gold ingot toiletry displays and moneybag-style laundry bags.

Hotel Gotham Manchester Bar

Hotel Gotham Manchester Bar

Much love has also been expressed for the video that’s shown to guests at the Hotel Gotham, which gives Manchester a New York twist. It shows the city’s glamorous side and features landmarks such as the central library, the big wheel and China Town, all epitomizing the hotel’s tagline “Manhattan comes to Manchester”.

Manchester is seeing an increasing number of people visiting for weekend getaways, exploring all the history and culture it has to offer, and as the doors swung open at Hotel Gotham, it can now claim its title as the second five star hotel in the city, although no other can stake a claim to the accolade of ‘Europe’s sexiest hotel’. Perhaps if they too channeled their inner Gatsby then they would get that sensual feeling. Hotel Gotham Manchester

While we have waxed lyrical about the hotel’s history and the narrative surrounding it however, it is the service unlike any other that’s really getting our hearts pumping. Only guests with a reservation either at the hotel or in the restaurant are allowed in because the name of the game here is privacy and luxury.

Rooms range from £150 per night to £1,000 per night for an inner sanctum room, especially good for those with a hidden desire to be Batman and have an utterly clandestine break. On which note, the hotel’s name does come from the comic book antihero’s home town and a nod to his secretive nature comes in the form of bat shaped ‘do not disturb’ signs on the bedroom doors.

Hotel Gotham Bedroom

Hotel Gotham Bedroom

Of course there’s more to talk about, and no doubt we will, but for now the anticipation is over and it’s time to celebrate a summer with serious sex appeal…

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/hotel-gotham-exclusive-first-look-8925727

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/manc-hattan-hotel-gotham-transforms-manchester-8937011