The Chester Grosvenor in Chester

Bespoke’s Newest Family Member – The Chester Grosvenor

 Spring is in the air, the Easter eggs have been well and truly demolished and the lambs are leaping around the fields, so it’s the perfect time of year for Bespoke Hotels to welcome a new member to the family. Stand up, The Chester Grosvenor.

Celebrating 150 years of style and elegance this year, the former Tudor Inn has received princes from pretty much the day it opened, not to mention playing host to some of Hanoverian politics’ bawdier moments.

The Chester Grosvenor - Bespoke Hotel

Today it has made a name for itself as one of the UK’s leading hotels,  a bastion of tradition and taste in the heart of the historic city of Chester.   While that history is palpable in the architecture and gravitas of the hotel, its contemporary renovation makes it a luxurious destination for 21st century travellers. The interiors have been very cleverly choreographed, working harmoniously and sympathetically with the rich past of the location and building.

Key amongst its highlights are a decadent spa and Michelin Star restaurant ‘Simon Radley’. They also do a mean afternoon tea, which is so much more than your bog standard triangle sandwiches and scones – check out the Decadent Champagne Afternoon Tea  for more details.

If you haven’t been to Chester then now is a good time to hop in the car. The Roman city is charming, particularly in the summer time. Boutiques abound and if you go when the horse racing is at its peak then it possesses a colourful and buzzing vibe that’s hard to beat.

The Chester Grosvenor Team

The Chester Grosvenor Team

The Chester Grosvenor is positioned slap bang in the middle of all the action, which of course is exactly what you want on a city weekend getaway. (Although for the moments when you do need time out, you do of course have that aforementioned spa to explore and enjoy.

With so much available by way of hospitality, it’s very rare these days, to discover a hotel that has the detailed elegance that this one has, particularly in the middle of a city, but The Grosvenor Chester has made its mark throughout history and its reputation is well earned.

So, round of applause, wave hello, and a hearty embrace to The Chester Grosvenor, the newest member of the Bespoke Hotel family.

Hotel Gotham Manchester Boutique hotel logo

Naughty Has Never Been Nicer at this New Boutique Hotel

Christian Grey may well have been the naughtiest name on everybody’s lips last month, but those of us looking for something seriously scandalous are getting our knickers in a twist for the new boutique hotel in Manchester –  Hotel Gotham.

Having opened it’s newly-refurbished doors on 7th April 2015, the hotel team has one mission: “to make it the sexiest hotel in Europe”, and my goodness have they achieved that!

Hotel Gotham Manchester boutique hotel suite

Hotel Gotham Suite

The listed art deco building in the centre of Manchester was once a bank, and has retained a number of its original features designed by Edwin Lutyens, which have been recognised as architectural marvels. However, those same features have been offset by some spectacular innovation, such as the double height space for a feature staircase between the 6th and 7th floors as well as a rooftop bar and club.

As with any story that has real sex appeal, renovations were preceded by a healthy dose of scandal in 2010 when it was alleged that safe deposit boxes containing jewellery and master tapes from Joy Division were found on the site. Since then however, it’s been less about rock star rumours and more about five star glamour.

Hotel Gotham Manchester boutique hotel

Hotel Gotham Bedroom

Retaining its original charm, this boutique hotel still has the enviable elegance of art deco at its finest, but polished and teased into a destination fit for the 21st century. It boasts seductive slate hues, shocks of bright colour when you least expect it and quirky details scattered throughout to make you giggle with utter delight.

If Rennie Mackintosh was making a 21st century comeback, this would be his masterpiece. If Gatsby had hosted a party in Manchester he would have thrown it here. And if Jordan Belfort had really wanted to blow a fortune in style then he would have called Hotel Gotham.

Hotel Gotham Manchester boutique hotel night skySomeone recently asked us if Hotel Gotham is an interior renovation project… five floors, 60 rooms and four inner sanctum suites? Sure there’s been some interior renovations, but this isn’t the kind of magic an interior designer can create. This is about history, architecture, style, vision, architecture and location.

It isn’t just a boutique hotel, it’s a treat that’s definitely worth waiting for… and the wait is finally over!

Stonefield Weddings

Wow-Factor Weddings: What Really Matters?

On average I seem to be going to at least three weddings a year at the moment, and if I am entirely frank while each event is cause for happy celebration, the details of each often blur into one. There’s a white dress, a big building and a sizeable cake. So what separates your bog standard nuptials from something really spectacular?

Weddings

Wow-Factor

While the bride is obviously the focal point of any wedding, the setting has a lot to answer for, and some locations have considerably more wow-factor than others.

While whatever constitutes wow-factor is subjective, I don’t think many things beat a potent mix of historic architecture and beautiful surroundings, which to my mind are the things that make the Welcombe Hotel, Spa and Golf Club stand out. The proximity to Shakespearean Stratford-Upon-Avon helps with the whole romantic vibe as well – everyone loves a good storybook location don’t they?

Cotswold House Weddings 1

Cotswold House Wedding

Nibble Issues

One thing that I think can ruin even the most spectacular of weddings is a short supply of sub-par canapés. A wedding that I went to recently bypassed the nibble issue with spectacular class by laying on a full afternoon tea complete with cucumber sandwiches, mini-scones and petit-fours. That was all before the monumental spread that constituted dinner.

The upshot was a thoroughly enjoyable affair through which I successfully ate for around four hours straight. For any bride-to-be considering the allocation of her wedding budget, I urge you to prioritise those canapés and invest in a wedding venue known for its food.  For inspiration consider the likes of the Inn on the Lake in Cumbria or Cotswold House Hotel and Spa in Gloucestershire.

Weddings 1

Say it with style

Finally, location is a biggie both in terms of convenience and style. I have a particular friend who decided to have her reception at a venue that was a good 45 minutes on the train away from the church, and it didn’t offer remotely acceptable parking either. Major off-put when it comes to RSVP-ing.

So style wise, are you thinking country, city or seaside? Will people need somewhere to stay? Or if that guest list is bulging at the bridal seams, would you like to find a reason to discourage a few long-distance travellers? (I am sure you have never thought of such a thing).

For what its worth, as far as city destinations go, I am a real fan of the Prince Regent Hotel in London which combines the best of country and city thanks to its proximity to the 6,000-acre Epping Forest and, rather poetically, is a converted chapel. For something a little more rural however, Pembrokeshire’s utterly regal Lamphey Court Hotel and Spa is pretty hard to beat for upmarket elegance, spectacular grounds and the sense that you are lord and lady of the manor for the day.

So there you go, that’s my ten pence worth on the matter – huge congratulations and I look forward to getting my invite. Here’s to a year of memorable nuptials and ample canapés!

Chic Hotels La Suite West

Crusts On or Crusts Off at Tea Time at Chic Hotels?

The importance of afternoon tea…

There has to be more than cream to afternoon tea at chic hotels to make it the popular phenomenon that it is. It doesn’t seem to matter where you’re from or how old you are, the prospect of an extra meal between lunch and dinner featuring impossibly small sandwiches and disproportionately large scones, is universal.

Chic hotels The Newton, Nairn

The Newton, Nairn

I think one of the reasons for it, is the wide possibilities for interpretation and innovation that this classic British institution allows even in modern chic hotels. Not to mention regional traditions that always provide healthy heated debate. Do you put the cream on first, or the jam? It is a question that has divided families and friends.

Whatever your cakey preference, it may well dictate the destination that you choose. After all, your afternoon tea style says a lot about your personality as well as that of those providing it. At the classically beautiful Stonefield Castle in Scotland a traditional approach of sandwiches and scones is exactly what you are looking for with your view of the loch.

Chic Hotels Risley Hall

Risley Hall Hotel

 

Others who do great justice to the customary variation on afternoon tea, and even throw in a log fire for good measure include the Lake District’s Inn on the Lake, and Cotswold House Hotel in Gloucestershire. At both hotels you will also obviously benefit from the hearty appetite generated from a bracing walk in the local area – it’s fine, all those hills nullify any calories you may or may not have been concerned about.

To take ‘chic’ to a whole new level however, you can always rely on Anouska Hempel to create great chic hotels. The interior designer who is famed for her high fashion flair and award-winning sense of luxury would no doubt be disappointed with anything less exquisite from the food that’s served on the carefully chosen plates. So when it comes to La Suite West in London, the 100% vegan, three course afternoon tea is just what Anna Wintour ordered, right down to the coconut cream and fresh strawberries. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

Perhaps in the 50 Shades world in which we live however, the best is yet to come. The upcoming opening of Hotel Gotham in Manchester in April is highly anticipated for its naughty-but-nice humour and serious sex appeal… just imagine what they might be doing with the raspberry jam and the oozing black chocolate Gotham Kirsch cake!?