Once lockdown lifts and it is safe to visit, a stylish city break could be just what you need to reignite your passion for travel and curiosity. Revivify with more zest and vibrancy than ever before with an unforgettable luxury stay in one of these exciting new UK hotels – conveniently located in the heart of the city.
The Mayfair Townhouse, London’s Mayfair
Bridging the gap between West End’s ritzy and corporate hotels, the Townhouse redefines what it means to be a London hotel. Curious, engaging, witty – and dandy. Think: Oscar Wilde meets Alice in Wonderland.
Launched from the people who brought you Cliveden House and Chewton Glen (Iconic Luxury Hotels), The Mayfair Townhouse is a high-end neighbourhood hotel bridging the gap between ritzy high-end lavish hotels and the corporate enterprise properties that stand in Mayfair. Moments of surprise await around every corner of the Grade-II listed Georgian buildings that line Half Moon Street – once the setting for Oscar Wilde’s most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest. Goddard Littlefair has helmed an authentic, quick-witted design with “Dandy” as the cornerstone playful theme. The fox, the hotel’s mischievous motif, is woven throughout the hotel, from the art collection showcasing a series of fox images, to intricate design elements throughout. Art plays a pivotal role in the design, with Minda Dowling, a leading art specialist, curating unique and unusual pieces. Take Clarita Brinkerhoff’s peacock sculpture for instance – the piece sits at 67 inches high and is made out of 25,000 Swarovski crystals. The aptly named Dandy Bar is the heart and soul of the Townhouse; a theatrical, dimly lit atmosphere that creates a place to see and be seen. Say hello to Head Concierge Dianna Beran, formerly from Belmond Cadogan Hotel. Dianna is one of the very few female concierges in the world to hold the title of Les Clefs d’Or!
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Book a mixology experience with Pierpaolo Monaco and pre-supper drinks in The Dandy Bar. Order The Mayfair Dandy – an avant-garde take on the classic Dandy cocktail once enjoyed by hedonists of the area.
Room rates priced from £252 per night.
The Graduate Hotels, Oxford and Cambridge
The Graduate Hotels are a totally new concept, making the grade and turning heads with their collection of hotels residing in the most dynamic university towns across the country. This unique modern approach to hospitality has been a stylish hit in the US with over 30 hotels including Graduate State College, Pennsylvania and Graduate Berkeley, California. They are now launching in the UK – and yes, you’ve guessed it, first to open their doors are Graduate Oxford (keeping the prestigious Randolph name) and Graduate Cambridge. Two existing properties are being renovated to make way; The Doubletree by Hilton, Cambridge City and the Macdonald Randolph Hotel in Oxford. Not at university?! It’s OK, you don’t have to be a student, or even a uni-grad to stay at these hotels – although I imagine many will be the parents of, given the close proximity and geographical locations. The idea of these individual hotels is that each celebrates and commemorates the youthful optimism of school days while cultivating a bright community spirit. The cultural side with the heritage and history of each unique town is another desirable plus point – with warm, friendly and hip staff available to guide you in and around town so that you feel like a local, at home again – even if it’s your first time in town. The hotels are luxurious too, with five-star touches, super comfy beds and stylish bars and restaurants.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Be smart by doing your homework so that you make the most of exploring the city while you’re there! For example, in Oxford they have just opened The Story Museum where you can step inside iconic scenes lifted from the pages of children’s books, while further east, brand-new plant-based café Thrive on Norfolk Street, is breathing new life into Cambridge.
The Londoner, London’s Leicester Square
The Londoner could be described more as an ‘urban resort’ than a ‘city hotel’ spanning across 16 storeys, the hotel features a whopping 350 guest rooms, suites and tower penthouse with panoramic views! Yet there’s much more to this sophisticated Leicester Square playground than just bedrooms, to include two private screening rooms, an expansive ballroom, gym and wellness centre, hair and nail salon, barber shop and a mix of six concept eateries – including bars and a tavern, alfresco dining on the ground floor and a contemporary Japanese lounge bar with a rooftop terrace and fire pit. As you enter the lobby you will first notice the hotel’s signature restaurant – a cosy meeting spot in the day turn vibrant dinner spot in the evening. There’s a tavern on the ground floor with specially curated drinks menu and daily unplugged music performances. Prefer some peace and quiet? Make your way to the ‘hotel guests only’ area on the first floor. They promised London a new urban oasis, a landmark and ultimate city destination – and they’ve delivered.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Explore the Neighbourhood – with the West End and Piccadilly Line on the doorstep, Leicester Square is a cornerstone of the London experience. Famous landmarks rise beside unrivalled shopping; cobbled streets are lined with West End theatres and world-class restaurants. There are green spaces and intimate places. Take your pick. Whichever direction you decide to walk, there is something waiting to be explored. Then discover new heights – head to the rooftop, a new destination for discerning Londoners, with open air firepit seating.
Prices from £469 per person, per night
The Queens Hotel, Leeds
The iconic Queens Hotel Leeds is undergoing a £16million refurbishment, with building work already underway the plan is for the new-look to be officially unveiled this summer. Located in the very heart of Leeds city centre the hotel which describes itself as ‘a destination with a difference’ is to be an important boost to the city’s hospitality industry, especially important in these challenging times of a global pandemic. Celebrating over 80 years in the city, the modernised hotel will not only pay homage to its rich and iconic history but most importantly, it will play to the ‘new way’ people are now using exciting city-centre hotel spaces. Although the hotel will be open for business from March, renovation of all bedrooms, as well as adding an additional 16, bringing the room total to 232 will be an on-going process. Full restoration of the hotel reception’s barrel-vaulted ceiling and original timber floors will provide a showstopping ground floor, whilst the iconic listed red passenger lifts will be lovingly renovated and brought into the 21st century with modernised functionality. As a nod to the hotel’s glamorous history, a stunning selection of new chandeliers and pendant hanging lights will feature in the public areas with the beautiful existing art deco style lighting throughout the hotel. Feeling the hunger for it yet? You will be pleased to hear food and beverage is set to be one of the centrepieces of this refurbishment too. And that’s not all – as the night sets in, the hotel promises to offer one of the best cocktail and dining experience in Leeds, with a vibrant wine bar, outdoor terrace that spills out into the heart of the City, extensive coffee space and central restaurant offering the likes of afternoon tea and a la carte options.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Need a holiday with some time and space to keep on top of work? Pack your laptop – you can do it here! Upgrading the hotel and bedrooms is just one part of the journey. There are plans for an exciting ‘social hub’ at the heart of the hotel, a multitude of communal areas, and boutique check-in area, designed to create a ‘working from home’ community environment.
Grand Hotel Birmingham
The eagerly awaited reopening of The Grand Hotel will bring 185 bedrooms, a destination restaurant and a feature terrace to Birmingham’s prestigious Colmore Row, in the heart of the city. Beautifully restored and bursting with ”wow factor” there are grand double rooms, a fabulous, two-bedroom penthouse apartment, restaurants, bars, and a Louis XIV-style Grand Ballroom perfect for hosting some of Birmingham’s most glamorous occasions with double-height windows, a semi-private balcony, and original art deco chandeliers, plus many other multi-function board/theatre rooms. Book a table for cocktails or afternoon tea in Madeleine or their brand-new restaurant on Barwick Street (due to open soon).
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Book the Penthouse suite -This jaw-dropping, duplex suite comes with its own bar, open-plan dining and living room, table football, walk-in closet, and luxurious marble bathroom.
Prices from £105 per room, per night
Artist Residence Bristol
Arty micro chain Artist Residence is set to open its fifth hotel in a former boot factory in Bristol’s Portland Square, nestled between St Pauls and the Cabot Circus shopping centre in the heart of the city. An eclectic mix of art and vintage, the new venue includes 28 quirky bedrooms alongside a café, bar and events space. Located in the heart of the creative St Pauls community just minutes from Bristol’s city centre and Stokes Croft the hotel is a neighbourhood social space, serving simple, honest food and drink all day, every day. Your home from home in the heart of Bristol, with comfy beds, powerful rainfall showers and an eclectic mix of industrial, vintage and bohemian style. The Clubhouse is the kind of place you’d like on our doorstep – a buzzing neighbourhood hangout for night or day, work or play. With a relaxed atmosphere, a casual menu for any occasion and a programme of cultural events, this will be a fun and friendly hub for both the local community and our guests alike.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Make it arty! Book the bohemian Artist Suite – it features original Georgian cornicing, a comfy living space, super king size bed, open bathroom with free-standing roll-top bathtub and powerful rainfall shower with views over the leafy Portland Square. While in town you might even enjoy a Banksy Tour, the world-famous artist was once just another kid on the streets of Bristol with a can of spray paint in his hands. As a result, some of his earliest work is hidden around the city, and spotting it is an absolute must for fans of his work.
From the same hip hotel group to launch the The Ned, NoMad London is the new kid in town, and every bit as exciting. It takes residence inside the historic, grade II-listed building famously known as The Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Station. A collaboration with New York-based interior design studio Roman and Williams, the transformation of the storied 19th century building draws inspiration from its history and location in Covent Garden, as well as exploring the artistic and cultural connection between London and New York. The hotel is the first international outpost for The NoMad Hotel brand (The original NoMad launched in New York and there are now two more in Los Angeles and Las Vegas) is located opposite the Royal Opera House. With 91 keys, the property will offer a culture of gracious hospitality combined with understated elegance and comfort. The hotel’s all-day dining space will be housed in its light filled atrium and focus on cuisine rooted in NoMad’s classic approach. In addition to the main restaurant, Executive Chef Ian Coogan will also oversee Side Hustle, serving a shared plates menu inspired by his Mexican heritage; paired with a curated, agave-based spirits program. Side Hustle will evoke the comfort of a pub-like environment paired with the refinement of NoMad’s signature style. The interiors depict a refined Bohemian style, reflecting the origins of the building combining the flavours and colours native to Mexico. The Library is a place for guests to unwind, offering respite from the city any time of day, serving coffee, snacks, or even a carafe of wine.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Can’t go yourself? Treat someone special with a NoMad London gift certificate. The recipient can use the value (vouchers range from £50 – £1000) for hotel stays and dining in any of the hotel’s restaurants and bars. Vouchers are available to order now and are redeemable once the hotel has opened, if as planned this will be April 2021. You might even choose to add a Wellness experience to their stay, a 60-minute deep tissue massage in room, an antioxidant-fuelled smoothie to follow, and a healthy breakfast the following morning to be enjoyed in bed (or in the Atrium restaurant)! Priced from £125
Prices from £595 per room, per night
Harrison Chambers of Distinction, Belfast
Looking to add a little more sass to your staycation? Having hosted scoundrels and scholars since 1879, this bohemian bolthole has been designed for the culturally curious traveller. The Harrison Chambers of Distinction inhabits two lovingly restored landmark Victorian merchants’ residences right in the heart of Belfast’s theatre and museum quarter.
Owner and Belfast local, Melanie Harrison has expertly woven past and present throughout the hotel into an individual celebration of her city like no other. Each of the 16 rooms is named after creatives with links to Belfast, such as Jonathon Swift, CS Lewis, Percy French and Samuel Beckett and the curated design of each chamber pays homage to their namesake with eccentric curios, local craftsmanship and quirky surprises around every corner.
Everything about The Harrison celebrates what is great about Belfast – carpets from the makers of the ill-fated Titanic’s carpets, the railings from the Ebrington barracks dating to 1840, floorboards from the nearby Royal Victoria hospital with a few wallpapers hand designed by local designer Grainne Maher. The welcome addition of the spa will help you to relax unwind during their stay.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Book the Ruby Murray Room – it’s divine! Antique furniture, stunning four poster bed and bathtub in a Victorian heritage building.
Room types range from the smaller Bohemian to the spacious and luxurious Aristocrat from £80 – £150 per night.
The Townhouse, Bath
For the ultimate city break you would be hard pushed than to find a better place to stay than at the new Townhouse at the Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel. The TV series Bridgerton had us swooning over the ravishing city of Bath, used as a location, and now there’s this. Offering the best of both worlds – ultra luxurious self-catering for up to five people, plus the hotel next door for dining out or using the spa. The real wow factor facility here, however, is private access to the Cross Bath. This sacred open-air bath taps in to the city’s thermal waters and beats a hot tub any day!
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Tour No 1 Royal Crescent – it perfectly replicates a Georgian era interior (and the exterior starred as the Featherington’s home in Bridgerton!). Plus, plan a visit to the Roman Baths to see unseen parts of the Roman Baths, including a Roman sauna, open to visitors for the first time – and the new Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein attraction. Read more about it in our new attractions and days article here.
Prices start from £183 per night.
The Gantry, London’s Stratford
Launching in Stratford in early summer, a year later than originally planned, The Gantry will bring together under one roof a design hotel, artisan food market, restaurants and cocktail bars, in what is London’s fastest developing creative and cultural community. Born out of the desire to create a sustainable business that enriches the local community whilst delivering an exceptional experience for its guests, The Gantry is setting a new template for the hospitality industry. Collaborating with local producers, artists, brands and independent London restaurateurs, The Gantry is a single urban resort offering a fully integrated eating, drinking, travel and social destination for East Londoners and international visitors alike. With a silhouette inspired by New York’s famous Flat Iron building, The Gantry’s design is influenced by industrial Victorian East London and Stratford’s historical role in the city’s train building industry. With a prime position directly in front of Stratford International station, just 6 minutes from Kings Cross.
Prices start from £173 per night.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Be ready to party and enjoy the high life! Situated on the 18th floor with floor to ceiling windows, The Gantry will also boast the highest rooftop bar in East London, offering a truly iconic sunset across the capital when the bar and outdoor terraces come alive with live music and DJs.
Gleneagles Townhouse, Edinburgh
From countryside flair to life on the square, Gleneagles is coming to Edinburgh in Autumn 2021. The iconic sporting and country estate is launching its first ever city outpost at 37-39 St Andrew Square, originally home to the British Linen Company which later became the Bank of Scotland. With outstanding architectural features designed by notable architects and sculptors such as David Bryce & Alexander Handyside Ritchie, this iconic building is being reimagined to become ‘Gleneagles Townhouse’. Presenting the perfect urban gateway, Gleneagles Townhouse will have 33 bedrooms, each uniquely designed to imbue a sense of understated luxury with an appreciative nod to the heritage of the building, a vibrant all-day restaurant perfect for breakfasts, long lazy lunches and spirited dinners, and two striking bars, including a rooftop terrace where guests will enjoy extraordinary views over the city, previously only held by the rooftop statues!
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Get ready to mingle – Gleneagles Townhouse will also be home to their members club, a community with a passion for exchanging ideas, discovering new obsessions, collaborating together and simply having fun, with access to exclusive private spaces and on-site gym and wellness.
Jessica Way is an award-winning travel journalist, Editor of British Travel Journal and Dream Escape Magazine. She spends most of her time visiting extraordinary cityscapes, countryside and coastlines across the British Isles