Where to stay in London
What's so special
London’s Olympic year has seen a raft of new hotels opening to cater for the influx of sporting enthusiasts. The most luxurious is the Bulgari in Knightsbridge. Situated close to the designer shopping mecca of Sloane Street, it’s aimed at people with money to burn.
How they rate it
“Impressive...but not to all tastes,” says Nigel Tisdall in The Daily Telegraph. “Don’t be seduced by the fashionista associations – the Bulgari is by no means girlie, funky or zesty.” Its six-storey basement contains a “ballroom, 47-seat cinema, a hi-tech gym and a splendid 25-metre swimming pool decorated with glittering green and gold mosaics”. The bedrooms are “subdued and cosseting. Sumptuous beds, Italian linen, marbled bathrooms and triple-glazing create an inviting air of luxury cocoon”. Bulgari toiletries (among the best in the business) and a custom-built minibar resembling a luxurious traveller’s trunk “add a welcome individuality to an ambience”.
The restaurant serves contemporary Italian cuisine. Try spaghetti al pomodoro with goat’s cheese and lemon peel.
Double rooms start from £600, room only. Visit www.bulgarihotels.com, or call 020-7151 1010.
What's so special
The former Sheraton hotel in Knightsbridge, a stone’s throw from Sloane Street, has been transformed into the first of the super-stylish Thompson hotels outside North America. If you are looking for a Manhattan-style pad, this is the hotel for you.
How they rate it
“My room, a Double Premium, is at the lower end of the class system, the real test,” says Sally Shalam in The Guardian. But it delivers. “It’s oh so quiet, in every sense. It maximises light from an oriel window filled by a purple velvet sofa… semi-obscured by a metal bead curtain over smoked glass, a shower turns into a re-enactment of the opening sequence from Tales of the Unexpected.” Finally, “the loo is separated from the bedroom by two full doors – proof that a woman has masterminded this design”. In the public areas “leather, wood and velvet abetted by a rear wall of bookshelves, create a private club-vibe, exposed brick lending a hint of New York loft”.
The hotel restaurant, Hix, is excellent. Dishes include Portland crab rosti and grilled poussin with a tabbouleh of pomegranate.
A double room costs from £250, room only. The double premium rooms cost from £349. For more information, go to: www.thompsonhotels.com, or call 020-7858 0100.
British castle stays
Play king of the castle with a stay at one of these three fortresses, as rounded up by Grace Tebbutt in The Independent.
Roch Castle in Wales (pictured) is a “beautifully restored Norman castle high above Pembrokeshire Coast National Park”. The castle has been transformed into a “five-star holiday let”, with six bedrooms. “Views are of the Irish Sea, St David’s peninsula and wild Welsh countryside.” A private chef is on hand to rustle up a special evening meal, while the house manager “is on hand for breakfast”. Weekly rentals start from £4,000 including breakfast – sleeps 12 (Retreatsgroup.com).
“One of Scotland’s loveliest lochs is the setting for Stonefield Castle.” The 19th-century building stands on the Kintyre Peninsula, “with spectacular views of Loch Fyne and acres of private woodland”. It’s the ideal spot for “bracing walks around the West Coast, rounded off with warming whisky and plates of local smoked salmon and oysters”. Inside it has wood-panelled walls and period furnishings. Doubles start from £190, B&B (Stonefieldcastleargyll.co.uk).
Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire was built in the 16th century and has “welcomed Henry VIII (who had Thornbury’s architect... executed) and Queen Mary.” It is now part of the Luxury Family Hotels portfolio and its “coats of arms [and] carved ceilings” are available for everyone to enjoy. Doubles from £190, including breakfast (Thornburycastle.co.uk).