Smith Travel BlogTravel tales and hotel news from the boutique hotel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith

Top 10 hotel pools: the Smith Awards shortlist

Posted by Kate Weir on October 19th, 2014

Top 10 best hotel pools | Six Senses Yao Noi, Phang Nga, ThailandWe asked you to vote for the hotel pools that won your heart, for the Smith Hotel Awards 2014, and you dived right in… We can now commence the drum roll to announce your top 10 spots to soak – and maybe sneak a skinny-dipping session – in, with the shortlist for our new category, Best Hotel Pool. So, read on to find photogenic poolsides, infinity edges overlooking gasp-eliciting views and waterside waiters who are quick on the draw…


Top 10 best hotel pools | Capella SingaporeFoster + Partners – the architectural genies behind the ‘Gherkin’ – conjured up Capella Singapore’s infinity-edged pools, which cascade over three tiers. Set on peaceful Sentosa Island, overlooking the South China Sea, the pools are lounger-lined and tree-shaded.


Top 10 best hotel pools | Six Senses Yao NoiThis castaway-chic stay’s pool overlooks the limestone pinnacles of Phang Nga bay; dip in and you’ll feel as though you’re about to swim off the edge. Gaze out at craggy islands jutting from the ocean in between laps, or from a pagoda-shaded day-bed.


Top 10 best hotel pools, Smith Hotel Awards 2014 | The SarojinLined with aquamarine tiles and surrounded by tropical greenery, this gasp-eliciting pool has Thai pavilion islands with white curtains, removable roofs, and sunloungers, for blissful basking à deux. After sundown, lanterns illuminate the fairy-tale setting.


Top 10 hotel pools | ClivedenThis hidden heated pool is set in the arbour that ignited the Profumo affair, it’s flanked by stone cherubim, pretty pavilions and sunloungers, and waiters happily whisk drinks and snacks to guests. Elegant and aristocratic, with hint of scandal – it’s a true Smith classic.


Top 10 best hotel pools | Borgo Santo PietroEchoing the serpentine wend of the Merse river nearby, the hotel‘s free-form freshwater infinity pool blends into its landscaped surrounds. Sunloungers and parasols surround this all-natural pool, and its bar allows sun-soaked lazing with a glass of wine.


Top 10 best hotel pools | Cap Estel Cap Estel’s saltwater infinity pool cleaves into the Ligurian, luring sunbathers away from the hotel’s private beach. Open from May until mid-October, with white sunloungers and an inlaid Jacuzzi, there’s no better spot to watch gazillionaires’ yachts drift by.


Top 10 hotel pools | AmankilaTiered, slate-lined infinity pools cascade down the side of this cliffside sanctuary, which overlooks the Lombok Strait. It’s a fashion-shoot favourite, with palm-leaf-shaped parasols and thatched balé pavilions, and après-swim Bali-style afternoon tea is served.


Top 10 best hotel pools | Monastero Santa RosaInfinity pools are rarely more stunning than this heated high-rise. Set on a clifftop with jaw-dropping views, it resembles a length of shoreline melting into the azure Amalfi horizon. Its beach-like edge has panoramic views, stretching from Ravello to Positano.


Top 10 best hotel pools | PerivolasAn elegant foil to the hotel’s Gaudí-contoured villas, the infinity pool has heart-stoppingly beautiful caldera views and appears to flow straight into the Aegean. Surrounded by terraced gardens, it’s a devastatingly romantic setting to watch Oia’s sunsets.


Top 10 best hotel pools | Eagles NestThe Presidential Villa’s 25-metre heated lap pool is our most wanted; holding its own against the glittering turquoise Bay of Islands, yet blending seamlessly into the headland. Day-beds and lanterns add a dash of romance too.

If you’re eager to find out the Smith Hotel Awards winners, all will be revealed on 7 November 2014. In the meantime, why not search for a good spot to show off your bikini (or board shorts) in our hotels with pools collection, or find retreats with private pools

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Palazzo Margherita, Basilicata: hotel of the week

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on October 17th, 2014

Well, would you look at these magical new photos we’ve just received of Basilicatan wonderland Palazzo Margherita, Francis Ford Coppola’s rareified Baroque bolthole… Can’t you just picture yourself wandering serenely at sunset through that fern-edged courtyard? We can, and we think you look magnificent.

Palazzo Margherita hotel in Basilicata, Italy

Style Don-worthy decadence
Setting Coppola’s ancestral comune

Why this week? Why not? As winter draws ever nearer, there are few finer spots to catch the last rays of autumn sun than the hills of beauteous Basilicata. And, when night falls, you’ll feast on fantastic fare: food’s serious business in Italy, of course, so make the most of the focus on fine gastronomy with a candlelit dinner in your palatial home-from-home’s historic gardens. The next day, learn to bake pizza like a local (margherita, perhaps?): our exclusive foodie offer is open till the end of the month.

Palazzo Margherita hotel in Basilicata, Italy Palazzo Margherita hotel in BasilicataFrancis Ford Coppola's Palazzo Margherita hotel in ItalyOur favourite bits Take a flower-scented dip in the outdoor pool hidden at the foot of the hotel’s sprawling gardens. There’s a bar close by the secluded swimming area, so you can kick back on a day-bed with a cocktail while gazing out over the winding fruit tree-lined pathways and gently swaying palms. As for where to sleep, Suite Four was designed by Sofia Coppola (Francis’ daughter and acclaimed director) and has a spacious bathroom with a hammam and chromatherapy shower. The decor is lavish yet tasteful, with pastel-shaded frescoes, chevron floor tiles, lacy wall friezes and a small garden-view terrace. And if Mr Smith feels like his style needs an upgrade to fit in among the finery, he can call on the services of top tailor Angelo Inglese, who regularly visits the palazzo to personalise picks from his collection to fit stylish guests.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘We roll off the bar stools and into our suite. Mr Smith immediately sets to work fathoming the Loewe telly with the expertise of a Bletchley Park code breaker, and locates a lengthy list of movies – mainly Italian classics – which has been personally curated by Coppola. The bed is quite spectacularly large, although in this room it only just looks big enough. ‘I wonder if there’s a severed horse’s head in there?’ I remark wittily, but the Godfather reference is lost on Mr Smith. Having discovered the complimentary Santa Maria Novella toiletries, I have a soak in the roll-top Devon & Devon bathtub. Mr Smith decides to road test the shower, which is more sit-in than walk-in, with a Silvestrin-inspired marble bench.’ Read interiors whiz Faye Toogood’s full anonymous Palazzo Margherita hotel review…

Explore our collection of hotels in Italy or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers.

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Travel with #SmithTaste and win Smith vouchers!

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on October 17th, 2014

#smithtaste food photography competition

We love food – eating it, cooking it… even just looking at pictures of it.

And now we’d like to see your best food pictures: post ‘em on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and add the tag #SmithTaste from now till Friday, 24 October. Our favourite foodie snap will win a £250/$400 voucher to use at any of the 950+ hotels in our global collection.

Hungry for inspiration? Download the new Great Global Chefs iPad app from Great British Chefs, and explore our handy Travelling with Taste feature for more delicious dishes worldwide.

#smithtaste food photography competition

Made a mouthwatering meal? Snap it, post it, tag it. Dined on something delicious? Ditto. (And if it’s at a Smith hotel, even better!)

The winning shot will be chosen by Great British Chefs’ founder and CEO Ollie Lloyd, and will be posted right here along with the tastiest runners-up in all their appetite-whetting glory on Tuesday, 28 October.

Bon appétit!

Photos by Lucy Fennings, Juliet Kinsman and Rachel Juarez-Carr

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Top 10 best-dressed boutique hotels

Posted by Lucy Fennings on October 16th, 2014

The votes are in! If you’re one of the 22,000 travel-loving hotel fans who responded to our Smith Hotel Awards 2014 survey, you’ll no doubt be eager to learn which boutique boltholes and stylish weekend stays made it into the top 10 shortlists. Well, wait no longer – we can now reveal the hotels you chose to champion – kicking off with the world’s most stylish hotel interiors.

We polled the public on their favourite design hotels (check out the Best-Dressed Hotel category criteria and nominees here) to find out which boutique beauty wowed with its worldly decor: here are the 10 that received the most votes, and that are currently causing heated discussion among our panel of expert judges…

Best hotel design: Ace Hotel London Shoreditch


Design highs Universal Design Studio’s structural design savvy and street-level façade • Max Lamb bar design; Philippe Malouin lighting • Honey-coloured wood-panelled Hoi Polloi restaurant

Ace Hotel group’s instantly identifiable brand of retro flavour exported to the British capital’s coolest postcode: what’s not to love? The decor breakdown reads like a Shoreditch hipster’s homeware wish-list (Photobooth? Check. Vintage turntables? Of course), the design details are largely local collaborations, and it’s all delivered at sanity-preserving prices. Staff sport John Smedley and Hancock, a host of British designers have contributed details large (Max Lamb’s bar) and small (Ally Capellino’s coin trays), and there’s a calendar of music events in the basement venue.

Best hotel design: riad El Fenn, MarrakechEL FENN, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

Design highs  Incredible modern art collection • Lush courtyard garden • Traditional craftsmanship: camel-leather flooring, Berber rugs, intricate tile work Considered design; every creature comfort

A patchwork labour of love incorporating the restoration of a derelict riad, a creative’s dream of an art collection and a bohemian sophisticate’s colour palette, El Fenn flies the flag for bold and beautiful interiors. Traditional tadelakt and carved cedarwood in eye-popping hues form the backdrop for the owners’ scintillating fine-art stash. With sculpture, paintings and photography by David Shrigley, Bridget Riley, Frances Upritchard, Antony Gormley, Batoui S’Himi and William Kentridge to look at, it’s a wonder any of the delightful decor gets a look-in…

Best hotel design: Saffire, Australia


Design highs  A back-to-nature design manifesto, brilliantly executed • Bespoke eco-lighting; special commissions include a collaborative installation by Hobart sculptor Judith Abell and Futago • Woven textiles featuring Freycinet-found fauna

Set in one of Tasmania’s most spectacular bays, Saffire has a lot to compete with; but the genius of its architecture and interiors is that they perfectly frame, complement and riff on their heart-stopping surroundings. Outside, Circa architects’ curvilinear structures take the form of a soft-skinned stingray chasing waves; inside, colours and lines drawn from nature – the pink-granite peaks of the Hazard Mountains, silver-white sands, emerald-blue waves – give definition to an organic, elemental design scheme. Raffia-wrapped cushions, bespoke fabrics, leather, wood and iconic mid-century pieces keep the look grounded and contemporary.

Best hotel design: Crosby Street NYCROSBY STREET HOTEL, NEW YORK, US

Design highs Orange-leather Poltrona Frau-seated screening room • Oak-floored, pewter-countered Crosby Bar Hand-picked art and objets, including Bakelite phone/lamp hybrid

Bold prints plus bright palette, used with clever restraint and British wit: Kit Kemp has transported her trademark design style to a New York setting and let rip. Crosby Street is one of Smith’s favourite Firmdale outposts, thanks to its eco credentials and NY swagger. Everywhere you look there’s something eye-catching: a signature tailor’s dummy, clad in graphic-strewn calico; a giant pooch painting, as aristocratic as a Gainsborough; a suite with a meadow-inspired garden on the terrace. It’s English whimsy, made for Manhattan.

Best hotel design: JK Roma, Italy JK PLACE ROMA, ITALY

Design highs  Chic mid-century Mad Men-riffing bar • Carrara marble bathrooms; Massimo Listri photography • Michele Bönan’s skilful translation of period features

Architetto eclecttico Michele Bönan’s exemplary take on Italian glamour – appropriately housed in what was once Rome university’s school of architecture – transforms classrooms into elegant bedrooms packed with modish furniture, antique sculptures and striking colour combinations. JK Place Roma is a visual expression of historic Rome: timeless, art-packed and beautiful to behold. But a modern mix of mid-century references, pencil-post tester beds, antique Berber rugs and fabulous fabrics plants JK Place’s brand of luxury firmly in the 21st century.

Best hotel design: The Siam, BangkokTHE SIAM, BANGKOK, THAILAND

Design highs  Singular design, with breathtaking clarity of vision, but never forced: it’s pitch perfect and shows real passion • Ming porcelain, Neolithic pottery, antiquarian Thai books and 16th-century sculptures • Vintage ephemera from train posters to royal palace menus

If Noël Coward was holidaying in Thailand, he’d book a suite at The Siam, a swellegant, dandy affair inspired by the Jazz age. As if its great looks weren’t enough, this poised pad also boasts an unbeatable location on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. Bill Bensley’s trad-modern interiors team smart black-and-white tiles with stone, dark wood and sensual water features, organised around a jaw-dropping central courtyard. Peppered throughout this design-award magnet are museum-worthy artworks and antiques from creative director Krissada Clapp’s personal collection. Wow-worthy extras include the city’s only pool villas, Sodashi spa, screening room, private pier, a cookery school and muay Thai boxing ring.

Best hotel design: Portrait Firenze, ItalyPORTRAIT FIRENZE, ITALY

Design highs  Hand-picked Carrara marble in bathrooms • Bespoke Tosconova furniture, made in Italy • Historic photographic collection

In a modern building on the site of an ancient palazzo on the banks of the Arno, master of detail Michele Bönan alludes to the birth of Italian haute couture with elegant, pared-back interiors in a subtle palette of grey. As at Portrait’s sister hotels, the design stars here at Fifties-style fashionista Portrait Firenze are the totemic black and white photographs, sourced by art historian Nina Screti from original 1950s and 1960s archives. They are perfectly showcased beside the impeccably cut fabrics that dress windows and adorn sofas – each one made to measure with the finesse of a fashion atelier.

Best hotel design: Alila Villas Uluwatu, BaliALILA VILLAS ULUWATU, BUKIT PENINSULA, BALI

Design highs  Eye-catching over-water bar • Serious eco-chic credentials • Serenely minimalist interiors

Staking a stylish claim on Bali’s rugged Bukit Peninsula, last year’s Best-Dressed award-winner Alila Villas Uluwatu is a cool, contemporary cliffhanger of a resort that delivers dramatic eco-friendly design in a jaw-dropping setting. It’s all beautiful, but the bar is the most remarkable element – the cliff-edge construction juts out over the Indian Ocean and is all reclaimed wood and bamboo frames (it looks a bit like a bird’s nest on steroids, and is instantly Instagrammed by almost everyone who goes there). The panoramic views are incredible, of course.

Best design hotels: Saint James ParisSAINT JAMES PARIS, FRANCE

Design highs  Traditional artisan finishes with a contemporary twist • Montgolfier-striped, balloon-style marquees in the grounds • Country château feel, in the heart of Paris

Saint James Paris has always had lofty ambitions: in previous lives, the Neoclassical building has been an intellectual boot-camp for budding French boffins; before that, it was the site of the city’s first airfield, from where Montgolfier’s iconic hot-air balloons flew. In its contemporary guise as cultured city-château hotel, it’s still flying high. Designer Bambi Sloan’s bohemian dreamscape hurls colour and pattern around with gay (Parisian) abandon: she was given carte blanche, and the overall effect is delightful and transporting. Yes, it’s grandiose – but the hotel still has an enviably relaxed and welcoming atmosphere: it’s a fantasy home-from-home, the country residence of an eccentric inventor you’d be less surprised to encounter in a Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket tale.


Design highs  Living Divani, Kartell and Cassina furnishings • Vintage Asian and Persian rugs; original 19th-century tiles • Contemporary art installations and bespoke Totem technology

Part 19th-century landmark, part 21st-century architectural showcase, Amsterdam’s luxurious but laid-back Conservatorium hotel houses a top-tier restaurant and hip holistic spa. This former bank and music academy’s Neo-Gothic structure, Art Nouveau tiles and contemporary steel staircases synchronise perfectly to create a hip city hangout with a historic heart. Architect-designer Piero Lissoni daintily doffs his cap to the Dutch Golden Age, with references to Holland’s trading heritage. The full-height atrium space is a thrilling mix of original brickwork and soaring glass; and the contemporary design classics, mid-century pieces and antique objets aren’t so much ‘on display’ here as ‘at home’ – it is in no way try-hard, and the gob-smacking scale of the place never overwhelms. In short, it’s bloody clever.

Find out who’ll win our judges’ hearts when we reveal the Smith Hotel Awards winners on 7 November…. or browse more beautiful boutique hotels at


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Secret Bay, Dominica: hotel of the week

Posted by Laura House on October 10th, 2014

Secret Bay Dominica deck | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels

It’s the perfect time of year to sneak off to the Caribbean without the crowds. And, just to add to that delicious no-one-else-in-the-world-but-you-two thrill, make for the aptly named Secret Bay hotel, a private jungle hideout on the unspoilt island of Dominica.  

Style Laid-back island luxury
Setting Caribbean cliffhanger

Secret Bay Dominica room / Mr & Mrs Smith hotelsSecret Bay Dominica beach / Mr & Mrs SmithWhy this week? For an authentic back-to-nature experience, cast off from the beach at eco-friendly Secret Bay with a local fisherman on a spearfishing adventure to catch spiky lionfish for your sustainable supper. Once back on land, you’ll learn how to prepare this mild whitefish right in their beachfront kitchen. Plus, right now you can linger at the beach longer with an exclusive Smith offer of five nights for the price of four for stays from now until 20 December 2014 – just be sure to book before 5 December 2014.

Our favourite bits…  Talk about a dramatic setting: this intimate resort is perched on a tropical hillside that hangs over the cerulean Caribbean. It feels completely secluded and largely undiscovered – just like a true retreat should. There are just six intimate treehouse-style villas and bungalows, and this romantic hideaway was a runner-up for Sexiest Bedroom in last year’s Smith awards. The luxury island experience rounds out with at-your-service personal chefs and two nearby beaches for kayaking and toe-dipping strolls.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘It’s not often that you deliberately lose your way and veer so far off regimented schedules and the beaten path that you can barely pinpoint your own location on a map. If we had our way, though, this would happen with greater frequency (especially if a few afternoon rounds of flavored rum punch are involved). And Secret Bay hotel – an eco-luxury resort tucked deep among groves of fruit trees and tropical, prehistoric-looking fronds in the lush jungle of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles – is the ultimate spot for dropping off the grid.’ Read the full anonymous Mr & Mrs Smith review

Book Secret Bay now or search all Mr & Mrs Smith offers.

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New for October: Smith hotels in Oman, Costa Rica, Mexico and Sri Lanka

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on October 5th, 2014

Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel in Oman

We’re feeling rather adventurous this month. First off, meet Alila Jabal Akhdar (above), spectacularly secluded in the stark, rugged Al Hajar mountain range – it’s responsible for us using the phrase “Man, Oman!” far too many times in the office recently (the more bad puns we make, the more you know we love it). It’s one of the most jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring spots we’ve ever seen, and the service is superlative too.

Pacuare Lodge hotel in Costa RicaHotelito Desconocido Sanctuary Reserve & Spa hotel in Jalisco Then we headed off to Costa Rica, where Pacuare Lodge (right) – surrounded by 25,000 verdant acres of primordial rainforest – is the type of place where you arrive by 30-minute off-road jeep ride or 90-minute white-water rafting trip. Next up, ¡to Mexico! Hotelito Desconocido (‘Little Unknown Hotel’) in Jaliso has untouched beaches, an oceanfront infinity pool and some gloriously bold choices in bedroom wall colours (below right).

We ended our world tour for this month in Sri Lanka, where we added four boutique delights to our hand-picked hotel collection: the butler-at-the-ready River House, seaside Amanwella, Brit-owned, Dutch-flavoured Reef Villa & Spa and dazzling hilltop Living Heritage Koslanda… now, where to for next month?

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The Australasian Circa 1858, Fleurieu Peninsula: hotel of the week

Posted by Sarah Jappy on October 3rd, 2014

australasian outside resizedAC1858 dining room resized

As the southern hemisphere heats up, the yearly migration of whales is coming to an end; now is your last chance to catch them swim by the South Australian coast until next year. We’re heading to the Fleurieu Peninsula for an adults-only stay at The Australasian Circa 1858

Style Heritage bones, mod-Asian heart
Setting Wharf-view Goolwa main street

Why this week? Tucked away on the Fleurieu Peninsula, the Australasian Circa 1858 is in the perfect location for a day trip to Encounter Bay for a spot of whale watching – the Southern Right species are about to head to Antarctica for the summer, so it’s your last chance to catch the pod until next winter. They usually stick around until the end of October, but we wouldn’t be hesitating.

Our favourite bits…The hotel is a surprise-in-waiting: the heritage pub exterior gives no hint of the light, Asian-inspired decor waiting for you inside. 74612-australasian-parlourroomlightbathnbed resizedThe Parlour Room whispers extravagance with a huge tub in a step-up area of the bedroom, perfect for a luxurious bubble bath. You may even be able to spot a marine animal from the window – the room has fantastic views of Hindmarsh Island. All the rooms have interesting combinations of fabrics, furniture and artwork and Thann Aromatic toiletries in the bathrooms. The restaurant is worth the visit alone; co-owner Juliet Michell’s fine dining fare is exclusively available to guests most evenings (except on Saturday night, when it’s open to the public), offering a fixed menu with an Asian bent that often includes a plate of dessert treats – she trained as a pastry chef.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘Once a sandstone pub – it served its last beer in 1934 – the Australasian Circa 1858 has been completely renovated by owners Deborah Smalley and Juliet Michell. The five rooms, all different shapes and sizes to work around heritage concerns, have a light and airy vibe, Oriental detailing, such as silk kimonos hanging on the walls, and mid-century furniture. The tranquil lobby has the relaxed nature of a spa, and an upper and lower deck offer views to Hindmarsh Island.’ Read more about The Australasia Circa 1858

Browse more hotels in South Australia, see more offers from Mr & Mrs Smith or contact our Travel Team on 1300 896 627.

*Copy complied by Emily Jacobs

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High Road House, London: hotel of the week

Posted by Kate Weir on September 26th, 2014

We’re craving some au courant beats in quintessentially cool-Britannia surrounds: step up hip boutique hotel High Road House: the retro-chic members’ club in West London‘s laid-back Chiswick district.

Boutique hotel London | High Road House

Style Arty-urbanites
Setting Leafy London

Luxury London hotel | High Road House Hip hotel bar London | High Road House Best hotel design | High Road HouseWhy this week? To knock back a puntastic Scotchwork Orange cocktail while the DJs at Nick Jones’ High Road House bar inspire you to dance from Thursdays to Saturday. Keep your toes tapping at the EFG London Jazz Festival at the Barbican (14–23 November), then spend your evenings hobnobbing with the hotel’s bohemian crowd; after all, you are at one of London’s most exclusive members’ clubs. This week there’s a half-price dining offer (including drinks), when you book before the 30 November 2014 – as if you needed an excuse to try their primped-up-gastropub fare.

Our favourite bits We love the hotel’s Mad Men comes to London feel – courtesy of taste-making designer Ilse Crawford – from the freestanding baths and polished-brass shelving, to the patchwork-quilt floor tiles in the restaurant and re-upholstered sofas. Filled with framed posters and stacked books, the Georgian townhouse is light, bright and relaxed – the red sofas and sheepskin rugs in the den-like downstairs bar are almost too inviting…

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘It’s a vast, gleaming white space, in which the only splashes of colour are afforded by a yellow wooden chair hanging on a hook and a green cashmere blanket on the bed. We smiled. After the flash of snow-blindness had cleared, the nuances of the room became apparent…’ Read the full anonymous High Road House hotel review

You say… ‘Super friendly staff, incredibly comfortable bed, awesome water pressure and outstanding Cowshed products. I promise I don’t work for the Soho House Group. Love the place.’ Ben, BlackSmith, stayed 13 October 2012

Like what you see? Why not take a look at our luxury London hotels or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers now.

Written by Emma Russell.

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H2 Hotel, Healdsburg: hotel of the week

Posted by Laura House on September 19th, 2014

H2 hotel lobby | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels

The ink-black Sangiovese, regal purple pinot noir and the plump pearl of a chardonnay… we’re all about the mighty grape this time of year. So we’re off to the California wine country for a stay at H2 Hotel in happening Healdsburg. 

Style Green, by nature
Setting Heart of Healdsburg

H2 Hotel hotel room | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsH2 Hotel, Sonoma | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsWhy this week? Customarily chilled-out Sonoma County buzzes with energy during the gathering, pressing and sipping season. In the generous spirit of the harvest, our friends at H2 have come up with a two-night stay exclusive with wine tasting passes, a dining credit at the hotel’s award-winning Spoonbar restaurant and upgrades when available. Just make sure to book this wine and dine special before 30 September. 

Our favourite bits…  H2 Hotel sets the eco-conscious standard in Sonoma. Rooms have furnishings fashioned from sustainable materials and bath products are locally made. There’s even a living roof rich with succulents and a protected stream runs next-door. Not to mention perks – free ashtanga yoga classes every weekend morning – and charming quirks –  the hotel is also home to the Hand Fan Museum of Healdsburg, which holds 500 fans from around the globe. Plus, the hotel is perfectly placed in downtown Healdsburg, so you’re an easy stroll from tasting rooms, cafes and fabulous eateries, too. 

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘H2 even brings its eco love to bed: pared-down rooms are a tree-hugger’s delight of striped bamboo, organic linens and green headboards. Too far from nature? Each room has a balcony or private patio. The sustainable spirit continues inside Spoonbar, where chef Louis Maldonado and the bar staff showcase local ingredients and work with area farmers to create seasonal market-led menus, served with a predictably excellent wine list.’ Read the full anonymous Mr & Mrs Smith review

Book H2 Hotel now, browse more wine country hotels or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers.

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We threw a great little gourmet gathering last night in buzzing Bethnal Green at Town Hall Hotel & Apartment‘s new Typing Room restaurant with super chefs Lee Westcott (below) and Sophie Michell. As if dining on delicious canapés from Chef Westcott and his gang weren’t excuse enough to celebrate, we were also hailing the upcoming launch of the new Great Global Chefs iPad app we’ve cooked up in partnership with Great British Chefs (get it from the App Store on 8 October).

Chef Lee Westcott, Typing Room, Town Hall

The app’s packed with step-by-step recipes and profiles of chefs and restaurants, many of which – including the Typing Room – are also shortlisted for Best Hotel Restaurant in the Smith Hotel Awards (it’s a delicious dilemma, but pick your favourite before voting closes on September 30!)

After an introduction by Smith co-founders James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy, Lee and Sophie launched into an entertaining chef-on-chef Q&A: topics included their own favourite chefs, what you can find in their fridges – cheese, wine and yoghurt for Lee – and what they’re particularly keen on cooking (Sophie’s a big fan of the versatile sea urchin). After questions from the floor, the canapés continued: the hot topic of the evening quickly became which of the macarons was the best, lemon curd or salted caramel. After make-overs and portraits, our assorted foodie guests departed clutching glorious gift bags – many thanks to Biscuiteers, Lindt, Sipsmith, Eat 17, Joe’s Tea Co, l’Occitane and Pont St for providing so many delights.

Cheers all who came (and had their photos taken)!

(Photos by Rachel Juarez-Carr)

Great Global Chefs launch party at Town Hall

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