At a time when we’re all looking under our sofas for pound coins, what could be more welcome to us penny-pinchers than a hotel that’s affordable as well as stylish and luxurious? Well, a cheap chic hotel that’s just a short drive away, of course. Following on from Monday’s round-up of Europe’s best bargains, here’s our five favourite budget boutique hotels in the UK and Ireland…
WEST SUSSEX, ENGLAND
Style Contemporary rusticity
Setting Pagham Harbour bird sanctuary
So what do I get for my money? With all the ingredients you need for a perfect pub stay – flagstone floors and fireplaces, squishy leather sofas, great food, and super-comfy rooms to retire to – this 16th-century inn is the epitome of rustic chic. Its restaurant is pretty special, too. A daily changing Modern British menu focuses on locally landed fish and locally reared meats. Look out for the Selsey crab and sardines caught on the south coast.
Worth getting out of bed for West Wittering, a few miles to the west, takes the prize for its Blue Flag beach and extensive sandy flats; test your kite-surfing or windsurfing skills. From here you can also walk to East Head, a sand-dune spit with walkways that’s quite perfect for a romantic post-watersports stroll at sunset.
Any free extras? Get a bottle of house wine when you show your Mr & Mrs Smith membership card at check-in.
The bottom line From £120 a night, including breakfast. Tell me more…
Style Boutique bed and breakfast
Setting Between mountain and beach
So what do I get for my money? Something of a design classic, this intimate nine-room B&B is stuffed to its stylish rafters with Robin Day chairs, infinity mirrors and original 1960s Sanderson flock wallpaper – all personally sourced by its owners from ebay and antiques fairs. Some rooms offer gorgeous panoramic views of nearby Snowdonia, and there’s also a beautiful landscaped garden in which you can inhale deep breaths of salt-flecked sea air. The guest lounge comes with a plasma-screen TV and DVD library.
Worth getting out of bed for If you’re feeling active, Snowdonia National Park is perfect for a huge range of activities, including mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoning, hiking and canoeing. Escape can help organise activities. West Shore is the quieter of Llandudno’s beaches, and popular with kite-surfers. There are several of the British Isles’ most spectacular castles within easy reach. Conwy Castle is 10 minutes away.
Any free extras? Twenty five per cent off all purchases from the honesty bar when you show your Mr & Mrs Smith membership card at check-in.
The bottom line From £85 a night, including breakfast. Tell me more…
COUNTY CARLOW, IRELAND
Style Georgian elegance, Irish imagination
Setting Quirky County Carlow
So what do I get for my money? From the moment you walk into reception at Kilgraney House, you feel as though you’re in someone’s incredibly attractive home – which, essentially, you are. Owners Bryan and Martin have filled this lovely Georgian building with paintings and objects from their time working in the Philippines, giving the whole place a well-travelled and highly individual feel, and they encourage hungry guests to take their six-course evening meals around a communal table. There aren’t many homes that come with an Aroma Spa and treatment rooms, though; and the themed bedrooms – African, Buddha, Philippines, etc – have to be seen to be believed.
Worth getting out of bed for The pace of life is slow in rural Ireland, so this is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in gentler pursuits. A licence for coarse fishing on the River Barrow can be arranged by the tackle shop in Bagenalstown, and there’s horse-riding on offer at several local stables. Afterwards, drop in for a pint at the fantastically old-fashioned O’Sheas pub in Borris. Not only does it sell a fine glass of Guinness, but it also doubles as an electrical shop.
Any free extras? Complimentary Irish coffee with dinner when you show your Mr & Mrs Smith membership card at check-in. Smith members taking a two-night, two-dinners stay in a courtyard suite receive a free session in the Aroma Spa.
The bottom line From £85 a night, including breakfast. Tell me more…
Style Classic Cotwolds coaching inn
Setting Fringes of Gatcombe Park
So what do I get for my money? Offering hearty gastropub food, cosy contemporary bedrooms and, intriguingly, the occasional haunting (the restless ghosts of a former landlord’s wife and child are said to pop in from time to time), the Ragged Cot is a beautiful 17th-century inn set in 600 acres of rambling National Trust parkland. Just as well. Guests will be glad of so much opportunity to walk off the calories they’ll accrue in the downstairs restaurant – which serves up traditional British classics such as steak-and-stilton pudding and Bakewell tart, executed with thoroughly modern panache;
Worth getting out of bed for The area around the Ragged Cot is brimming with country pursuits, most notably Princess Anne’s Gatcombe Park Estate, which is just a few fields away from the inn, and plays host to the famouse Gatcombe Horse Trials every year. If you’re into country driving, the inn has a relationship with a classic-car club nearby, so book yourself an E-type, roll back the roof and feel the wind in your hair as you zip along the lanes.
Any free extras? A cream tea for two when you show your Mr & Mrs Smith membership card at check-in.
The bottom line From £100 a night, including breakfast. Tell me more…
Style Contemporary cocktail bar
Setting The heart of Edinburgh
So what do I get for my money? Rick’s isn’t exactly a hotel: it’s a designer bar with 10 contemporary rooms – all of which are stylish, small but perfectly formed. In the downstairs area, low ceilings and coloured mood lighting provide a cosy, intimate atmosphere, while obscenely attractive bar staff are on hand to mix you inventive concoctions from the comprehensive cocktail list. The rooftop Rick’s Edinburgh Restaurant offers stunning views over the city and out to sea, as well as a tempting Modern European menu with an emphasis on fresh Scottish seafood.
Worth getting out of bed for Edinburgh is a compact town and, despite the odd steep gradient, it’s just the right size for getting about on foot. Make a day of it by taking the Water of Leith walkway – a public footpath and cycleway. Start at Balerno High School and follow the signs under the Union Canal, all the way (12 miles) to Leith waterfront. If you’d prefer to shop, then Multrees Walk on St Andrew’s Square is home to Harvey Nichols, Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani et al. For vintage finds, second-hand emporium WM Armstrong and Sons on the Grassmarket does a neat line in kilts and cashmere.
Any free extras? A complimentary cocktail and 15 per cent off your final bill in Rick’s restaurant when you show your Mr & Mrs Smith membership card at check-in.
The bottom line From £110 a night, including breakfast. Tell me more…
Check back later this week for our round up of the best budget hotels in the world (excluding the best UK hotels, of course).