Luxury travel blogger Amanda O’Brien, a.k.a The Boutique Adventurer, shares her favourite boutique hotel spots in England.
As a luxury travel blogger, I love that I am spoilt for choice when it comes to boutique hotels in England; each have their own unique characteristics and offer so much more than just a fancy goose feather pillow to place your head on for the evening.
Many visitors to the UK focus their time on London and Edinburgh; however boutique hotels have been increasingly popping up in some of the more off-the-beaten-path locations. From the exotic micro climate of the Isles of Scilly, to the chocolate box villages of the Cotswolds, to the Wild Ponies of the New Forest, why not try somewhere stylishly different for your next weekend away!
An English gastro-pub boutique hotel in Oxfordshire
Photos courtesy of The Trout at Tadpole Bridge
The Trout is exactly as you would imagine the perfect English gastro-pub in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. The building is made of the honeyed Cotswolds stones and is set on the river near a very cute Bridge – the Tadpole Bridge of course!
Inside, you’ll find English country pub meets Farrow and Ball. A clean yet pared back design with some serious wallpapers and tasteful colours. The six rooms are stylish, but oh so comfortable. They feature rain showers (I had one in my room and it was terrific), claw foot bath tubs and large brass beds. Dogs are welcome for a small extra charge in three of the rooms.
The menu is upmarket gastro pub with, of course, as many locally sourced ingredients as possible (particularly the fish and the game). The restaurant sources all its meat from a small supplier in nearby Cheltenham. There is an excellent wine list – and even better a huge outdoor grassed area where guests can sit and enjoy said wine – right down to the banks of the river.
And that’s not all! For Downtown Abbey fans, the hotel is close to the village of Bampton: the heart of “The Downton Mile”. Many exterior shots for the TV show were filmed here: you can see the church, the hospital and Mrs Crawley’s house.Compare price
A historic boutique hotel in the New Forest with incredible food
This historic Inn has been owned by the same family since 1782 and is located in the heart of the New Forest and is home to the oldest golf club in Hampshire: the Bramshaw. The Grade 11 listed building mixes the Inn’s classic architecture with modern style and comforts; its 28 bedrooms come with Egyptian cotton bed linen, soft duvets plus all the modern comforts you’d expect.
The Bell Inn is surrounded by great walks and cycling paths, so be sure to pick up a copy of the hotel’s area guide. See if you can spot the New Forest “Big 5”: wild ponies, donkeys, pigs, sheep and cows, on your way to Minstead Village or Cadman’s Pool.
Being in the New Forest provides the Inn with some fantastic local sourcing opportunities for its acclaimed restaurant. The menu changes with the seasons, serving meat from local farms. I enjoyed some fantastic pork belly when I visited, it was very light and tender and accompanied by ham hock hash and Blackwater Farm Faggot. My starter was one of the chef’s specialties – crab brulee – and was quite the sensation. For dessert the Inn offers mini versions of its most popular offerings; I highly recommend the lavender panna cotta and chocolate torte.
Breakfast consists of a buffet with homemade granola, Greek yogurt, cereals, pastries, juices etc. You can then choose from the full English (vegetarian option available), kippers, salmon and eggs etc.Compare price
A boutique hotel in Sussex with a luxurious spa
If you’re looking for a historical boutique hotel in England, Ockenden Manor is the perfect choice. It was first built in the 1500s and then rebuilt in the 1650s following a fire; it has been a hotel since the end of World War Two.
The Manor is a gorgeous old building. The ground floor has a very cozy bar, and the larger dining room is the venue for main meals. My personal favorite was the lovely living room where afternoon tea is served and where you can also enjoy a pre-dinner drink.
The Sussex area is the home of English sparkling wine. There are three on the menu at Ockenden Manor and I highly recommend you try one (or three!).
The rooms are extremely cosy and comfortable whilst still feeling stylish. The bathroom was huge with both a claw foot tub and a shower with lovely large shower head.
Ockenden Manor is part of a small classic English village called Cuckfield. There are some lovely walks around the area; however, in my opinion the best thing to do whilst staying at Ockenden Manor is to use their lovely spa!
The spa offers a variety of treatments; I tried their signature float tank which is a very relaxing treatment. In the spa you’ll find a 15-foot pool that has an outside and an inside section, plus multiple lounges. I particularly enjoyed the rainforest shower near the pool.Compare price
A boutique hotel in London with incredible views
The Shangri La is the extreme end of boutique hotels and the London location offers such personalized service and unique experiences, that I had to include it! Let’s start with its amazing location at the top of Shard, offering incredible views over central London. The hotel takes full advantage of these views– you can even take it in from your bathroom!
The rooms themselves are stunning. Beautifully decked out in the highest quality linen (300 thread count Frette) and furniture, you will feel wonderfully pampered. Some of the rooms even come with a telescope for you to explore the winding streets below and vast skyline ahead. L’Occitane toiletries, plush bathrobes, and your own Nespresso machine finish things off nicely!
Perhaps my favourite thing about the Shangri La is how closely it works with the local community. When you hit the amazing breakfast buffet in the morning you’ll be treated to delicious local honey that has been sourced from Bermondsey Bees.
In addition to being located inside the Shard, the Shangri La is only a few paces from London’s famous Borough Market. And one of the unique local experiences the hotel offers is a behind-the-scenes tour of Borough Market – complete with tastings!Compare price
A boutique island hotel on the Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly have to be one of the best kept secrets in the UK. This stunning collection of seven islands has its own micro climate, allowing for tropical gardens and much better weather than the rest of the UK. It’s location- off the coast of Cornwall- limits tourism and gives the Isles of Scilly a far away, magical feel.
Getting to Scilly is one of the best parts of the trip. Whilst you could take a boat across the choppy seas, I would recommend going by air. It is one of the most fantastic small plane short journeys available and I would have happily paid for this as an experience in itself – the fact that it got me from A to B was just a bonus!
Tregarthens is the boutique hotel to stay in on St Mary’s – the largest of the seven islands and the only one that has roads. The hotel has a fantastic location on the harbour and the majority of rooms overlook the sea. The hotel offers everything from standard rooms to cottages with several options in between.
The Isles of Scilly are all about boats, walks and crab sandwiches. Each morning the times and locations for boat journeys for the day are posted on the harbour. Choose any island, and you will be guaranteed a stunning walk and at least one restaurant serving crab sandwiches!
Image source: travel blogger Amanda O’Brien
My top tip is to check the nightly boat schedule. Each evening a boat heads from St Marys to one of the other islands. It arrives in time for you to have a walk around the island and a pub dinner. The boat will then be waiting to take you back to St Marys. This gives a whole other meaning to popping out for a pub meal!Compare price
London based travel blogger Amanda O’Brien is The Boutique Adventurer. Her blog focuses on luxury adventures in emerging destinations, that always end with a high thread count on your sheets!