With the Hilden Style Awards 2016 now in full swing, we’re receiving excellent entries from some of the UK’s best hospitality venues. Yet we’ve always valued personal opinions, and finding out what the people who actually visit these venues think is one of the best ways to judge whether or not they are actually any good. We also know that a good hotel or restaurant is much more than just having fancy bespoke table linen.
With that mind, we decided to go out and ask for recommendations from those who have huge followings of people who deeply respect their opinions on the world of travel – the top UK travel bloggers!
We asked them the following question; “What are your recommendations for most stylish independent restaurants and hotels in the UK?”.
With over 2 million blog posts published every day, it’s safe to say that getting noticed in the blogosphere can be a tough task. Yet through a combination of excellent content, building a community and some marketing, a blog can rise to the top. This is what the top UK travel bloggers have managed to do, and as they have so many people who love their content, they obviously seem to know where the best places to visit are.
The answers we got include a great range of boutique hotels and restaurants from around the UK. Each has been personally visited by the blogger in question, so you can be assured you’re getting real personal opinions.
From ultra-stylish hotel bedrooms with luxury bed linen, to restaurants that consider every detail down to the bespoke table linen – these are some of the very best!
Dr. Paul Johnson, A Luxury Travel Blog
Photo: Kinloch Lodge Hotel, Isle of Skye
Our first set of recommendations comes from Dr. Paul Johnson, the editor of A Luxury Travel Blog. His blog is one of the biggest luxury travel blogs in the world, consistently being awarded with such accolades as one of “the world’s best travel blogs” by The Daily Telegraph and ‘Best Travel Influencer’ by WIRED. Paul has worked in the travel industry for more than 25 years, so he certainly knows his stuff when it comes to uncovering those hidden gems!
‘As Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog, I’ve been lucky enough to stay at many of the world’s best hotels and dine at some of the finest restaurants.
Among my favourite independent recent stays in the UK have been the Athenaeum Hotel & Apartments (the apartments are great for families) and The Wellesley, both in the capital.
For more rural retreats, I would recommend Congham Hall in Norfolk or, for self-catering, Yellow Cottage in Cornwall available through Perfect Stays or indeed our very own holiday apartment between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, at KendalCottages.com.
As far as restaurants are concerned, the restaurant at Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye sticks in my mind as a place to have an excellent dinner where you might least expect it.’
Ross Fraser, The Luxury Editor
Photo: Field House Grill, Edinburgh
The Luxury Editor is the baby of three experienced travellers who travel the world to unearth buried luxury treasures. All three are from the UK, but travel everywhere from Hong Kong to the ski resorts of Europe. We’re firmly staying in the UK for this article, so we asked Ross, one of the founders, for his opinion on some of the best hospitality in our country.
‘Accommodation – The Old Town Chambers in Edinburgh is award winning 5-star self-catering accommodation (from studios to penthouses) located right in the heart of the city’s Old Town. Modern design sits harmoniously with the building’s historical architecture. Each apartment has been individually styled with contemporary fabrics and furnishings that give a nod towards Scotland’s rich heritage.
Restaurant – Field House Grill is a hidden gem in Edinburgh’s bustling Stockbridge. Serving a selection of premium cooked meat and fish it really epitomises field to plate ethos. Small intimate surroundings and knowledgeable staff make it the perfect choice for an evening out.’
Angie Silver, Silverspoon London
Photo: The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall
You’d be hard pressed to find a place that Angie Silver, owner of Silverspoon London, hasn’t visited. The daily content has a heavy focus on life in London, but Angie is always jetting off to somewhere new too. Aside from luxury travel, she’s also a big food lover. Her descriptions and photographs of the food in some of the best restaurants in the UK always have our mouths watering.
“I stayed at The Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall earlier this year and it’s super stylish so that would be my choice for an independent hotel. Design-wise, Blixen in Spitalfields is gorgeous!”
Super stylish is a great choice of words for The Scarlet Hotel, but we’d also add ‘stunning views’ to that description. Situated on the rocky Cornwall coast, you can look out over the sea as you enjoy a meal or relax in bed. Better still, you could even lie back in a hot tub with the sound of crashing waves against the rocks behind you.
As for Blixen, it’s one of those restaurants that has caught on to the growing trend of counter eating. A plant-entwined pergola adds a unique touch to a pleasing design.
Gretta Schifano, Mums Do Travel
Photo: Star Castle Hotel, St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly
Gretta Schifano does most of her travelling with her family in tow, making Mums Do Travel the place to go for family travel inspiration. For Gretta, style is important, but the place you’re staying also has to have a welcoming feel. We couldn’t agree more, as you don’t want somewhere to be all style and no substance.
‘I enjoy staying at places which are stylish but also homely and welcoming. I’d definitely recommend the Star Castle Hotel on St. Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly, where I stayed for three nights recently. It’s a luxurious four-star hotel housed in an historic fortress with spectacular sea views. I also loved staying at The Slate Shed B&B in Snowdonia, Wales – a stylishly renovated former slate works.’
The Isles of Scilly are a beautiful place to visit and the Star Castle Hotel has fantastic sea views. The Slate Shed B&B shows how well old buildings can be repurposed into something completely different to its original function.
Ana Silva O’Reilly, Mrs. O Around The World
Photo: Chiltern Firehouse, London
Ana Silva O’Reilly is lucky enough to live a life that many of us can only dream of. However, it’s a good idea to point out that a common thread of most luxury travel blogs is that luxury doesn’t have to be overly expensive as long as you plan it right. Mrs. O Around The World documents her luxury travel experiences around the world, making you instantly want to jump up from your desk and hop on the next plane. She filled us in on her favourite independent sleeping and eating spots. If the places we’ve already mentioned haven’t met your luxury expectations, these ones certainly will!
‘I loved the Royal Crescent in Bath – it was beautifully decorated, the service was out of this world and its location was fantastic. I knew I was in Bath, at the heart of Bath, in its Crescent and it is one of my UK favourites without a doubt.
With regards to restaurants, I am a great fan of the original Hakkasan in Hanway Place, London (I know it isn’t an independent) but after a decade I still get excited. My vote would be Chiltern Firehouse where my fellow countryman Nuno Mendes runs the kitchen and delights every time. Closer to home, I have a soft spot for The Crooked Billet in Stoke Row, near Henley on Thames – it is countryside stylish and I love it.’
Suze, Luxury Columnist
Photo: Shepherd House, Faversham, Kent
Suze, the writer at Luxury Columnist, shares her luxury lifestyle with the Internet, all of which are accompanied with the results of her fantastic snapping skills. You’ll find blog posts about visiting hidden gems on the French Riviera to a weekend in Seville, Suze also loves exploring London. Suze was happy to share a few of her recent favourites with us.
‘There are so many, but I recently visited Ston Easton Park in Somerset, it’s a beautiful country house hotel close to Bath. Shepherd House in Faversham, Kent, is a designers dream and the owners are really friendly. As for restaurants, Chamberlain’s in Leadenhall Market is one of the best places to eat fish in London.’
Asma Younus, Jet Set Chick
Photo: Tattu restaurant, Manchester
Since Hilden is based in Blackburn, it would be amiss of us to not include the Northern perspective. Asma Younus of Jet Set Chick is from Manchester and writes about travel, food, and lifestyle whilst still managing to hold down a full-time job. Many of the bloggers on this list tend to focus on London, so it’s refreshing to find out more about hospitality in the Manchester area. Asma had plenty to say, so we’ll let it speak for itself.
‘I don’t even have to think twice to recommend the most stylish independent hotel I’ve stayed at in the UK, the Gilpin Hotel and Lake House in Windermere is a retreat like no other. You’d never have known it was first built in 1901, although it’s kept its traditional styles, the fabrics, textures and furniture inside are glamorous and modern. Warm and rich colours welcome you in, with most communal rooms boasting open fireplaces and tall windows, making it the perfect destination whatever the weather.
The Manchester food and drink scene has boomed in the last few years and each and every opening has been original. I have two firm favourites in the City, which out-do any other restaurant I have visited.
Tattu, in the heart of Spinningfields in Manchester takes visitors on a sensory journey from East to West. There are a number of stylish features: Tattoo artwork; deep rich leathers; bespoke wrought iron fixtures; nautical ropes; oriental screens and their piece de resistance a four-metre tall cherry blossom tree. They are also the first restaurant I’ve seen to introduce a food runway from the kitchen to the diner, the perfect entrance for food that is as stylish as its interiors.
Last year I was happy to see another new addition to Spinningfields, Scene, an Indian restaurant that has invested in some well thought out interior design heavily influenced by, you guessed it, India. It was the little details that appealed to me; the Bollywood movie posters, bright colours against muted tones, the traditional pots and pans strategically placed on larder shelves. There’s a beautiful painting of Agra station, lots of funky well-placed graffiti and suspended above the diners is what they call the Asian museum, a collection of artefacts from the sub-continent. The booths are based on Bombay street shacks, albeit these are pretty luxurious versions, with soft furnishings and mood lighting.’
Victoria Philpott, Vicky Flip Flop Travels
Photo: Artist Residence Hotel, London
Victoria Philpott believes that you can make the most of your annual leave, weekends and money. She believes that you don’t have to give up aspirations to travel just because you have a full-time job, and that careful budgeting will let you explore the world. This makes Vicky Flip Flop Travels the ideal place to go for travel budgeting advice, but you also get plenty of reports about Victoria’s trips around the world. She gave us some great recommendations for hotels and restaurants.
‘I was super impressed with the Artist Residence Hotel in London. It was so well designed and they managed to keep it homely while maintaining that whole cool hipster vibe too. A lot of the soft furnishings were reclaimed and it’s pretty much exactly how I’d want my house to be one day.
As for restaurants, I’d say that Brixton Village is one of the coolest places you can go. There are so many independent restaurateurs set up there. The places are small and so it’s a great testing ground for anyone who wants to set up their business. That means you get to try lots of new restaurants, and a lot of the places are BYOB too!’
Char Taylor, Taylor Hearts Travel
Photo: Glazebrook House Hotel, South Devon
Our final blogger is Char Taylor, the owner of Taylor Hearts Travel. The unique thing about Char’s blog is that she’s accomplished most of her travelling with her baby. It just goes to show that just because a child has entered your life, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on seeing some of the world. Exposing your child to new cultures and new experiences is always a good thing in our book! Char recommended some lovely boutique hotels you can find in England.
‘I’d recommend Glazebrook House Hotel in South Devon. This small boutique hotel is full of character – no two rooms are the same and each one has been lovingly designed in a completely unique, yet stylish way.
I’d also recommend The Fish in the Cotswolds. I absolutely love the decor of this place. It’s one of those hotels where you want to take the furniture and accessories home with you.’
A big thanks to all the top UK travel bloggers who took part in this!
The Hilden Style Awards 2016 are now live and we’re looking for the most stylish independent hotels, restaurants and care homes in the UK. If you run one of these establishments and think you have what it takes to impress our panel of expert judges, submit your entry here.
For everyone else, do you have recommendations like these popular travel bloggers? Let us know in the comments or, better still, contact your favourite place and let them know about our Style Awards!