The UK’s most interesting new arrivals for an autumn staycation include a foodie haven in Henley-on-Thames, a revamped literary landmark in Dorchester and a historic riverside affair close to Hampton Court Palace.
Here are the best spots to check into in the next couple of months.
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The King’s Arms, Dorchester
Immortalised in The Mayor of Casterbridge by regular visitor and novelist Thomas Hardy, this 300-year-old coaching inn on Dorchester is the talk of the town once more after a four-year, £5 million renovation by boutique pub and hotelier group the Stay Original Company. Behind a grand Georgian façade and Doric-columned porch is a foliage-filled bar where locals sip Conker gin and British Mure Bramble cocktails under apple-green fringed lampshades, and restaurant where Tom Blake and Steve Yates whip up hearty plates of mushroom and aubergine shawarma, and rump steak with Dorset Blue Vinny.
Twenty bedrooms (plus fourteen more in 2021) designed by Ali Gutteridge of Origin Interiors capture the imagination; some channel 1920s screen siren abode, with wine and olive colour palettes, floral-patterned headboards and velvet and silk-mix drapes, while others feature animal prints and smartened-up antique furniture. Cheery staff share Hardy trivia – book the Bay Room for a bathtub with views through the bow windows he admired – and tips on cool independent shops.
From £95 per night, room-only.
The Mitre Hotel, Hampton Court
Another exciting historic revamp is the Mitre, set on the banks of the River Thames just across the road from Hampton Court Palace. Originally used as overflow accommodation for courtiers of King Charles II, the Grade-II-listed property has been completely transformed by seasoned hotelier and restaurateur Hector Ross (ex-COO of another Surrey hit hotel, Beaverbrook).
The 36-room property – the first in his new Signet Collection – is all about finery and feasting. Bedrooms – four of which are dog-friendly – are designed by interiors whizz Nicola Harding and have joyful patterned wallpaper and whimsical touches, while push-the-boat-out suites have deep bathtubs and four poster beds. Dining options, overseen by the talented Ronnie Kimbugwe, are a smart brasserie 1665 – for Brit classics such as suckling pork, apple and mustard mash – and the more relaxed CopperNose cafe and wine bar for small plates with a real sense of fun – the teriyaki popcorn cauliflower, and Bombolini mini chocolate doughnuts are both terribly moreish. Much to the delight of rosé fiends, there’s also an al fresco Whispering Angel ‘boat shack’ bar which, in fine weather, is the spot for riverside sundowners.
From £180 per night, room-only.
Crockers Henley, Oxfordshire
The foodie opening of the moment comes from the folk behind acclaimed restaurant Crockers Tring. Inside a converted Georgian townhouse in Henley-on-Thames’ Market Place, the new outpost combines a duo of 16-seat Chef’s Table restaurants, a casual Bar and Grill – and seven smart bedrooms, aka The Quarters.
Rooms are a quirky mish-mash of sizes and are all modern romance meets warehouse cool, with roll top baths, snuggly sand-coloured throws and chunky cog-detail Anglepoise lamps. Most thrilling, however, are the theatrical, unpretentious multi-course Chef’s Table extravaganzas. The Gardinier Table – by Iain Dixon – is all about pan-Asian cuisine paired with wine, sake and shōchū,
while Dean Westcar’s Thames Table is a modern British celebration; think rich tomato, black olive, ricotta and basil risotto, and dark chocolate and pear swirled with yoghurt and bay leaf liquid nitrogen granita. There’s also robatayaki charcoal-grilled fare at The Grill, killer peanut butter and jelly old fashioneds at the Bar, and come breakfast, celeriac ‘bacon’ and baked beans on toast.
From £150 per night, B&B. From £370 per night including Chef’s Table supper and breakfast (for two).
Selina Brighton, East Sussex
Flashpacker favourite Selina’s third British opening – with 31 rooms, ranging from spacious lofts through to dinky micro-doubles – has touched down on Brighton’s seafront. Not only are the bohemian-feel bedrooms affordable, they also all have ocean views, and dreamy interiors by Tola Ojuolape – think soft coral and sea green hues alongside repurposed vintage seaside benches. The Old Pier restaurant and bar specialises in sourdough pizzas and Latin American small plates, and has a killer brunch menu – hello berry waffles with Dulce de Leche and ricotta mousse.
The Royal Pavilion and Pier are close by, and on-site, guests can enjoy socially distanced pop ups such as Lady Gala drag bingo or join community beach cleans. A co-working space with artwork by Amy Isles Freeman – whose work explores female sexuality – will open soon, as well as a roof terrace and 19 more rooms in 2021.
From £50 per night, room-only.
The PIG at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall
North Cornwall’s Harlyn Bay has an extra swoosh in its surf with the latest PIG Hotel opening a 10-minute stroll from its sandy shore. For their seventh PIG, Robin and Judy Hutson have transformed a 16th-century Grade II-listed mansion into a coastal charmer. All 26 rooms are uniquely decorated; those in the historic manor have olive and grey tones inspired by the weathered Cornish stone walls and weighty antique furniture, and the ritziest have sea views and freestanding bathtubs.
Rooms in the new slate-roofed Stonehouse have a more contemporary feel, while the wild-at-heart can bed down in one of four luxe Shepherd’s Huts. Homegrown and locally sourced produce (Camel Valley wine and seafood from Padstow) take centre stage at the Kitchen Garden and Lobster Shed restaurants. Wave riders can hit the surf at Harlyn Bay or Polzeath Beach, then return to the PIG’s Potting Shed spa rooms for Bamford and Voya treatments.
From £150 per night, room-only.
Bermonds Locke, London
With a duo of London properties already under their belt – in Aldgate and next to Millennium Bridge – Locke have cast their eyes to Bermondsey for their latest aparthotel, Bermonds Locke. Close to Shad Thames and Maltby Street market, it’s been created in collaboration with interior architects studio Holloway Li. Design inspiration combines the free-spirited Mojave desert with the property’s south London surroundings. The 143 studio apartments have a home-away-from-home vibe with Belko kitchens and roomy living spaces, alongside industrial-look beds and colour palettes which reflect peachy Californian sunsets and the blues and greys of London’s skyscape. For those who don’t fancy self-catering, Bermonds Locke is also home to Robin Gill’s excellent, seasonal-focused The Dairy restaurant (recently relocated from Clapham), as well as – in a funky co-working space – all day dining restaurant and coffee shop Shaman.
From £99 per night, room only.