The Merchant Hotel,Northern Ireland
The Merchant Hotel in Belfast has been lauded with Northern Ireland's first Five Red Stars at the revered AA Hospitality Awards. The accolade puts The Merchant into an "elite group", says Valerie Edwards in the Belfast Telegraph. Formerly the Ulster Bank's head office, the hotel is "almost Byzantine in its decoration", adds Claire Wrathall on The Telegraph Luxury website. The "city's finest hotel" made headlines this summer when it unveiled a dedicated water menu. At £26.45 for a 750ml bottle, the most expensive water is Iceberg, drawn from the Canadian Arctic Ice Shelf.
Rooms from £160. Contact: 028-9023 4888, TheMerchantHotel.com.
Kilmichael Country House, Scotland
It's not for nothing that the Good Hotel Guide's prestigious Csar awards are known as "the Oscars of the hospitality trade", says the Scotsman's Alistair Munro. Kilmichael Country House, the oldest house on the Isle of Arran, has been "recognised for the attentive personal service". This small hotel only has seven bedrooms, some with four-poster bed and Jacuzzi, but "the meals are first class", writes the guide's editor, Adam Raphael, in the Daily Mail. Enjoy "a warm salad of figs, chicken livers with leaves, and guinea fowl marinated in rum". The resident hens supply guests with freshly laid eggs for breakfast.
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Doubles from £78, room only. Contact: 01770-302219, Kilmichael.com.
Plas Bodegroes, Wales
Sawday's has named Plas Bodegroes in Pwllheli as one of three winners of its annual Hotel of the Year award.The publisher of Sawday's Special Places to Stay cited the "glorious house" as "one of the loveliest places to stay in Wales", notes Philip Dewey in the Western Mail. Set in six acres of gardens, the grounds boast a 200-year-old avenue of beech trees. The dining room-come-art gallery came in for special praise as a "suitably theatrical spot" to enjoy Nefyn Bay scallops, Welsh mountain lamb and bread and butter pudding with Welsh whisky ice cream.
Standard double room, including breakfast, from £140. Contact: 01758-612363, Bodegroes.co.uk.
Foxhill Manor, England
Foxhill Manor in Worcestershire is "absolutely the most romantic hotel I've stayed in", says Steven Bleach in The Sunday Times. Small wonder, then, that the newly renovated spa hotel, a Grade II-listed Arts and Crafts manor house set in a "gorgeous" 400-acre Cotswolds estate, scooped the newspaper's Hotel of the Year award. "Touches of whimsical art" jostle with "flashes of tech", such as tablets in each of the eight bedrooms, which range from "big to really huge". For dinner, there are a couple of menus to guide you, but "basically, it's whatever you want" (the local lamb and the cookie-dough pud were "cracking").Yes, staying at Foxhill Manor is pricey. But "it's worth every penny".
Double rooms from £295, including breakfast, drinks and snacks.See FoxHillManor.com.
The Langham, London
Artesian, at The Langham in London, has won the top spot in the "authoritative" World's 50 Best Bars awards for the fourth year in a row.Run by mixologists Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale, Artesian is famed for its "experimental, eccentric" cocktails, says Leah Hyslop in The Daily Telegraph. The menu features such creations as "Join The Colony" served on the back of a giant copper ant, and "Fast Money Comes At A Dangerous Price", mixed with whisky, camomile and sandalwood, and drunk from a golden box. "It's a destination bar," says City AM's Philip Salter. "So put aside the time (and money) for a few cocktails and really soak it all in."
A weekend break withbed and breakfast from £564 a night. Contact: 020-7636 1000, Langhamhotels.com.
Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.
Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.
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