Sitting with a friend over coffee this week, we discussed the pure joy of a weekend away. Without children! In Paris! Who wouldn’t love that? In fact, who doesn’t love a weekend away full stop? A lovely hotel, an escape from your daily routine, time out to relax – it’s basically a recharge for the soul. There are of course, several types of weekend away – all fabulous, all a little different – for example, the couples-only-escape-from-the-kids weekend, the friends-only-escape-from-the-husband weekend, the mother/daughter weekend, the mother/son weekend…. And then there’s the family weekend away. Arguably less relaxing, but none-the-less enjoyable (bar the times when the novovirus strikes), the family weekend away is great because even though you’re up early and on-the-go all day, you’re still away from your to-do list, your pile of washing, your work, that nagging bit of painting you keep meaning to do…It’s just you, your husband and kids – hopefully having fun.
In that spirit, my weekend wish list is ALL about heading off for a night or two. In fact, as I type, Natasha is doing just that, spending a glorious night away with her best friend at the to-die-for Limewood hotel in Hampshire. Now, where would I like to go?
First up, I’m thinking glamorous. I’m thinking fun. I’m thinking cocktails in a bar surrounded by real live GROWN-UPs (can you tell I haven’t been out much recently?) I’m thinking the new No 131 in Cheltenham. Slap bang in the heart of town, this is a city break for people who don’t like big stinking cities or perhaps it’s a Cotswold weekend for people who don’t like the countryside. Whatever it is, it’s gorgeous. From the team behind the fabulous Wheatsheaf, it’s super-stylish (we’re talking exposed brick walls, great artwork and beautiful tiled floors) with just 11 individually-decorated rooms, a lovely restaurant and a very cool vibe. The food is great, the outdoor courtyard is a lovely touch and the cocktails enough to make you kick up your heels and restart your fun-loving engine. Rooms from £150 a night.
For a completely different type of weekend there’s Bowood House in Wiltshire. Now this 43-room golf and spa resort might not appeal to everyone – it’s not as stylish as 131 and it feels a little corporate in places BUT it is very friendly, has an amazing adventure playground, free access to Tractor Ted’s Little Farm (kid-tastic fun), a championship golf course and access to the real Bowood House (home of the 9th Marquis of Lansdowne) and its Capability Brown gardens. It’s the sort of place where there’s so much to do, you don’t actually have to speak to each other. Which let’s face it, is sometimes what it’s all about.
One place I really want to visit is the new Lord Crewe Arms in Northumberland. This is largely because it is a sister hotel to Calcot Manor, which in my mind is one of the best family hotels in the world. Everything about Calcot is a dream (I won’t go on, but you can read more here) and the Lord Crewe Arms looks similarly good. There are 21 beautiful bedrooms, 2 restaurants, an atmospheric bar and a lovely setting in the North Pennine Hills. For a laid-back weekend break in the North East, it’ll be hard to beat.
Even though I live in London, I would still spend a weekend ‘away’ in London doing all the things I talk about doing, but never do. If I do ever get to do this again, then this is where I’d stay. It’s not open until next month, but if you want buzz, then Ham Yard Hotel in London’s Soho will have it in spades. The eighth hotel from the always-wonderful Firmdale Group (behind the Soho Hotel and Charlotte Street Hotel etc), Ham Yard has been built around a tree-filled garden, which is guaranteed to be the place to eat, drink and hang out in London during the summer. Factor in 91 rooms, 13 boutiques, a restaurant, bar, theatre, rooftop garden and private bowling alley and you have one seriously amazing hotel.