The Luxury Editor provides guidance on the best places to go for luxury experiences and luxury escapes. It is an online society for discerning travellers. Here you will find Inspiration and insider tips on the latest and best in the luxury travel, food and drink sectors.
A few weeks ago, we dined in the restaurant of the luxury 5-star hotel the Villa Magna in Madrid where we had a wonderful experience and as you know, here at The Luxury Editor we love to find out more about the people behind our favourite luxury brands. So we’re delighted to share with you this interview with Charles Morris General Manager of Villa Magna. Charles is a seasoned luxury hotelier having been the General Manager of The Leela Palace Kempinski, New Delhi, General Manager of the Peninsula Bangkok as well as working at the Six Senses Maldives, Soneva Fushi Resort & Spa and Resident Manager of Le Touessrok Hotel in Mauritius. Read on to find out more about Charles and the beautiful Villa Magna hotel.
Madrid is becoming synonymous for luxury hotel experiences, what makes Villa Magna stand out from other luxury hotels in the city?
The quality of the interior design of the hotel is key. During the renovation of the Villa Magna in 2007 and 2008 Thomas Urquijo, a well-known Spanish interior designer, bought a real sense of luxury to the hotel; an elegance in the décor of the public areas and a timeless and contemporary style in our guest rooms and suites.
Ultimately the quality of our personalized service, the attention to detail and the importance we attach to guest recognition are quality standards of a luxury hotel that make us stand out. The length of service of many of our guest contact staff create what could only be described as an intuitive level of service enjoyed by many of our guests that have been staying with us for many years.
You have a long career in the luxury hospitality sector, why did you choose to work in this industry and what are your top tips for someone starting / enhancing their own career in this exciting sector?
As a teenager I really enjoyed staying in nice hotels; the design, the architecture, the luxuries of the finer things in life and I was intrigued by stories of luxury hotels, particularly in Asia. So much so that at the first opportunity I went to work in Hong Kong at the age of 26.
The number of luxury hospitality brands has increased many fold in the past few years, the opportunities are immense just pick your niche and, if you are passionate about what you are doing, the sky is the limit.
The sector is becoming increasingly competitive, so always look to develop your career by moving when interesting opportunities come your way. An entrepreneurial approach is key to success.
You started as GM of Villa Magna in 2011 how has the hotel changed over the years?
I know that our guests expect the very highest standards of service, standards that I am very familiar with given my experience in the luxury hotel sector over the past thirty years.
Since my arrival in 2011 I have endeavoured to impress upon my Villa Magna colleagues that service standards are the key to our success and it is in this area that I believe that the hotel has changed the most, working with a General Manager with more than thirty years of international experience.
Tell us about an average day for you in the hotel – if such a thing exists!
Most recently my days have been consumed by the redevelopment of the Mytha Spa that is ongoing and will be completed in April.
An average day for me is all about meeting people, hotel guests, familiar faces from the local community and, most importantly, the time to talk and discuss with members of the staff.
What does 2018 hold for Villa Magna?
We are very excited by the opening of the new Mytha Spa; a larger gym, four treatment rooms and a wet area that will including a jacuzzi, a steam room, a sauna and a hamam will provide our hotel and local guests alike with an exciting new facility dedicated to the wellbeing of the body.
A revamped lower ground floor with the Mytha Spa and Banquet functions and meeting rooms promises to be busier than ever.
Villa Magna is part of the Mytha Hotel group. What qualities does the group bring to each hotel in its portfolio?
To bring together iconic one-of-a-kind hotels is what Mytha Hotel Anthology has achieved in just the last year.
Now that we are Mytha Hotel Anthology my colleagues and I endeavor to strength the bond between each of our seven hotels so we represent the vision, the mission and the values as one group, one team, one family.
We have dined at restaurant Villa Magna which was a fabulous experience, please tell our readers about the background to the restaurant and what they can expect when dining there.
Behind the history of the restaurant there is honesty, enthusiasm, a good team that knows how to select the best seasonal products every day, something that is “authentic”.
Glamor and elegance define the atmosphere of the restaurant. We offer traditional dishes with technique and above all cuisine made with passion in which highlights the perfect synchrony of forms and flavors of traditional and contemporary cuisine.
The success of the restaurant is the concerns of excellence of the team.
What epitomises luxury (in the travel and hospitality world) for you?
The relationship that a customer establishes with a brand does epitomize luxury to me. It is a link that originates with a psychological process in the client’s mind. The purchase of luxury goods does not arise from a functional need, but from an emotional need, a desire, the luxury is associated with special theatre experiences.
Good service is essential, solve problems and exceed expectations always with a friendly treatment. Remember each client and their preferences.
Luxury is a way of life, being able to enjoy time in a certain way where that place, that service or that object makes you feel special. Some of what you cannot enjoy daily as it would cease to be luxury.
Luxury must offer guarantee, high quality as differentiating factor and exclusivity.
For someone coming to the city for the first time what are the essentials you recommend they do while they are there?
Madrid will take you from narrow boutique-lined streets to wide designer-lined avenues, from the world’s oldest restaurant to one of the most celebrated newcomers to high cuisine.
There are many different cities in Madrid and all of them are exciting and captivating. There is historic Madrid that will transport you to distant times, from the remains of the Arabic walls to the winding streets that surround it. Here you can lose yourself in the 16th and 17th centuries: the Madrid de los Austrias (Hapsburg Madrid). Walking through its old town you can traverse the city’s history and experience one of its most classic sides. From the Plaza de Oriente to the Puerta del Sol, passing through Plaza de la Paja, Plaza de la Villa, Plaza Mayor and their surroundings.
One of the most attractive aspects of Madrid is its culture. Spain is a country of great artists and the Prado-Recoletos area is one of the most important in the world, given that it contains some of the most prestigious art galleries that are home to a wealth of riches: the Prado Museum, the National Library, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum, where one can find Picasso’s Guernica.
For fashion and design lovers there is a Madrid of shopping. From international boutique retailers and large shopping centres, located in the Salamanca neighbourhood just next to the Villa Magna.
If you want to relax and leave the asphalt behind, you can dive into the Madrid of gardens and parks. But if there is one garden which the Madrileños truly love it is the Parque de El Buen Retiro, with its lake, the monument to Alfonso XII, the Crystal Palace and the Ángel Caído.
Its gastronomic wealth is equal to the other great gourmet capitals of the world. Michelin-star restaurants or the typical old taverns that are chock full of local charm. It is a city where one eats with the eyes and enjoys with the palate.
A city like this is full of life, family activities, dancing, theatre, and musicals on Gran Vía.
The Costa Del Sol is the perfect place to escape to for a luxurious holiday. It boasts beautiful beaches, breathtaking scenery, charming coastal villages, fine food and perfect weather. If you really want to spoil yourself, the Costa Del Sol is also home to many luxurious hotels where a stay in one of these can enhance the opulence of your holiday. Here is our list of the most luxurious places to stay.
Kempinski Hotel Bahia
This elegant beach-side hotel is centrally located in The Costa Del Sol and is just a short drive from Marbella, a prime location for exploring all that the area has to offer. This five-star hotel boasts 7 restaurants, including the Alminar Wine and Steak House, where you can enjoy locally sourced meats under the perfect setting of the 16th century Almenara Watchtower. There is also a Haagen Daaz ice-cream bar, perfect for cooling down after a day spent lounging near one of the three outdoor pools. This hotel also offers a luxury spa, with a variety of treatments guaranteed to help you relax and unwind whilst you are on holiday. The rooms are beautiful, all equipped with a balcony, with many boasting views of the gorgeous Mediterranean sea. The Kempinski Hotel Bahia is perfect for those who want to truly relax while they are away.
Address: Carretera de Cádiz Km, 29680 Estepona, Málaga, Spain Phone: +34 952 80 95 00 Web:www.kempinski.com
Don Carlos Resort
The Don Carlos resort in Marbella offers so much luxury and so much recreational activity that you will be tempted just to stay in the hotel and not bother exploring the local area. The hotel beach is considered to be one of the best beaches in Marbella, and you can access it straight from hotel, bliss. The hotel also offers much in the way of sports activities, with a tennis and sports club which gives you a choice of 9 courts to play on and also a huge variety of watersports that you can try.
The Puente Romano is located in the Golden Mile area of Marbella, an area specifically known for its breathtaking sea views. The big sell with the Puente Romano is the atmosphere and the layout, which feels just like an Andalusian coastal village. The resort’s Six Senses Spa was awarded Spain’s Best Resort Spa 2016 by World Spa Awards and offers treatments going beyond what other spas might provide. Their approach is to delight guests with a personalised experience to help them fully recover from the stresses and strains of everyday life whilst they holiday.
Address: Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain Phone: +34 952 82 09 00 Web:www.puenteromano.com
Marbella club is a very stylish resort, set in the Golden Mile of Marbella. The hotel is over 60 years old, but it certainly doesn’t look it, at Marbella club they keep up with the times. This hotel even offers its own botanical gardens. It is extremely relaxing to be surrounded by the likes of oranges, bananas, lemons, avocados and figs growing on the trees. Indeed, the gardens, landscaped by Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe are breathtaking and truly exotic. It could be argued, though that the most luxurious feature of the Marbella Club is the attention to detail they put into the Kid’s Club. Here, the kids have their own village, meaning that you can relax safe in the knowledge that the little ones are well taken care of.
Address: Av. Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain Phone: +34 952 82 22 11 Web:www.marbellaclub.com
Gran Hotel Miramar
The Gran Hotel Miramar is a hotel oozing with star quality and history, indeed it looks just like a palace. Set in Malaga, this hotel was opened in 1926 by Alfonso XIII. A fascinating feature of this hotel is the attention to detail put into the decoration of each room, with each floor being decorated in a different style, these being either Arabic, Mediterranean or Modernist. This hotel is situated in the heart of the city of Malaga, so there are plenty of shops and museums for you to peruse at your leisure.
The Finca Cortesin is a luxurious hotel that manages to combine the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle with our modern way of life. Located just a short drive from Marbella, on the Andalucian coast, this resort is so exclusive it even boasts its own shopping plaza, where you can treat yourself to the very best goods that the Costa Del Sol has to offer without even leaving your hotel. This is also the place to be if you like the occasional round of golf, as their golf course is ranked among the top 5 throughout all of Spain.
With its numerous beautiful sparkling lakes and the gorgeous mountain landscapes, Switzerland offers a lot of unmissable attractions. It doesn’t matter if you are planning your journey in the winter or the summer time, there are a lot of places and attractions to visit during the whole year and a luxury car is the best means of transportation to reach them. Our friends at The Edel & Stark Groupshare their favourite spots and the best luxury wheels to explore them in.
Vallée de Joux
Vallée de Joux is a charming valley located in the Canton of Vaud. There are three lakes you can visit in this beautiful valley: the Lac de Joux, the Lac Brenet and the Lac Ter. The valley is well known for its luxurious watch brands. Some of the best-known manufactures like Audemars Piguet or Breguet are producing their masterpieces with Swiss precision there, and some are even offering a view behind the scenes. If you are looking to explore the region even further, a one-hour ride takes you to the Creux du Van, an impressive natural attraction in the shape of an amphitheatre.
The Vallée de Joux can be best reached with a Porsche 911 Turbo Convertible. This top-end car of the German sports car manufacturer provides you with the necessary horsepower to climb any mountain with ease. In addition, the car guarantees pure driving pleasure on the winding pass roads that are best enjoyed with an open top and the sun shining down on your head.
Gstaad is a valley located in the middle of the Swiss mountains. No matter if its winter or summer, Gstaad is always worth a visit because of the various sporting and cultural events taking place there all year long.
The best route to reach Gstaad is by taking a mountain pass road called Col de Mosses. The smooth road is lined with lush grassy landscapes and impressive mountains in the background. You can reach Gstaad comfortably with a luxurious SUV like the Range Rover Vogue. “Vogue” is the luxury equipment line by Range Rover and promises exquisite leather interior, modern technological features as well as the smoothest ride imaginable.
If you are looking for an alpine valley where luxury and extravagance shape the lifestyle of the people, then St. Moritz is the perfect place to visit. St. Moritz is located in the beautiful Engadine and is the perfect place for shopping, wellness and sports.
To reach St. Moritz, a lovely drive down from Davos is recommended. One of the most famous pass roads of Switzerland, the Flüela Pass, leads over exciting serpentine roads towards the Engadine region, one of the highest located inhabited mountain valleys in the world. An elegant convertible like the Maserati GranCabrio MC is perfectly suited for this drive. Not only does it provide great pleasure on the challenging route down to St. Moritz, it also radiates Italian style and pride, guaranteeing a classy stay in this extravagant city.
The Edel & Stark Group is a leading provider of luxury car rental services as well as chauffeured limousine services in Switzerland, throughout Europe as well as in the United Arab Emirates. All mentioned cars can be rented with them and are accompanied by exclusive services. Delivery to any place in Switzerland, 24/7 multilingual support as well as cars in perfect conditions are guaranteed with every booking.
A decade of marriage can only mean one thing. A trip to the city of love. Not put off by the removal of the ‘love locks’ from the Pont des Arts, we headed over the water to Paris to celebrate our wedding anniversary sans padlock. Viv Blair, trusted friend of, and regular contributor to, The Luxury Editor, shares with us her experience of Le Général Hotel.
Hours of research later and I’d honed my search down to Le Marais, one of the French capital’s in vogue locales, in the vibrant 11th arrondissement. A hugely popular residential area with the city’s artists, fashionistas and trendy folk, it is full of smart bars, restaurants and boutiques, seamlessly blended with historic architecture and great links to the more touristy sites of central Paris. Nestled on a quiet street but just a short walk from the République and Oberkampf metro stations.
Le Général Hotel is quirky. If you love nothing more than a recognisable hotel chain, Le Général isn’t for you. The hotel is designed by JP Nuel who is responsible for some of France’s coolest spaces. He has created a unique, independent, boutique hotel that you won’t find replicated anywhere else. The decor features a range of totally random objects, including wall-mounted bikes and industrial sculptures in an eclectic mishmash, to create a retro-industrial feel. Vive la difference.
Welcomed by a team of enthusiastic staff, we checked in on an iPad whilst sitting in the relaxed lounge area. We tried our best in our less-than-perfect French, which was appreciated, but when we failed, the receptionist was happy to take over in English.
A. bijou. d. small but elegant and tasteful. We went for the Privilege Double which was bigger than some but still a compact space. A queen sized double was big enough. Clever storage and a compact bathroom was everything we needed for our two-night stay. A Nespresso machine was a welcome touch and the L’Occitane toiletries were delightfully French. The WIFI was sketchy being up on the sixth floor, but that didn’t matter as we were there to wander, not to laze around catching up on the latest Netflix series.
A balcony added the real piėce de résistance as we sat soaking up the spring sunshine. The sixth floor spot provided elevated views over the city.
We found a complimentary smartphone in our room. On it, heaps of information about the local area, with handy guides on where to eat and drink, unlimited 4G use as well as free calls. It also links you to the concierge for booking taxis and making local reservations. Handy for local inspiration.
In the basement we found a small gym and sauna but we’d accumulated enough steps on our Fitbits wandering this beautiful city, to avoid it during our stay. They also have a small treatment room and can book you a treatment with a local therapist if you feel the need to ease any aches and pains.
Food & Drink
It was largely a ‘sort yourself out’ approach to dining which suited us perfectly. A 24 hour honestly bar in an industrial setting with stainless steel high tables and bar stools. Jars of sweets and a wide selection of drinks said ‘make yourself at home’.
Their website claims you will enjoy an ‘American’ breakfast, however I would say it was more of a traditional French spread. Croissants, cheese, meats, eggs (cooked to order), juices, coffees/teas, as well as cereals and other breads.
There isn’t a restaurant for dining during the day, however room service is available. We found an abundance of cafes and wine bars within a stone’s throw, all providing something different. Republique of Coffee is miles away from a traditional French café. It’s colourful take on tacos were divine and we were sorry not to make it back for the pancake stacks. Great for vegetarians and gluten-free diners. The Hood was another very modern, industrial café in the area where we tucked into a range of colourful baking whilst playing cards – seemed to be the done thing and we like to fit in. And Le Barav has it all. Wander in via its wine shop, pick a bottle, grab a table (go early!), then choose a selection of meat and cheese boards and while away the evening. A clear favourite with the locals.
We paid about £200 per night for the mid-range Privilege Double which included breakfast.
We won’t wait another decade to head back to Le Général Hotel.
After a recent long weekend break in York, rediscovering one of the UK’s most beautiful (and livable cities) we thought we would put together this mini guide to the best luxury hotels, from historic country houses to hip boutique hotels York really packs a punch!
Middlethorpe Hotel and Spa
Do you dream of time spent in the stunning Yorkshire countryside, yet want to explore one of the county’s most beautiful cities? Then the luxurious Middlethorpe Hotel and Spa may be just what you’re looking for. Set in 20 acres of its own grounds right next door to York racecourse, and just a couple of miles from York’s vibrant city centre, this magnificent late 17th century country-house hotel oozes luxury and character in equal proportions. It attracts visitors from home and abroad who wish to enjoy its therapeutic spa, share its magnificent gardens with a herd of roe deer after a day in the city, or enjoy fine-dining in its acclaimed restaurant after a day at the races.
If you want luxury, the Grand Hotel and Spa in York is unashamedly luxurious. The city’s only full AA 5-star establishment, it is in the process of a major £15m refurbishment. With the revamp well under way the hotel now boasts 207 guest bedrooms as well as new restaurants, an additional lounge, terrace and bars. Whether you are visiting the beautiful City of York to explore its heritage, or to enjoy a couple’s away-from-it-all self-indulgent weekend in the hotel’s spa complex, you will leave The Grand Hotel feeling totally rejuvenated.
An old station-hotel dating back to the Victorian era, The Principal has been transformed into an elegant, yet modern establishment ideally placed for exploring the city. York Minster is a ten minute walk away and the National Railway Museum just five minutes. As would be expected from a luxury hotel the facilities are excellent with hotel concierge, and porters who will meet you at the station if you’re arriving by train. While enjoying the sights and sounds of York don’t miss out on afternoon tea in the hotel’s fabulous Garden Rooms. In the evening make use of the hotel’s pool and gymnasium, before enjoying a gourmet evening meal prepared with Yorkshire’s finest products.
They say location is everything, and whether you’re in York for a romantic weekend break, or to explore the city’s historical past, Greys Court Hotel makes the ideal location from which to base your activities. Steeped in history, and with parts of its architecture dating back to the late 11th century it appears squeezed between the Minster and the Treasurer’s House. However, once through the hotel’s entrance, the connotation with squeezed ends, and you can enjoy the luxurious, historically romantic ambiance that Greys Court Hotel offers, along with all the modern conveniences you would expect from a high-end establishment.
The Hotel du Vin and Bistro is an impressive Grade II listed building which has been transformed from its darker days as a 19th century orphanage, to a modern luxurious 44 bed boutique hotel. Situated on the edge of the city, it is close enough for a short trip to the racecourse or city centre, yet far enough away to provide that relaxing end to a busy day. With hand-sprung mattresses, sumptuous linen and beautiful bathrooms the suites have a cosy, relaxing appeal. A great little hotel for a business stopover, or celebratory short break.
I have been lucky to have visited and stayed at many luxury hotels around the world in my time, so I thought I had “seen it all” so to speak. That was until I stayed on a recent trip to Madrid at the absolutely beautiful Hotel Santo Mauro in the upmarket district of Chamberí in the North of the city. Read on to find out more about this incredible Autograph Collection hotel.
Background and Concept
Santo Mauro was the former palace complex of the Duke of Santo Mauro who was an influential member of the Madrid elite at the turn of the century. The hotel has been a popular choice with luxury travelers and celebrities for many years and it is without doubt one of the capital’s smartest hotels. The hotel is part of the Autograph Collection (I’ve been in love with this brand ever since I stayed at the Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona and Threadneedles in London).
Santo Mauro is made up of three buildings and a magnificent garden oasis. The main building being the Duke’s former neo-classical palace. The palace has the wow factor from the moment you step in through its doors where your bags are picked up by the porter. The ground floor houses a series of lavish jaw-droppingly decorated ballrooms and reception rooms.
Each room on the ground floor is more over the top than the next one. The Red Room lives up to its name with every shade of red imaginable in use across floors, walls and fabrics. While the Chinese Room next to the Gin bar has a calming soothing quality to it.
Each ballroom is flooded with natural light and furnished with antiques sourced from the collection of Duarte Pinto Coelho a prestigious Portuguese interior designer who lived in Madrid until his death in 2010.
Santo Mauro is located in the district of Chamberí, one of the best addresses in Madrid. The hotel is a twenty min walk and ten minute taxi journey from the Gran Via. Streets in Chamberí are tree-lined and dotted with palatial residences and former palaces. You are away from the tourist areas of the city and next some of the best Tapas restaurants in the city, so make full use of your time here!
In contrast to the over the top style of the ballrooms, the 33 rooms and 16 suites across the palace, stables and annex building have been toned down with tones of greys and taupe, featuring wooden floors and abstract artworks which give the rooms a contemporary clean finish to them.
In true TLE style we had one of the best rooms in the property The Presidential Suite (which I have heard many a celebrity has spent the night in).
The Presidential Suite has two entrances, one into the lounge and one into the reception foyer of the suite. This grand lounge space, has two sofas, a dining table, smart TV and bluetooth sound system as well as well stocked minibar.
There is a Nespresso Machine, how can anyone live without out one now!
Once we were settled into the suite a surprise platter of fresh fruit was delivered to the door.
The bedroom has a gigantic kingsize bed, which you can almost get lost in and super dressing table area made out of marble, across from the bed is the smart tv and luggage table and there are a couple of arm chairs on the other side of the room next to the entrance to the bathroom.
In the suite’s entrance foyer, there is a his and hers wardrobe system as well as a substantial set of drawers to keep your clothes in.
The suite is amazing, but the bathroom was incredible, not many places have a jacuzzi for two set into the middle of the room in addition to a large walk in shower area and twin sinks.
Amenities are by luxury cosmetics brand Natura Bissie and there is also a little goody bag packed with handmade bathroom treats by Diana Burillo (I loved the Himalayan bath salts and handmade lip moisturiser).
Food and Drink
The hotel’s restaurant La Biblioteca is housed in the former library of the palace and serves a range of Spanish inspired dishes. While the Gin Bar plays homage to Art Deco New York and serves a range of all day snacks as well as some divine cocktails, which I recommend you indulge in!
If you are looking for a hotel pool with a view in Madrid then the Dear Hotel is the place to stay at. Residents of the hotel have access to the roof top pool and bar which offers panoramic views out across the city and up the Gran Via.
We spent one night in the Dear Hotel which is a 4 star property, located on the Gran Via at Plaza de España which is a two second (literally 2 second) walk to the metro station.
This part of the city has a constant buzz of traffic and noise, but rooms are very well sound proofed so you will get a good nights sleep! The Grand Via is a Mecca for shopping and the Dear Hotel is conveniently located within the heart of the shopping district, so ideal as a weekend break location and the areas of Sol, Chueca, Conde Duque, Triball and Malasaña are a short walk away.
The property was designed by interior designer Sandra Tarruella using a pallet of pale greys and natural tones. Floors are oak and furniture is clean and minimalist, heavily influenced by Scandinavian styles. The property is tall and narrow with a very small minimalist designed reception and lobby, so you need head up to the roof to get a slice of the action.
There are 162 rooms, split into various categories, including deluxe, premium and suite options. Some rooms have terraces and most rooms have street views. Suites have coffee machines while standard rooms come with tea and coffee-making facilities. Rooms have nice finishing touches like the open plan wardrobes which fit the Scandi style a bag of fruit and delicious amenities in the bathrooms.
Food and Drink
Breakfast is served up in the Nice To Meet you restaurant on the 14th floor (a great view to start the day off on). If you stay at the hotel you will want to make use of the Sky Lounge and restaurant on this level too. With the Sky Lounge offering the ultimate place in the city for a sunset drink and obligatory Instagram pic by the plunge pool!
Service is efficient at the lobby and “super efficient” at the roof top area (possibly we visited when the staff were overloaded with customers and came across as slightly off-hand with us, but don’t let that put you off).
The Dear Hotel is a great base for a weekend break, it’s very clean and contemporary and offers value for money in what is the heart of Madrid. Rooms have everything you need in them, they are functional rooms, I wouldn’t say they are dripping with finishing touches but the roof top bar and pool really make the hotel special.
Looking for a luxury bolthole in the Scottish Borders then we recommend you head to Thirlestane Castle’s newly unveiled self-catering apartment within the castle building. The new two-bedroom luxury apartment has been created within the Old Servants’ Quarters and is now available for short breaks alongside the existing one-bedroom Lauderdale Apartment.
The apartment has its own private access and exceptional views of the countryside, offering unrivalled accommodation, in a breath taking romantic castle setting. The rooms have been brought back to life and exquisitely renovated in the South Wing, an area of the castle that was once the old laundries which is nodded to in the design.
The apartment offers a truly authentic castle experience with an eclectic mix of contemporary and original castle furniture and items from the collections including dramatic portraits of former castle residents.
It consists of: a large, light-filled living area with a dining table and fully-equipped kitchen; one double bedroom with en-suite shower room; a second twin/double bedroom; and a separate bathroom. It is accessed from either the same level by the castle gardens or via a private staircase from the enclosed cobbled courtyard that guests are also able to use.
Recently when looking after my dog nephew, Preston, I needed a venue to meet friends that was a little more sophisticated than a pub, but also dog friendly. Potentially an impossible aspiration, until I was told that all the bars at the Red Carnation Hotel group welcomed dogs. We settled on the Cavalry Bar at The Rubens, due to its easy proximity to Victoria.
On arrival we, well actually mainly Preston, were greeted like minor celebrities. A charming doorman swung the heavy doors open and helpful staff ferried us to our table in the bar. The Cavalry Bar has been recently refurbished and there is a homely yet sophisticated feel to the bar with deep maroon leather couches and comfy red and rainbow striped velvet upholstered chairs. The regal feel to the room is no coincidence given that the Ruben’s neighbour is Buckingham Palace, on the opposite side of the road.
As we were handed the extensive drinks menu, silver bowls were being placed down for Preston who was already looking like the canine equivalent of the cat that got the cream. No sooner than we had placed our order for our champagne cocktails, a waiter appeared with a silver tray offering Preston the choice of Pawsecco, wine for cats and dogs or Bottom Sniffer, a beer for dogs (both non alcoholic so your dog can still guide you home in a straight line). After an inquisitive sniff, he seemed to favour the doggie beer. Meanwhile our cocktails named after Kate, Duchess of Cambridge had arrived. This appropriately glamorous looking drink is a mix of Absolute Vodka, Raspberry Liqueur, Lanson champagne and passion fruit. It was delicious.
Preston’s tail went into turbo mode as our attentive waiter appeared back with the silver tray, this time offering three beautiful doggie cup-cakes, complete with tiny dog bone decoration, presented like they had just arrived from the set of the Great British Bake-off. Preston would have probably wolfed them down in one had he been allowed, but we decided to hand them out over the course of the evening and we were given many ‘paw’ high fives in return from a very happy dog.
The doggie cup-cakes had whetted our human appetites and we chose a delicious selection of bar snacks including succulent monkfish scampi, blue cheese croquettes, very tasty Cornish crab cakes and sundried tomato dough balls with a delicious feta and dill mayonnaise. In addition to these bar snacks all patrons are given a generous complimentary selection of olives, mixed nuts, crisps and twiglets with their drinks.
We were lucky enough to be at the bar on the night that the beautiful Sourya was singing. Serenading guests with a repertoire of well-known classic tunes from the past few decades, it was a lovely addition to the evening. There was a mutual admiration between Sourya and Preston, and I believe he was pretty chuffed to make it onto her official Instagram page. Sourya performs at the Cavalry Bar six evenings a week evenings between 6.30 and 10.30pm.
With Preston content and comfortably dozing under the table, we decided to order another round of drinks including an exotic passion fruit mojito served long in a crystal glass, a beautifully crisp Chablis Domaine des Malandes and a glass of champagne. The wine list at the Cavalry Bar is more than ample with a good selection of wines from the Bouchard Finlayson winery in South Africa, a sister property of the Red Carnation Hotels. There is also a good selection of champagne and sparkling wine. However, it would be remiss to visit the Cavalry Bar and not indulge in one of the fabulous cocktails, whether that be a classic martini or a regal Prince William combining VS brandy, peach liqueur and Lanson Champagne or a Ruben’s signature such as Ruby Red with Remy Martin VSOP, Chambord and Rooibos tea.
Preston and I had a wonderful evening at the Cavalry Bar, we both walked out with a bounce to our step having been thoroughly spoilt by the lovely team at The Rubens. It is the perfect place to go for a special night out, a pre-dinner or theatre drink and (I may be getting old) an acoustic ambience where you can actually hear your companions speak.
Plus, I can’t recommend it enough as a special treat for dog owners, where they can enjoy a special evening with their your four legged friends.
Cocktails at the Cavalry Bar are £16, Wine starts from £9 a glass and Champagne at £18 a glass. Bar snacks served in the evening start from £6 and stone baked pizza and panini’s are also on offer from £16.
All Red Carnation Hotels also allow dogs to stay for the night and special packages are available for VIPs (Very Important Pets) including a dedicated pets menu. For further details visit www.rubenshotel.com/about/pets
Found within the city’s former public library, this luxury boutique property maintains the spirit of the original building, whilst providing a thoroughly contemporary environment for both leisure and business visitors to the city and residents alike.
This week’s Hotel Spotlight is on the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
This 122-room boutique-style property is part of the Hyatt group. It’s located in the vibrant canal district, on Prinsengracht, close to the trendy Jordaan district and within easy access to the museum quarter.
The Andaz Amsterdam design is the result of a collaboration with Dutch designer Marcel Wanders who has brought a bold, striking and contemporary style to the property. The adventurous spirit of the Dutch is reflected in cutting-edge design, a notable collection of some 50 video art installations and bold signature design elements.
The lobby lounge sets the tone for the hotel with a sociable modern and open style. There is a library too, a nod to the buildings former use, a relaxed space where you can also enjoy complimentary refreshments and wine in the evening.
The Bluespoon Bar, with charming canal view, is the place for international and Dutch signature cocktails.
The lively and relaxed Bluespoon Restaurant offers uncomplicated, farm-to-table dining.
Wellbeing facilities include The Spa and a gym – and the trainers can help with sharing jogging routes in the canal district and the hotel offers a weekly complimentary bike tour to showcase the area.
Guest rooms include garden and canal view options and stylish suites.
The hotel also caters for business travellers and events with a flexible collection of meeting spaces.