Ten of the best ghostly tours and haunted houses in Britain

Get ready to be spooked this Halloween with these spine-chilling experiences and haunted houses.

 

5 chilling experiences

 

For The Love Of Horror – Manchester, north-west England

Your nerves will be stretched to their very limit as you explore a new creepy experience from Monopoly Events, who will transfer the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester into a chilling immersive attraction that will make you quake in your boots! Dare you enter the Nightmare Zone, where you’ll be greeted by horror movies’ most frightening characters, before you attempt to battle your way through a zombie outbreak? Meet those real-life creatures that always crop up in horror films, the tarantulas and cockroaches to snakes, before you heroically move on to a ‘mad monster after party’ and experiencing all the other horror attractions. Prove to friends and family you survived it all with a snap in the interactive ‘exorcist’ photo booth.

 

Wicked Nights at Blackgang Chine – Isle of Wight, south England

Walk through a ‘land of twisted imagination’ at amusement park Blackgang Chine’s new horror event, Wicked Nights at the Cursed Mill. Pluck up all your courage as you approach hair-raising live action experiences and scream like you’ve never screamed before on the Cliffhanger roller-caster. Still feeling brave? Hop on board the sinister ghost train before keeping your wits about you as you compete in games and activities at the Freaky Fair.

 

Muncaster Castle – Cumbria, north-west England

Muncaster Castle celebrates the spookiest time of the year in a truly ghostly fashion, as befits a castle known to be one of the most haunted in Britain. Don your finest Halloween fancy dress before making your way bravely through the dark and eerie Meadowvole Maze, be prepared to jump out of your skin as you listen to scary tales of fear and terror, and who knows what you might find lurking in the Ghostly Grotto! In between being spooked you’ll be entertained by the Muncaster Monster Cabaret – a mix of conjurors, fire-eating and aerial acts. 

 

Journey to the Underworld – London, England

Are you brave enough to embark on a Journey to the Underworld? This is a journey where you’ll discover the ‘Greatest Love Story Never Told’ at Pedley Street Station in Shoreditch, east London, as Funicular Productions brings a new enigmatic theatre experience to life. Get ready to encounter a thrilling combination that takes you through a story of fantasy, danger, fear, hope and love, as well as feast on a ‘last meal in paradise’ before your journey to the underworld. It’s here you’ll try to outsmart ‘the seductive Gatekeeper, the hunched Harbinger, and the damnable Dark One’.

 

Ghoulies Haunted House – Liverpool, north-west England

After bringing a live-action scare attraction and horror-themed bar to the residents of, and visitors to, Liverpool on a year-round basis it’s unsurprising that Ghoulies Haunted House is upping the scare factor come Halloween. This year, a character that may be innocuously called Kavity the Clown will be roaming the Haunted House, but you can guarantee it will be as scary as clowns get…and with a lot of laughs thrown in. If you enjoy this, come back any time of year to experience the venue’s horror-themed cocktails and events such as Scaryoke Karaoke, the Brain Dead Quiz and Boogeyman Bingo.

 

5 of Britain’s most haunted houses

 

Chillingham Castle, Chillingham, Northumberland, north-east England

Chilling by name and chilling by nature, this 13th-century castle in Northumberland was the scene of bloody battles and eerie intrigue for centuries. Its rooms and gardens are lovely places to explore but to properly experience one of the most haunted castles in Britain, head into its Torture Chamber and join an evening Ghost Tour for a more unnerving encounter.

The Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, west England

For nearly 900 years the Ancient Ram Inn has stood in the Gloucestershire village of Wotton-under-Edge and brings with it stories of a gruesome and bloodthirsty history. Not only that, there have been numerous reports of supernatural events taking place here, making it a frontrunner for spookiest house in Britain. If that doesn’t petrify you, stay overnight here – although whether you’ll get a good night’s sleep is another matter…

Newton House, Dinefwr, Pembrokeshire, west Wales

The gorgeous Dinefwr Estate is a beautiful 18th-century park landscaped by Capability Brown, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tales of ghosts and ghouls roaming the grounds. Newton House, in the centre of the park, has a ghostly visitor each night in the form of Lady Elinor Cavendish. The tale goes that she was betrothed to a man she didn’t love and, when she ran away from him and escaped back to Dinefwr to her family, her suitor strangled her. Visitors should listen out for muffled voices and watch out paranormal activity from the servants’ basement…

St Briavel’s Castle, Gloucestershire, west England

Looked after by English Heritage, this castle is now a youth hostel and if you enjoy the thought of hearing all the creepy tales about this 800-year-old castle, this is the place for you. Maybe you’ll sense the spine-chilling atmosphere as you explore the castle and feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as you read pleading notes carved into the walls by prisoners held here centuries ago.

Glamis Castle, Scotland

Known as one of the most haunted castles in Scotland, Glamis Castle – 20 minutes’ drive from Dundee and, incidentally, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – is said to be home to many spirits…which makes sense when you learn it’s been standing since 1372 and was said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth. There’s many a spooky tale of historic dark deeds to be heard, especially around Halloween on one of its ghostly tours…

 

Accommodation Update - September 2018

Photo credits to Cove Cottage, Cary Arms & Spa

From elegant rooms in the heart of London, to cosy and charming cottages located on the Devon coast, discover new places to stay across the UK. Here we take a look at which accommodation sites are planning to open their doors within the upcoming months, and beyond.

 

RECENTLY OPENED

 

LONDON

 

The Chilworth, Paddington

Opened July 2018

Conveniently located just few minutes away from Paddington station with all its city, regional and international connections, The Chilworth is set in a beautifully refurbished Georgian townhouse and provides an oasis of calm on one of the capital’s characteristic tree lined streets, a short stroll from Hyde Park. With an elegant yet informal atmosphere, the décor blends classical period features with sharp, contemporary design. In the restaurant, the carefully considered menus include elements of health and wellbeing, reflecting a philosophy of nurturing the soul as well as the body. There is also a stylish bar for relaxing with pre or post-dinner drinks, including a range of signature cocktails.

 

The Townhouse Residences at Athenaeum, Mayfair

Opened July 2018

Located on a light-dappled residential side-street, a turn from the Athenaeum’s main entrance and royal Green Park, this elegant mansion was once owned by MP and arts patron Henry Hope. This brand new 14-bedroom accommodation provides a private London base for guests, but with all the benefits and services of a five star hotel. Designed by Martin Hulbert, the creative visionary behind Britain’s most beautiful bolt-holes, the Athenaeum Townhouse Residences demonstrates English eccentricity and charm, and is ideal for exploring the capital’s key landmarks.

 

The Boathouse, Paddington

Opened August 2018

The Boathouse London is a new boutique hotel and event space on an industrial-style barge moored in Floating Pocket Park, Paddington. Launched in partnership with interior design brand MADE.COM and decked out in contemporary Scandi-style décor, it’s available as a one-bedroom hotel or as a unique venue for events such as product launches, yoga brunches and supper clubs. Hotel guests will be greeted by a complimentary Daylesford hamper, given use of two bikes and a rowing boat, and offered bespoke on-board experiences, such as yoga sessions.

 

ENGLAND

 

The Apple Rooms at Houghton Lodge & Gardens, Stockbridge, Hampshire

Opened June 2018

The Apple Rooms is a new luxury self-catering accommodation within the grounds/gardens of historic Houghton Lodge & Gardens. The house is a beautiful 18th century ‘Cottage orné’ on the River Test. The six restored rooms, all named after apple varieties grown in the walled garden, were previously the cowsheds and now beautifully decorated with antique and contemporary furniture and fittings, luxury king or super king size beds, contemporary bathrooms, mini kitchens and outside lawn areas for outdoor eating or barbecues.

 

Loft Apartments at Easton Walled Gardens, Grantham, Lincolnshire

Opened June 2018

Overlooking the beautiful Victorian Stable Courtyard, these three loft apartments are brand new for 2018 at Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire’s very own ‘lost gardens’. The Hay Loft, converted and sensibly designed with a mix of original features and contemporary style, is the largest of the three lofts, with a super-king sized bed and a luxurious bathroom with both a bath and a walk-in shower. The large room is complete with a vaulted ceiling and original trusses on show. There are also two Coach House lofts, each available separately or they can be combined as a whole, giving flexibility to guests travelling with extended family, or with friends.

 

Easton Walled Gardens is part of Hidden England, a consortium of heritage sites all within an hour’s drive of one another with picturesque towns, villages and rolling countryside in between.

 

Chesters Stables, Humshaugh, Northumberland

Opened mid July 2018

Brand new for 2018, Chesters Stables offer eight self-catering Stable Suites in a beautiful Grade II listed building, situated within the grounds of Walwick Hall Country Estate in a village of Humshaugh in Northumberland. Set in 100 acres of beautiful countryside, along Hadrian’s Wall, this Northumbrian gem is a ‘world away from the norm’. Ranging in size, each of the fully refurbished Stable Suites offers a fully-fitted kitchen with dining area, underfloor heating, living areas with toe-warming wood burning stoves, sumptuous sofas, king-sized bedrooms and plenty of room to relax in a luxurious home away from home.

 

The Beverley Arms, Beverley, East Yorkshire

Re-opened July 2018

A fabulous boutique hotel re-opened at the end of July following a two year restoration project. The Beverley Arms was once Beverley’s flagship coaching inn, welcoming guests since the 17th Century. The new-look hotel now boasts 38 bedrooms, a 68-seat restaurant bathed in natural light, plus two private dining/meeting rooms, a modern bar and an outdoor courtyard. Wildlife is also being accommodated at the hotel, with ecological features including bat boxes, swift boxes and a sparrow terrace.

 

New Cottages at Cary Arms & Spa, Devon

Opened July 2018

Sitting majestically in the beautiful Babbacombe Bay on the South Devon coast, the award-winning and dog-friendly Cary Arms & Spa combines all the charm, personality and values of an English “Inn on the Beach” with the beautiful interiors, first class facilities and private gardens and terraces - including the newly opened Bay Cottage and Cove Cottage.

 

Cove Cottage sleeps up to six adults in a luxury master king room with balcony, a second king bed and a twin. All have sea views and contemporary ensuite bathrooms. There is a spacious and stylish drawing room with a large welcoming open fire, a stunning fully fitted kitchen with dining area, leading onto a large private terrace and garden.

 

Bay Cottage is similar in style and character and features one master king and one twin - both ensuite and both with exceptional views - sleeping four adults. There is a beautiful fully fitted kitchen with dining area opening onto the terrace and garden, complemented by an adjoining sitting area as well as a separate drawing room.

 

WALES

 

Caer Rhun Hall, Conwy

Opened August 2018

Nestled in the heart of the Conwy Valley, only a five-minute drive from Surf Snowdonia Adventure Park and a 15-minute drive from the medieval Conwy Castle, the hotel is surrounded by magnificent countryside, with uninterrupted views of the mountains of North Wales and bordering Snowdonia National Park. Every public room has unique features with craftsmanship of an earlier era - including the Tudor panelled hall, elegant Garden Room, Drawing Room and Library. The Library is soon to be renamed the Apothecary and will act as the resident guests’ ‘honesty’ bar. Caer Rhun Hall is ideally located for those looking for walking and cycling adventures.

 

OPENING SOON

 

ENGLAND

 

St Michael’s, Falmouth, Cornwall – look out for the press release

Re-opening autumn 2018

This stylish hotel in Falmouth set in subtropical gardens with sea views and a short walk from the town centre is nearing the completion of a £10 million expansion and re-furbishment, which includes a new luxury spa, health club and beach house with an additional 32 bedrooms. Located in a perfect spot to enjoy beach life on Cornwall’s South East coast and explore Falmouth, where you can find art galleries, shops and great restaurants.

 

SCOTLAND
 

The Fife Arms, Braemar

Opening late November, 2018

The Fife Arms in Braemar is being restored and returned to its former splendour as a first class hotel. Situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, this historic hotel, will be reimaged as a globally acclaimed cultural destination, offering luxury accommodation across 46 bedrooms. The refurbished hotel will include a restaurant with a wood fired grill, two bars, a fire room, library and cinema.

 

NORTHERN IRELAND
 

The Waring Hotel, Belfast

Opening winter 2018

Signature Living, the UK hotel brand launched in 2008, aims to transform the former 1960s War Memorial building into “the ultimate party destination in Belfast” with 64 vibrant bedrooms, including ‘signature suites’ and ‘party rooms’, as well as swimming pools, private bars and other luxurious amenities.

 

LONG LEAD

 

LONDON

 

The Hoxton, Shepherd’s Bush

2020

Hoxton, the design-led accessible brand, has been expanding its international network of hotels with a new opening in Shepherd’s Bush. The new property will join sister hotels already open in London (Shoreditch and Holborn). Subject to planning permission, the 214-bedroom hotel will be developed on the west side of Shepherd’s Bush Green on a site occupied by a 1950’s office building. It will include a restaurant, bar and an events space offering a cultural events programme.

 

Raffles Hotels & Resort, Westminster

2020

One of London’s most significant historic buildings, the Old War Office - once the office of Winston Churchill and sections of the British secret service - is being transformed into a 125-room luxury hotel by Raffles Hotels & Resorts. It will be the company’s first property in Britain, and rooms will include 50 suites and 88 private residences.

 

ENGLAND

 

Eden Project, Cornwall

Eden Project has improved the design of their new hotel, located near St Austell in Cornwall. Eye-catching in its look, the Eden Project hotel has been designed to blend into the countryside and have high standards of accessibility, energy-efficiency and sustainability. The 109-bedroom hotel will include new features including a meadow and orchard that will be planted around the hotel.

Five reasons to visit Britain’s National Parks

July heralds Britain’s National Parks Week (22-29), where an eclectic range of events, from seaside safaris, forest walks, family fun days and treasure trails, take place across our 15 National Parks. All boast diverse and ancient landscapes, communities with rich cultural roots going back thousands of years and are must-visit destinations of natural beauty and tranquillity. Each is unique and special in its own way; here’s why a visit to Britain’s National Parks should be on your itinerary.

 

Cool ways to explore the countryside

Outdoor pursuits are ubiquitous throughout the National Parks, with a huge variety to experience. Enjoy boating? Head to the Broads National Park, where pleasure boating, especially on board a barge, has been part of life through its myriad of inland waterways since the early 19th century. Looking for an activity to get that adrenaline pumping? The Lake District National Park boasts the highest concentration of outdoor activity centres in the UK – check out Honister, an innovative adventure attraction (and also England’s last working slate mine) for a brilliant buzz. Neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park is famed for its limestone geology, making it one of the best places in the UK for caving and potholing. And the only coastal national park, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in west Wales, is perfect for watersports from coasteering and surfing to sailing and kayaking. 

 

The chance to spot rare wildlife
Bring those binoculars…because the National Parks are home to rare and endangered species of wildlife. Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park – the largest of all the parks – is home to high plateaux with the rarest habitats and is the most southerly site in Europe for snow buntings. In fact, one in four of the UK’s endangered species have their home in this park, such as the golden eagle. Down on England’s east coast, in the Broads National Park, a quarter of Britain’s rarest species have their home here, while around 20 per cent of Wales’ Snowdonia National Park is specially designated by UK and European law to protect its distinctive wildlife. That includes the Snowdon Lily and the Snowdon beetle (both unique to Snowdon). And native wildlife often gives a National Park real character; check out the Dartmoor Ponies, a part of the Dartmoor National Park’s cultural heritage, and the iconic New Forest Ponies roaming free in the woods of the New Forest National Park.

 

Be inspired by contrasting landscapes
There are such varied landscapes within each National Park that depending on which area of each park you’re in you’ll find a wealth of distinctive environments. The Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales, for example, is a mix of caves, gorges and waterfalls, hilltops, cliffs and broad valleys, as well as farmed landscapes, lakes and rivers. While down in the south-west of England, Exmoor National Park is one of heather and grass moors, wooded valleys, wonderful coastal views and upland farms. Exmoor is an International Dark Sky Park, as is Northumberland National Park in the north east of England; plus, the latter’s landscape is so geographically important, there are five Sites of Special Scientific Interest here, such as its volcanic and glacial features.

 

You’ll be stepping onto a film set
You might just recognise some of our National Parks’ landscapes and features from the silver screen, and from the pages of legendary novels and poems. The Peak District National Park in central England, for example, has been used many times as a film location, thanks to its multitude of magnificent stately homes – Chatsworth has starred in Pride & Prejudice, as has Lyme Hall; Haddon Hall was the background setting to Jane Eyre, Elizabeth and Moll Flanders while North Lees Hall, as well as appearing in Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice, starred in The Other Boleyn Girl. Elsewhere, Dartmoor’s landscape appeared in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, while the Lake District is famously the inspiration for Romantic poets Wordsworth and Coleridge and children’s authors Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome.

 

Stay in unique accommodation
You’ll find everything from campsites to charming B&Bs, cosy inns and luxury hotels throughout National Parks, as well as accommodation that’s rather extraordinary. In Scotland’s Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park wild camping is permitted in certain sections, an incredible way to experience the true beauty of the nature. Experience a glamping site with a difference at the North York Moors National Park at La Rosa campsite and stay in gypsy caravans with décor ranging from circus-themed, fairy tale themed, ‘psycho candy’ (all pink) and 1970s funky Africa! At the opposite end of Britain, on the edge of the beautiful South Downs National Park in south England – the country’s youngest national park – you can even stay on a 1964 Routemaster London double decker bus in Blackberry Wood, kitted out with sleeping, kitchen and dining areas!

 

Spotlight on: Peak District National Park

  • The Peak District was the first designated National Park in Britain, in 1951.
  • The park stretches into five counties: Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, meaning it’s accessible from the cities of Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham.
  • With 1,600 miles of public rights of way across footpaths, bridleways and tracks, this is great walking country. Love cycling? Hit the park’s 65 miles of off-road dedicated cycling and walking trails, with cycle-hire centres at Ashbourne, Parsley Hay, Derwent Valley and Middleton Top. It also boasts a treasure trove of disused railways to explore – the park owns 34 miles of them at High Peak Trail, Tissington Trail and Monsal Trail.
  • Head to the medieval market town of Bakewell, home to one of the UK’s most important agricultural markets. Make sure you try its famous Bakewell puddings (flaky pastry base, moist almond and jam filling, said to be invented by lucky mistake by an 18th-century kitchen maid).
  • The National Park has 2,900 listed buildings, including the world-renowned stately homes of Chatsworth, the medieval Haddon Hall, the Norman Peveril Castle, Bakewell’s medieval bridge as well as centuries-old farm-buildings and cottages.
  • There are plenty of interesting villages to explore. Castleton is famous for its caverns, and the “shivering mountain” of Mam Tor, Winnats Pass and Peveril Castle. Then there’s Eyam (“plague village”), Hathersage (reputed grave-site of Robin Hood’s friend Little John), Tideswell (14th century “cathedral of the Peak”), Ilam (Swiss-style architecture), Ashford-in-the-Water (classic English riverside village), and Tissington (Tissington Hall and close to Tissington Trail).
  • The Peak District has a distinctive custom to look out for: well dressing! Originally a pagan ceremony to honour water gods, it’s now a summer tradition in dozens of villages. Different villages decorate their wells or springs with natural, ephemeral pictures made of flowers, petals, seeds, twigs, nuts and berries, pressed into soft clay held in wooden frames. Well dressing weeks also include carnivals and streets decorated with bunting.

8 reasons why Newcastle and the North East are hot right now

The spotlight is shining brightly on Newcastle Gateshead this summer; Rough Guides declared it the top place to visit in 2018 and an epic 80-day exhibition – Great Exhibition of the North – showcasing art, culture, design and innovation from the north of England is coming to town. A visit to the city - just three hours from London and 1.5 hours from Edinburgh by train - also means you’re in easy distance of some of north-east England’s coolest and most intriguing spots to visit.

 

Great Exhibition of the North

A major highlight in the cultural calendar, Great Exhibition of the North opens with a ceremony on 22 June at the Gateshead Quayside, featuring a bridge of illuminated drones over the River Tyne. During the exhibition run, which takes place between 22 June – 9 September, three themed walking routes will guide visitors to venues and attractions: The Get North Art Trail, Get North Design Trail and Get North Innovation Trail. Discover all that is ground-breaking about this part of England and visit iconic venues around Newcastle Gateshead, from the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art to Sage Gateshead.

 

A foodie paradise

With a spate of new restaurant openings, Michelin-star restaurants, comforting street food and everything in between, the city and the surrounding areas are a must-visit for any foodie. For a romantic date or a special celebratory treat, the two-Michelin-star House of Tides fits the bill, while the Quayside has welcomed Dobson & Parnell, with its focus on fine-dining British cuisine and Gateshead has seen the opening of Lola Jeans, which features a menu ‘from barn to board’ and an inspired cocktail list. Check out the neighbourhood of Jesmond for new eateries such as Cal’s Own for Brooklyn-style pizza pie.

 

The hottest nightlife

There’s no party quite like a party in Newcastle Gateshead, a city packed with friendly pubs, stylish cocktail bars, clubs playing the hottest DJ sets and music venues catering to every taste, resulting in its well-deserved reputation as one of England’s best party cities… and one that keeps evolving. Hit the newest hotspots such as Wylam Brewery’s Palace of Arts, where you can catch live music and street food events while enjoying its unique craft beers. For quirky surroundings with your cocktails, head to Alvinos with its array of pinball machines and vintage vinyl records or, for an awesome selection of gin, spend the evening at Pleased To Meet You where you’ll find more than 100 behind the bar.

 

Cool neighbourhoods

Yes, Newcastle’s city centre is bursting with hot bars and stylish restaurants but its hip neighbourhoods of Ouseburn and Jesmond are well worth a visit. Ouseburn is regarded as the birthplace of the industrial revolution in Newcastle and has grown into a creative hotspot over the last few years. Check out England’s largest independent art, craft and The Biscuit Factory for independent art, craft and design gallery, stop by Hoults Yard for live theatre, music festivals and art exhibitions and spend the evening at cool music venue The Cluny. Jesmond has a more elegant vibe, its streets studded with Victorian terraced houses and home to a fantastic range of bars, restaurants and boutique shops. Pack a picnic and head to Jesmond Dene in the summer months, a stunning local beauty spot.

 

Instagrammable landmarks

Sir Antony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North stands at 20 metres high and 54 metres wide and is an outstanding piece of public art. Dominating the Gateshead landscape, stand at the feet of this impressive statue – itself a symbol of pride in north-east England – for an unmissable photo. Marking its 20th anniversary this year will be a range of special events; look out for pop-up #Angel 20 activities and workshops at Gateshead venues.

 

Nearby natural beauty

Sometimes you need a breather from the bright lights – easily found by heading 45 minutes out of town to Northumberland National Park. Come here for its Dark Sky Reserve, for Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a bracing walk or gentle cycle through more than 400 square miles of gorgeous countryside scenery. Newcastle is also close to the Northumberland coast – and what a coast it is! Some of the best beaches in Britain are found here, fringed by impressive backdrops. Check out Bamburgh Castle Beach or Cresswell Beach for unmissable sights of sweeping stretches of sandy beaches that go on for miles.

 

A city of contrast

Just a 12-minute train journey from Newcastle but with a completely different vibe, Durham is one of the most picturesque cities in Britain. A magnificent cathedral and castle dominate the skyline of this city that has its own coastline and countless historical sites and events, including the spectacular Kynren. This ‘Epic Tale of England’ (30 June – 15 September 2018) is an all-action blockbuster show travelling through 2,000 years of history and legend, with 1,000 cast and crew.

 

Living history

North-east England is an area bursting with heritage and history but one of the region’s great skills is bringing that history to life for contemporary audiences. Less than a half-hour drive south of Newcastle, Beamish Outdoor Museum, which tells the story of the region in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s, offers compelling workshops such as driving a steam engine or cooking 1940s-style. And, this summer at Alnwick Castle – 45 minutes-drive north of Newcastle and seen on screen in both Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Downton Abbey – is hosting a range of experiences, from Wizarding Week and Medieval Week to a Knight’s Week and a Napoleonic Skirmish.

Accommodation Update July-October 2017

Britain’s best awarded at the AA Hospitality Awards 2017

The AA has announced the results of its Hospitality Awards 2017, naming its industry gold-standard hotels, pubs and restaurants across Britain. 

The Gainsborough Bath Spa in the south-west took England’s top spot for its 'sophisticated and luxurious experience', while The Douneside House in Aboyne was awarded Scotland’s Hotel of the Year. The Old Inn, Bangor, took first prize for Northern Ireland, praised for its 'untold elegance and grandeur'. Twr Y Felin Hotel, St Davids, won Hotel of the Year Wales, awarded for its 'excellent design and presentation, with noteworthy attention to detail'. Hotel of the Year London went to The Goring; described as 'an icon of British hospitality', it was where Kate Middleton famously got ready for her royal wedding to Prince William.

 

LONDON

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Mandrake, Fitzrovia

Billed as one of central London’s hottest new hotels, this exotic boutique luxury setting (named after a mystical plant) has already hosted London Fashion Week parties. Five years in the making, The Mandrake’s 30 bedrooms and three suites frame a jungle-style inner courtyard of tropical plants. The interior design mixes opulent purples and reds with gold finishes, velvet, feathers, ornate chandeliers and striking artwork. The lavish Mandrake Suite and the Penthouse are sure to be Instagram favourites, the latter clad in white marble with a huge bed and a jacuzzi under a retractable roof. The hotel’s headline restaurant is Serge et le Phoque, by Michelin-starred chef Frédéric Peneau.

 

Opening October 2017: Trafalgar St. James

This classic hotel overlooking Trafalgar Square –which has hosted the likes of Tom Cruise and Nicole Scherzinger – is unveiling its modern new look since joining the Curio Collection by Hilton. A “peer panel” of young Londoners – including lifestyle blogger Lucy Freedman and DJ Doug Marshall – were appointed during the project to give their perspective on everything from furnishings to menus. Trafalgar St. James now has 131 bedrooms, the Trafalgar Dining Rooms, an underground lounge, Biblio, and a 14-cover private dining room. The rooftop bar has great views of Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery. PR contact: hshearer@thecommunicationgroup.co.uk

 

Opening October 2017: The Pilgrm, Paddington

New design hotel The Pilgrm focuses on pared-back urban chic with a vintage touch. There is no lobby or reception desk – instead, guests will be able to check in online. The ground floor café will provide a welcome area, plus a lounge bar and dining room. Interiors showcase the building’s 200-year-old parquet flooring, as well as cast-iron radiators and a “cloud carpet”. The hotel’s 73 rooms come in four sizes: ‘bunk’ (two single beds), small, medium and large. PR contact: Alexandra Berry a.berry@gemmabellandcompany.com

 

Opening October 2017: New Road Hotel, Whitechapel, east London

With its “Everything you need, nothing you don’t” promise, New Road Hotel focuses on stylish stripped-back luxury. Owned by three brothers, the 80-bedroom boutique hotel has been built on the site of an old textile factory where their father once worked. The interiors reflect this heritage, and quirky touches include a rooftop Eco Shed and the Loft + Hot Tub room, with views of London’s skyline. The hotel’s restaurant is by Marco Pierre White, and other features include a fitness studio and social areas where guests can enjoy live music, games and a library.

 

Opening early 2018: Vintry & Mercer, Cannon Street, City of London

Located in London’s historic trading centre near St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard, forthcoming 92-bedroom hotel Vintry & Merceris named after two of the City’s historic professions: vintners, who traded fine wines, and mercers, who sold fine silks. Both trades will be reflected in the hotel’s design. For food and drink, there will be Vintry Kitchen, serving Mediterranean food; rooftop Mercer Terrace; and DND, (Do Not Disturb), an underground cocktail bar.

 

Long-lead

 

Date TBC: Marylebone Lane hotel, Marylebone, central London

A brand new luxury 206-bedroom, nine-storey hotel operated by Shiva Hotels is planned for Marylebone. The proposed hotel will have a spa, swimming pool, café and club lounge.

 

2020: The Hoxton, Shepherd's Bush, west London

Subject to planning permission, the capital will be getting another stylish Hoxton hotel in west London. The new 214-bedroom property will join sister hotels already open in London (Shoreditch and Holborn), and Amsterdam.

 

2020: Raffles Hotels & Resort London, Westminster, central London

One of London’s most significant historic buildings, the Old War Office – once the office of Winston Churchill, and sections of the British secret service – is being transformed into a 125-room luxury hotel by Raffles Hotels & Resorts. It will be the company’s first property in Britain, and rooms will include 50 suites and 88 private residences.

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Now open: The English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace, Westminster, central London

The Rubens at the Palace has opened its new restaurant as part of a five-year, multi-million pound refurbishment. The English Grill’s menu includes a daily roast, carved from a silver trolley at diners’ tables.

 

Opening November 2017: The Coral Room bar at Bloomsbury Hotel, central London

As part of a major refurbishment of the 153-room Bloomsbury Hotel, its new Coral Room bar will be unveiled in November alongside the hotel’s redesigned public spaces. PR contact: chloe.davison@ttc.com

 

SCOTLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square

Following a top-to-toe refurbishment, The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square (formerly The Roxburghe Hotel) has re-opened its doors. One of Edinburgh’s oldest hotels, it’s hosted A-list Hollywood actors and is made up of seven inter-connecting Georgian townhouses in the city’s New Town. The concierge still wears a kilt and vintage red post boxes in the new lobby collect post daily. The 199 elegantly refurbished bedrooms (including 18 suites) are designed with Scottish accents and earthy colours. There is informal all-day-dining at The Garden, and eastern Mediterranean cuisine at BABA restaurant, opening in November. PR contact: georgie.griffiths@theprincipalhotel.com

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Opened September 2017: Sleeperz Hotels, Edinburgh

Budget operator Sleeperz Hotels has launched a new wing at its Cityroomz Edinburgh hotel, accessible via Princes Street. The 43 new bedrooms include superior doubles, family and cabin rooms, as well as ten suites. Flooring in the suite bathrooms is printed with a city street map of Edinburgh. Sleeperz will also be opening a 120-bedroom hotel in Dundee in 2018 opposite the new V&A Museum. PR contact: matthew@honeypotmedia.co.uk

 

Now open: Cameron House, Loch Lomond

Cameron House, the five-AA-star, luxury 36-bedroom resort set on the banks of Loch Lomond, has completed the final phase of its multi–million pound refurbishment. Its new-look rooms and suites have Scotland-inspired features, such as contemporary tartan and handmade leather sleigh beds. The hotel has also announced the launch of its new Cameron Kids offering, treating little ones to their own slice of luxury during their stay.

 

Summer 2018: Ten Hill Place, Edinburgh

Work has started on a 52-bedroom expansion of Ten Hill Place hotel. Owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, hotel profits go back into the college.

 

WALES

 

Long-lead

 

2021: Afan Valley Adventure Resort, Port Talbot, south Wales

Plans have been submitted for a new 480-acre adventure resort in south Wales, which will have a 100-bedroom hotel and spa, plus 400 luxury lodges, and adventures zones, bars, restaurants and retail outlets. The proposed Afan Valley Adventure Resort site is just south of Afan Forest Park. There are plans for five main ‘zones’: Forest, Xtreme, Trails, Zen and Alpine, the last of which will include three different ski slopes. The resort will also be home to the Bear Grylls Survival Academy – a series of challenges and endurance courses designed by the TV survival expert. Other activities will include ice skating, Segway tours, indoor skydiving and surfing, ‘ninja warrior’ training, go-karting, forest zip wires, paintballing and mountain biking. Watch the action-packed teaser film here.

 

SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened August 2017: Beaverbrook, Surrey

The former country home of press baron and politician Lord Beaverbrook has opened as the luxurious Beaverbrook hotel, following a multi-million pound transformation. Just 19 miles from London, the hotel is surrounded by 400 acres of privately owned countryside. Designed by Soho House interiors guru Susie Atkinson, the interiors exude classic opulence, featuring four-poster beds and rich fabrics. Each of the hotel’s 18 rooms and suites have been named after one of the estate’s famous former guests, which include Winston Churchill, James Bond author Ian Fleming, Elizabeth Taylor, and Charlie Chaplin. The hotel also has an Art Deco-style cinema, the glamorous Parrot Bar, a cookery school, and a Japanese restaurant, The Dining Room, headed up by top ex-Nobu chef Taiji Maruyama. By the end of the year the hotel will also have a spa with swimming pools, a hammam and a sauna. PR contact: gemma@gp-associates.com

 

Opened August 2017: Hog Deer Creek, Kent

This summer, Kent safari park Port Lympne Reserve opened its latest accommodation, Hog Deer Creek. The five luxury shepherd huts are designed for couples or families, and located within the park’s Asian Experience, so guests’ neighbours will include roaming Asian animals such as Sambar deer.

 

Opened September 2017: Piggledy Tree House, South Downs National Park

This new four-bed treehouse looks like a forest dwelling straight from the pages of a fairy tale. Designed for adults and kids alike, The Piggledy Tree House is located in Blackberry Wood at the foot of the South Downs National Park near Brighton, and comes with a kitchen and a balcony. Owner Tim fulfilled a childhood dream by building the treehouse, which took three years to complete.

 

Opening March 2018: Room 2, Southampton

Room 2 has confirmed details of its second design-led aparthotel in Southampton, due to open next year. Its 71 studio rooms will feature nautical-inspired designs and come in three sizes: little, regular and large.

 

Long-lead

 

2020: Malmaison, Bournemouth

Next year work will begin on a 100-bedroom Malmaison hotel in the coastal town of Bournemouth. Expected to take around two years to build, the new hotel will include a Chez Mal bar and brasserie, a rooftop bar and terrace overlooking the seafront, a gym, a swimming pool, and beauty rooms.

 

WEST MIDLANDS

 

Long-lead

Autumn 2018: Hawkstone Hall, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Hawkstone Hall, a Georgian country mansion in Shropshire, is being transformed into a 40-bedroom hotel and wedding venue. Refurbishment of the main hall and 12 suites will be complete in summer 2018. By autumn, all works are due to be complete, resulting in a total of 40 suites and bedrooms.

 

SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Re-opened July 2017: De Vere Tortworth Court, Gloucestershire

Victorian countryside mansion De Vere Tortworth Court is now open following its £5-million pound restoration, which has resulted in 11 spacious new suites, bringing the total number of guestrooms and suites in the main house to 55. All of the bedrooms have been refurbished to reflect modern British heritage, incorporating leather, tweed and linen. The largest suite, The Kipling, includes a dining table for six guests and a lounge that can be connected to The Paxton, to form a family suite that spans 129 square metres, overlooking the formal gardens.

 

Opened August 2017: Luxury sea-view suites at Lewinnick Lodge, Cornwall

Lewinnick Lodge has added six new suites to its cliff-top B&B hotel on Pentire Headland, close to Newquay’s Fistral Beach – widely regarded as England’s surfing capital. Each of the rooms has 180-degree coastal views, super-king beds, DAB radios, Bluetooth speakers, smart TVs, homemade biscuits and organic toiletries.

 

YORKSHIRE

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened July 2017: Swinton Country Club & Spa, North Yorkshire

The Good Spa Guide has awarded Swinton Estate’s new Country Club & Spa a five-bubble rating just two months after opening. The new club has a 10-metre outdoor natural water swimming pool and a hot tub, and the fitness team incorporate outdoor activities from the wider estate, such as running, cycling and outdoor yoga. The old Estate Gardener’s cottage has been transformed into a suite of beauty rooms, with signature treatments including the Elemis Garden of England Rose Restore Wrap.

 

Long-lead

 

2019: Bretton Hall, Wakefield, west Yorkshire  

Historic Georgian mansion house Bretton Hall is being transformed into a luxury 120-bedroom hotel and ‘creative campus’, set within 500 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland adjacent to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP). The property’s redevelopment will include two theatres, a seminar space, exhibition area and conferencing facilities, with further accommodation, work and educational spaces planned for future phases.

 

Date TBC: Malmaison, York

Malmaison hotel chain will be opening a new site in York after being granted planning permission earlier this year. The new hotel will have 160 bedrooms and suites, as well as its Chez Mal Bar and Brasserie for cocktails and dining. Malmaison currently has hotels in 15 cities across Britain, including Leeds and Manchester.

 

NORTH-WEST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

2018: Dixie Dean Hotel, Liverpool

A 100-bedroom hotel in honour of Everton footballer Dixie Dean is due to open in Liverpool city centre next year, opposite The Shankly hotel, which similarly celebrates Scottish footballer and manager Bill Shankly (the two men were great friends). The Dixie Dean Hotel will have restaurants, bars and an events space, and showcase memorabilia from the footballer’s career.

 

Long lead

 

Date TBC: Manchester Moxy

Planning permission has been granted for a 145-bedroom Moxy hotel in Manchester’s Spinningfields district. Moxy is Marriot International’s millennial-focused boutique hotel concept, and the new hotel will join one other in London. There are plans for seven more in pipeline, located in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Southampton, Bristol and York.

 

Date TBC: Re-opening of Trafford Park hotel, Manchester

The Trafford Park hotel, built in 1902, is being refurbished and relaunched under an international boutique brand after being derelict for eight years. Plans include an additional wing, which will expand the total bedroom count to 120.

 

Summer 2019: Zetter Hotel, London Road Fire Station, Manchester

Manchester's historic London Road Fire Station is being developed by London-based boutique hotel brand The Zetter Group. The new hotel will be the group’s first in Manchester, and will have on-site restaurants and bars.

 

NORTH-EAST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Cookie Jar, Alnwick, Northumberland

Deborah Cook, wife of the former chief executive of Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and De Vere Hotels, has opened her first solo venture, a luxury boutique hotel overlooking Alnwick Castle. The Cookie Jar has 11 bedrooms and offers quirky treats such as freshly baked cookies and milk. It has initially opened as a bed and breakfast operation, serving coffees, teas and sharing plates from the bar – but there are plans for a restaurant in the near future.

 

NORTHERN IRELAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

September 2017: Titanic Hotel Belfast

Northern Ireland’s much-anticipated luxury Titanic-themed hotel is now open on the site of the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff, shipbuilders of the Titanic over 100 years ago. The 119-bedroom Titanic Hotel Belfast is sister hotel to the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. The interior design includes nautical touches, models of the iconic ship, and old photographs. The hotel’s dining room has views of the slipway where the Titanic was built, and art deco-inspired suites give impressive views of the Belfast Titanic building and the entire Titanic Quarter. There are also corporate and entertainment spaces available for events and conferences. PR contact: jane.williams@jcomms.co.uk

 

Long-lead

 

June 2018: Grand Central Hotel, Belfast  

Work is starting on what will be Belfast’s largest hotel development, the 304-bedroom Grand Central Hotel, Belfast.

 

June 2018:  George Best Hotel, Belfast

The developer of The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool (themed around Liverpool Football Club's legendary Scottish player and manager) is building a new 80-bedroom hotel in Belfast, named after and inspired by Manchester United and Northern Ireland football legend, George Best.