We’ve all done it. Booked a crazy early flight, or a flight that lands so late that you’ll struggle to get the last train from Stansted Airport and across London to get home. It’s taken me years not to trust the ‘oh, it’ll be ok’ thought when booking and settle on one hotel where to stay near Stansted Airport.
I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to step off a plane late at night and walk through the foyer of the Hampton by Hilton hotel. Or, wake up early in the morning between the crisp, fresh sheets and meander over to the Airport check-in desks.
Choosing where to stay in Cappadocia was a tough decision. I’m not being hyper dramatic when I say that I probably spent more time choosing this hotel than I did when I was choosing a wedding dress – and in the end, I made a decision via the less than scientific method of asking Mr Kiwi for two favourites, and flipping a coin. (The hotel, not the dress.)
I love staying in quirky hotels – but they have to carefully tiptoe the line between bland and kitsch, and suit our travelling style. I adore the hotels that have a keen sense of place (it’s also a bonus when they come with animal custodians like our stay with Jasper at the Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall or the Pygmy goat neighbours in Austin, Texas) and are lovely to come back to at the end of the day.
The beautiful Vintry and Mercer hotel has a beautiful sense of place that is obvious from the moment you step over the threshold. With foundations laid on (the fantastically named) Garlick Hill, this newly opened Small Luxury Hotel is full of moments where the local London history permeates. Disclaimer: We were guests of Vintry and Mercer, but all wistful story scraps, allusions to local history and words are very much mine and mine alone.
Located in the historic Vintry Ward, the hotel is inspired by the rich cultural influences of the historic area – where the Vintry Guild traded wines and the Mercer Guild traded in fine fabrics. I adored the references scattered through the hotel to these historic trades, from an evolving menu of wines to bespoke fabrics and old trading maps throughout the 92 individually decorated rooms, hallways and dining spaces. Often hotels struggle with the dance between being a beige box that you sleep in and tourist overload, but here it’s perfectly balanced.
It’s always intriguing to revisit places that you haven’t been for a while – memories are rather ephemeral (*cough* when not blogged *cough*) and in the case of the Royal Lancaster Hotel, a multi-million pound refurbishment has transformed the hotel to my remembrances. This time we gathered in the Island Grill Restaurant on a grey old London day for a taste of their fresh lunchtime menu, overlooking Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park. Disclaimer: We were invited to lunch, but as ever, all thoughts, images and fork twirlings are very much my own.
It’s funny, once I met up in Lancaster Gate (it couldn’t be more handy to the Underground Station) with my ladies who lunch, the thoughts of drizzly, cold skies fair left my head. We settled in at our table (after a quick tour through the hotel and peek into the Park Suite – keep reading for that) and perused the extensive menu.
The honey-stone walls of Oxford city centre conjure all kinds of wishes and whimsy – and each time that I’ve stayed overnight in Oxford, it’s like slipping into an architectural Narnia. Disclaimer: On this visit I was an invited guest of Mercure Hotels and Experience Oxfordshire, but all thoughts and laboured literary metaphors are very much my own.
Oxford is one of those cities that seems unaffected by the passing of time.