Looming Brexit, lurking drones and environmental responsibility mean holidaying in the UK has never been so appealing. Not to mention the plethora of new openings to entice us:
The Fife Arms, Braemar, Scotland
They turned a ramshackle farm in rural Somerset into the megawatt Hauser & Wirth Gallery. Now co-founders Iwan and Manuela Wirth have opened their next venture – this time a coaching inn in Braemar, up in the Highlands of Scotland. Home to the Braemar Gathering highland games, it was Queen Victoria who put the area firmly on the map when she bought Balmoral Estate just up the road. The railways brought crowds of holidaymakers following in her wake who might have lodged at The Fife Arms. Today of course it looks a little different; with a dazzling cast of architects, designers, craftspeople and artists aiding an extraordinary renovation. Find 46 bedrooms and suites – each individually designed – a jewel box bar, restaurant and on-site pub as well as 12,000 works of art about the place including a Steinway piano creatively reimagined by contemporary artist, Mark Bradford and ‘cubistic’ frescoes by Guillermo Kuitca. If the pennies allow book a Royal Suite that comes with your own sitting room to relax after a day on the hill, or we’d choose a Nature & Poetry Room where Scottish poet Alec Finlay’s words are carved into the headboards.
The Fife Arms, Mar Road, Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Opening rates from £250 for guestrooms and £795 for suites. thefifearms.com
The Standard, King’s Cross, London
Unkindly referred to as ‘the egg box’, this grey monster on the Euston Road is currently under transformation into the UK’s first Standard Hotel set to open in spring 2019. Just across the road from St Pancras, this adds yet another string to the King’s Cross bow, joining neighbours Google, LVMH, UMG and Coal Drops Yard. Anyone who has ever visited the Standard Hotels in New York, LA or Miami will be excited for the first overseas outpost arriving in London. Pulling crowds of locals to the Meatpacking District, the rooftop bar (and loos) boast the best views in Manhattan – something that will be replicated in London with a top-floor destination restaurant accessible via an exterior lift with views over the city.
The Standard, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG. Opening spring 2019. standardhotels.com
Heckfield Place, Hampshire
Last year’s most exciting hotel opening, everyone wants an excuse to visit Heckfield Place. The incentive to wait a little longer before booking is the arrival of the Bothy Spa that’s due to open later this year. A 16,000sq foot space with a 17m indoor pool will add to the heavenly Little Bothy experience where there are all-natural treatments and Bodyism classes on offer. Londoners can visit for lunch and a spa treatment without being a hotel guest. Co-inciding with the spa opening will be the launch of the Heckfield Place members clubs, although further details have not yet been released.
Heckfield Place, Hampshire, RG27 0LD. Rooms from £350 per night, 60 minute massage at the Little Bothy £125, available for guests and non-guests. heckfieldplace.com
The Pig at Bridge Place, Kent
There is something undeniably lovely about The Pig – as welcoming and low key as staying at a friend’s country house, but with the treat-y hotel part thrown in. The five properties in the New Forest, Dorset, Devon, Hampshire and Somerset call themselves ‘restaurants with rooms’ – with emphasis on the menu revolving around produce from their own gardens. Three piglets are joining the litter this year. Most excitingly for Londoners is The Pig at Bridge Place (above). Just a stone’s throw from London, the 17th century manor house sits in the Nailbourne valley – three miles south of Canterbury and will open in May. The bonus about this Pig is that it’s accessible with or without a car via Canterbury station, an hour and a half from London Victoria by direct train. Bookings open in early February – sign up here to be notified when they do – availability will be gone in a flash. Harlyn House near Padstow in Cornwall will open in the autumn and The South Downs Pig will open in 2020.
The Pig at Bridge Place, Bridge, Kent. Rooms from £155 per night thepighotel.com
Eilean Shona, Loch Moidart, Scotland
Vanessa Branson’s Scottish island, Eilean Shona isn’t new, but it is endlessly appealing. Take the Caledonian Sleeper from London and book a stay in the romantic Shepherd’s Cottage – it’s just been re-done and is taking bookings for 2019. The perfect place for a digital detox there is no electricity in the off-grid cottage, cooking is by gas and lighting is by gas lamps, with hot water provided from the stove and drinking water from a private spring. Car-free and utterly remote – access is via a 45 minute walk along the coastal path from the island jetty.
Eilean Shona, Acharacle, Argyll, PH36 4LR, Scotland. 7 nights from £900, eileanshona.com
The Talbot, Yorkshire
If you’ve ever looked longingly at the instagram accounts of Alice Naylor-Leyland and her husband Tom and the idyllic pictures of North Yorkshire where they live, then the opening of The Talbot in Malton provides the perfect excuse to visit. The 17th century coaching inn has been in Tom’s family for many years but is being refurbished in collaboration with Sam and Georgie Permian (previous owners and founders of Cotswold pub and hotel group, The Lucky Onion). There’ll be a cosy bar, restaurant and 26 bedrooms and suites with four-poster beds, rolltop baths and large sash windows. Tom has been working hard to put Malton on the foodie map; The Talbot comes with a new Head Chef, Robert Brittain who will champion local suppliers in the restaurant. Get the full experience by booking a stay during Malton Food Festival which runs 25-26 May 2019, or take a course of food tour with the excellent Malton Cookery School, in new premises from February this year.
The Talbot, Malton, YO17 7AJ. The Talbot re-opens on 4 February, with rooms available to book soon after, from £150 per night B&B. talbotmalton.co.uk