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Now that travel restrictions in Europe have been lifted and Frasers Hospitality properties in England and Scotland are open again, isn’t it time to delight in the best of British heritage at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, and savour their warm hospitality?
Malmaison is famed for its stylish rooms and intoxicating bars, while Hotel du Vin is synonymous with fine dining and extensive wine lists. For those heading to the UK, here’s how you can enjoy the best city breaks for summer holidays with sumptuous rooms and classic menus. And while you’re there, why not check out some unforgettable festivals in the city too?
Hotel du Vin’s 19 luxury boutique hotels in the UK stand out for their refreshing combination of style and hospitality. The chic rooms in bold colours represent unstuffy luxury, with the inviting interiors matched only by the chain’s solid reputation for fine wines and definitive French-influenced dining.
This grand Victorian building was originally a medical spa that opened in 1898, drawing up the therapeutic waters of the hot springs below. Today, it is a Grade II-listed building, which means it is of special interest and warrants every effort to preserve it.
Everything about the property is awe-inspiring. Inside are beautiful stained-glass windows and austere marble staircases. Outside, there is the elegant Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s greatest architectural accomplishments.
From the vast terrace of the hotel’s White Lion Bar, soak in the spectacular view of the bridge, canyon, River Avon far below and distant Somerset Hills.
Another reason to visit is the picturesque dining, of which there are many options. Order a pint of local ale, accompanied by a burger or pizza to enjoy the panorama from the terrace.
Or from the main restaurant Goram & Vincent, with its bridge-facing glass walls and balcony. On the menu are the famous steaks slow-cooked using grills, clay ovens and a smoker, and – as expected of every Hotel du Vin property – the extensive array of wines.
Close by is The Lounge, a haunt with sofas and goofy artworks (for example, 18th-century lords and ladies reading Playboy or listening to iPods), where you can relax over champagne afternoon teas and more fine wines.
Even when dinner is over, you can enjoy more wonderful views of the bridge or Clifton Village from the spacious bedrooms and suites, outfitted with splashes of bright colour, espresso machines and white-tiled bathrooms with sumptuous rainfall showers.
Unforgettable Festival: Make your stay at Hotel du Vin Bristol Avon Gorge extra special by coinciding it with Balloon Fiesta, Europe’s largest annual hot-air balloon event. Held every August just south-west of the Bristol city centre at the Ashton Court country estate, tickets are usually available on the day and entry is free.
The luxury Hotel du Vin Bristol City Centre is a former 18th-century cane sugar warehouse located in Bristol’s old town, close to the waterfront. In the early 1700s to mid-1800s, Bristol was a sugar refining centre with more than 20 refineries processing product imported from Caribbean plantations. Much of the hotel’s Georgian character has been preserved – think high ceilings, red brickwork, cast-iron pillars and pulleys.
Among this former warehouse’s 40 rooms and suites is one of the most glamorous spaces – the duplex Perrier Jouet, a double-height loft suite which includes a headboard with illuminated champagne bottles. But the best loft suite has to be Harvey’s, which boasts a French window-accessed roof terrace.
The “Sugar House” – as the building is known – promises a warm, inviting atmosphere in its cosy, leather-stooled bar, where cigars and classic cocktails support a simple food menu. But if you’d rather sip some wine, the resident sommelier will guide guests through an extensive list.
Dinner can be enjoyed out on a flagstone courtyard or inside the trademark Bistro du Vin, whose stylish room has restored fireplaces and walls lined with whimsical artworks.
The affordable restaurant has an AA rosette and serves seasonal produce, which mixes French and British influences – everything from racks of Yorkshire Dales lamb to crème brulee with vanilla custard. Extremely naughty cream teas – which go heavy on the scones and strawberry preserve – are also served, with bottles of fizz at the ready.
Unforgettable Festival: Perhaps the most idyllic way to experience Bristol is during Bristol Walk Fest, the month-long walking festival that offers a choice of more than 250 ways to explore the city and the surrounding region on foot.
In the historic heart of the Scottish capital, the Hotel du Vin can be found in a quiet lane just off the Old Mile. Dating to 1743, this building has had quite a history, previously serving as a poorhouse, asylum and science lab before finally morphing into a luxury hotel with 47 rooms and suites.
Designed in Old Town style, with some parts of its original brickwork preserved while others inside are exposed. There are also nostalgic touches of tartan and slabs of original 18th-century stone.
To best enjoy any stay in Edinburgh, start your morning with a relaxed breakfast featuring granola pots and open omelettes cooked to order, while delectable afternoon teas can be enjoyed in an attractive central courtyard during summer months.
In the evening, lights dim, candles are lit and the bistro lives up to its name by dint of an enterprising, zesty seasonal menu. Expertly cooked examples include sweetcorn and courgette fritters and lemon meringue cheesecake with elderflower jus.
Supporting all this wonderful food is the typically impressive Hotel du Vin wine list. Cocktails are also available, with two specialist venues – the Whisky Snug bistro and outdoor Cigar Bothy.
Unforgettable Festival: Heading to Europe in the summer? Edinburgh is of course where one finds the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and the Royal Mile is the hub of this massive three-week-long event. With 3,300-odd shows ranging from theatre, spoken word and comedy to cabaret, dance and musical, tickets are available in instalments and there are numerous street performances too.
This stunning property is more than 300 years old and occupies a former brewery in a scenic location by the river. Just a two-minute walk from the town centre and its stone streets, its 43 rooms and suites are venerably tranquil with the industrial features (the sack hoist canopy, pulleys and cradles) matched by the handsome original-period details seen in the iron stairways and chunky roof beams.
With muted, soothing hues and River Thames views from many windows, the ambience is infused with the 12th-century charm of Henley-on-Thames and the slumberous valley amid the Chiltern Hills. Accompanying all that history is a plethora of dining and drinking options.
First, the three bars – one outdoors, full of light, majoring in champagne; another a pewter-topped affair boasting a 600-strong wine list; and finally, a low-beamed, sofa-lined snug. You can also enjoy your drink in a large courtyard, and relish a habano in the Cigar Bothy.
Next, the restaurant. The relaxed Bistro du Vin excels in seasonal French-British dishes, with classic options like navarins (ragouts) of mutton or grilled octopus. The sommelier is always on hand to suggest wine pairings from that tome-like list of tipples, including the delectable cheese trolley. Of course you can also choose to take lunch alfresco in the courtyard.
Unforgettable Festival: Most visitors flock to Henley in early July for its annual five-day Royal Regatta rowing extravaganza, an unapologetic exercise in upper-class British pomp and finery, which this year turns 180 years old.
Tickets for the public-access Regatta Enclosure, home to an open grandstand and dining area, sell out in advance, especially on the weekends. Just take note of the formal dress code. The same applies to Fawley Meadows, where pleasure cruises and live music are promised.
Malmaison’s 16 city-centre properties in the UK are housed in iconic buildings with stylishly eclectic rooms that promise mood lighting, delicious bites and as expected, great wines.
The brand is also associated with other luxuries, such as 24-hour room service, and complemented by vibrant MalBar cocktail dens and inventive brasseries.
Located beside Reading station, this boutique hotel once offered a convenient base for rail passengers – especially those travelling to or from London Paddington – and little more. It opened in 1844, just after the Great Western Railway started operating its London service.
Malmaison Reading is the oldest surviving station hotel in the world. Built from buff bricks with Bath Stone dressings, it perfectly retains the style and decadence of the golden age of rail travel.
Today, the hotel offers 75 rooms from which to explore the riverside town of Reading, as well as a delectable range of food and drink.
Its Chez Mal is one of Reading’s coolest cocktail bars, with red-painted piping and neon wall motifs. The wine list here is world-class, and supplemented by a range of craft beers. If you are more inclined towards mixology, you have to have the flagship Malchemy cocktail (every Malmaison has its own regionally inspired potion). Called Paddington’s Martini, it blends Absolut Mandarin, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, orange, lemon and, in homage to the fictional bear, a spoonful of marmalade.
Then there’s the dusky Chez Mal brasserie, which used to be the station’s tearoom. Its exposed brickwork is the setting for locally-sourced English fare with a contemporary French twist. Steaks are a menu stalwart, supported by burgers and vintage English countryside lamb. Hanging filament bulbs and custom-made artwork lend more personality.
Unforgettable Festival: When in Reading, you have to drop in at the world’s oldest popular music festival. The annual Reading Festival began as a jazz event in 1961 but has since morphed into an outdoor rock extravaganza that features big names. Act fast as tickets sell out quickly for the August festival.
Malmaison’s outpost in Edinburgh occupies a former Seamen’s Mission in the city’s port of Leith, where a hipster vibe and Michelin-starred restaurants have colonised old warehouses.
The harbourfront Victorian building with 100 rooms and suites has fine views of the docks and is close to plenty of bars, independent shops and the Royal Yacht Britannia – used in the Netflix smash The Crown – and the Royal Botanic Garden.
Edinburgh Castle and the fabled Royal Mile are a 10-minute taxi ride or bus ride away. Otherwise, take a slow-paced, pretty walk along Water of Leith river.
To unwind at the end of a long day, there is no better place than Malmaison Edinburgh’s Leith Shore-facing bar. Here, wine-tasting can be hosted by a chief sommelier. Cocktails, bottles of bubbly and beers stand ready for anyone not an oenophile. Alternatively, afternoon tea awaits those determined on decadence – after all, you can always sweat off any calories in the hotel’s gym.
Menus in the Chez Mal brasserie, blending modern and French flavours, feature various fresh seafood dishes to complement the waterside setting, such as seared salmon steaks, tuna tartar and a trademark lobster risotto. Continental breakfasts usually star homemade banana bread.
Unforgettable Festival: Edinburgh is more than just about the famed Festival Fringe. Check out other offerings like the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Jazz & Blues Fest, Art Fest and many others.
What better way to soak in a classic British summer than with the historical and epicurean attractions that Malmaison and Hotel du Vin have to offer? If you’re visiting us soon, be sure to check out how our properties have prepared to welcome you back safely at both Malmaison and Hotel du Vin.