You don’t have to spend a fortune to stay somewhere fab. Here are our top chic places in the UK for under £100 a night.
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The Bear, Hay-on-Wye
A quiet, three-room B&B in a former 16th-century coaching inn, the Bear offers modern Welsh style – wrought iron beds with colourful Welsh blankets, antique and midcentury furniture and hip ceramics. Breakfast of homemade beans on toast and sweet sharp rhubarb compote with yoghurt should start the day off nicely, served in the lounge with woodburner and smart grey sofas.
• 01497 821 302, thebearhay.com. Doubles from £70 B&B
The Elmfield, Ilfracombe
You can dress up a hotel with antiques and swaggery, but if everyone’s whispering, who’s having a good time? At the Elmfield, kids are laughing in the garden or summer house, teenagers are eating popcorn on big sofas, watching a movie … and later on, when the baby-listening devices have been set, grownups are chattering in the bar. Parents can relax at this family-friendly hotel. Of course, it’s quieter in term-time, and then you’ll stand a good chance of getting a bit of peace for an early morning swim in the indoor pool.
• 01271 863 377, theelmfield.com. Doubles from £65
This hotel does what it says on the tin. Within moments, you can hit Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar, or fashion bastion Cricket in the Cavern Quarter, or even (wearing flats, mind) head down to Albert Dock to catch the Chagall exhibition, at Tate Liverpool until 6 October. This hotel “edits out” what it regards as unwanted extras, so if you want breakfast in your PJs you pay £6 extra and it’s delivered, in a box, the night before. And I can vouch for a decent night’s sleep.
• 0151 705 2626, base2stay.com. Doubles from £59
The ultimate symbol of the gentrification Clapton, Russell’s is the first and only boutique hotel in this increasingly hip area of east London. A bargain option for those wanting to spend their time east side (it’s quite a way out of town) but very near trendy Chatsworth Road market, the small pad has six rooms with wooden floorboards, exposed-brick fireplaces, Welsh blankets and midcentury furniture. It’s a favourite of music industry people and arty types.
• 0797 666 9906, russellsofclapton.com. Doubles from £85
Berkeley Square Hotel, Bristol
Bristol hotel rooms are in demand during the week, but prices can drop dramatically on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at this Georgian secret on an elegant square. It is in a row of Grade II-listed houses just off Park Street, and guests can use a members-only cocktail club in the basement.
• 0117 925 4000, cliftonhotels.com. Doubles from £96
If you’ve travelled way down to Weymouth, you want to be on the beach, right? At B+B Weymouth, you are. The only thing to toss up is whether to take the car or travel by rail – parking in Weymouth in high season, at least, can be a pain, even though this pet-friendly B&B thoughtfully provides permits, which can (and must) be reserved in advance. Many of the 22 understated, unadorned rooms in this Grade II-listed Georgian building have sea views and fabulous light. The ground-floor cafe is modern, canteen-like and serves a decent breakfast.
• 01305 761190, bb-weymouth.com. Doubles from £55
Cathedral Quarter, Derby
With its heart-of-the-city location, in the historic cathedral district, this hotel tends to be busy midweek, with bargains at weekends. The building used to be magistrates’ chambers, and one cannot help feeling slightly awestruck at the baroque grandeur of the marble and alabaster lobby. A former cell in the basement has been turned into a spa steam room, there is a cocktail bar on the ground floor, and the first-floor restaurant is in yet more opulent surroundings, with oak panelling and ornate plasterwork.
• 01332 546080, thefinessecollection.com. Doubles from £65 B&B
I have a fondness for this 73-room hotel (with one step-free accessible room on each floor). Who would have thought a modern, no-frills enterprise in a regenerating (but, blissfully, not completely gentrified) area of Brum would grab such attention when it opened in 2011? It did so because it was unorthodox: inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, the rooms were manufactured off-site then stacked in situ, with the hotel’s exterior shell constructed around them. I love the smoked-glass shower rooms, but not the vending machine refreshments.
• 0121 212 1223, blochotels.com. Doubles from £45
Big Sleep, Cheltenham
There’s always something on here – races, or any number of crowd-pulling festivals – and finding an affordable bed amid Cheltenham’s Regency elegance is not easy. The Big Sleep is created from former Inland Revenue offices, and decor is largely monochrome. Still, there are rooms to suit everyone, from groups of twentysomethings to young families, perhaps attracted by the annual Science Festival, or racegoers requiring disabled access. Continental breakfast is served in the ground-floor cafe.
• 01242 696999, thebigsleephotel.com. Doubles from £55
Yotel, Gatwick airport
When Yotel launched at Gatwick in summer 2007, it was the first hotel to open within a UK airport terminal. No shuttle buses, no faffing. Not an obvious choice, perhaps, for inclusion in a boutique hotel selection, but the brand is so cool, it is an experience in its own right. Pod-like rooms have been modelled on first-class aeroplane cabins, with a techno-wall screen from which to order food and create a personalised music playlist. Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol and Yotel in midtown Manhattan have subsequently opened.
• 020-7100 1100, yotel.com. Doubles from £80
Blue Lion Inn, East Witton, North Yorkshire
This North Yorkshire institution has 15 contemporary bedrooms, some in converted stables. While most cheap-and-chic hotels are busy omitting creature comforts to keep costs down, the Blue Lion delivers a comfortable stay with frills – a cracking breakfast, for one. Whether or not you can eat it is another matter: the restaurant is a destination in its own right, and you won’t have been able to stint at dinner.
• 01969 624273, thebluelion.co.uk. Petite double £94, other rooms from £109
Mor Lodge, Newquay
Surf lodges are coming of age and going boutique – and here is proof that one no longer has to bed down with 15 snoring mates to squeeze in one last surf break. This modern offering has plenty of en suite double and twin rooms (there are bunks, too). Design is bright and modern, and the bar serves stone-baked pizzas all day. It also has a games room and surf school.
• 01637 877776, morlodge.com. Doubles from £44, room-only
Quidhampton Mill, Wilton, Wiltshire
This five-AA-star B&B looks out over water meadows and the river Wylye. It has three beautiful rooms, free of the usual B&B standards – no curtain tie-backs or floral valances; instead, the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball, there are iPod docks and a “Just in case” tin, full of the little essentials you might have forgotten to pack.
• 01722 741171, quidhamptonmill.co.uk. The Cabin £90, other rooms from £100
If your budget doesn’t stretch to £200 for five-star luxury at the Balmoral, compensate cleverly. Back in May, this 72-room, no-frills hotel opened on the site of a former Travelodge on Shandwick Place, and you couldn’t be better placed to discover Edinburgh. The city handsomely rewards walkers, whether strolling along the Water of Leith to the Botanic Gardens, the bars and cafes of Stockbridge, exploring the ordered elegance of the New Town, or heading up to the castle and the historic Grassmarket. Breakfast costs extra, but you can eat takeaways in the dining room.
• 0131 229 6871, cityroomz.com. Doubles from £55 room-only.
In late November, the company that practically invented the Brit boutique concept (when it launched in Edinburgh 19 years ago) is bringing it back home, with hotel number 13, opening in Dundee. The new Mal is in an iconic former temperance hotel, built of sandstone, overlooking the river Tay. It was opened by the Mather family in 1900 and will have 91 rooms, plus signature Malbar and brasserie with Josper grill.
• 01382 339316, malmaison.com. From £99 room-only
Mhor 84 Motel, Balquhidder, Perthshire
Urban locations always attract budget chains, but Mhor 84 Motel is proof that you can find a cool contemporary room off the beaten track, too. There are just seven rooms-with-a-view on offer here, including a family room. The modern motel has been created in a former trad hotel beside the A84 north of Callander, the largest town in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park. The family behind the motel created the Mhor shops there – Mhor Bread and Mhor Fish – and the pricier Monachyle Mhor hotel, on the banks of Loch Voil. Let’s have Mhor, I say.
• 01877 384646, mhor.net/mhor-84. Doubles from £60 room-only
Brown’s, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire
Cool, contemporary rooms above the tavern in which Dylan Thomas once imbibed are perfect for a short break. This 18th-century townhouse may have a Grade II-listed bar but it is as relaxed and unpretentious as you like. The smart Reading Room across the hall is packed with Thomas-related books, and when you want to eat, stone-baked pizzas are on the menu over the road at The Three Mariners, which is under the same management.
• 01994 427688, browns-hotel.co.uk. Doubles from £85 a night
Castle Hotel, Aberaeron, Ceredigion
If you have never been to Aberaeron, it should really go on your bucket – as well as budget – list. There is so much to love about this small, former shipbuilding town in the west of Wales, with its characteristic pastel houses and dainty harbour. And this month, the Castle Hotel, which has six simple rooms (a mix of doubles and twins), relaunches its restaurant with new menus that put Cardigan Bay produce at their heart. You’ve just missed the annual seafood festival, but there’s still plenty of dressed crab to be had.
• 01545 570205, castle-hotel-aberaeron.co.uk. Doubles from £90
Ten Square, Belfast
Belfast’s first boutique hotel opened in 2000, in Grade I-listed Yorkshire House, a former linen warehouse built in 1862. Ten Square has 22 rooms and is right behind City Hall, overlooking Donegall Square and Linenhall Street. The Grill Room restaurant and bar buzz with city residents chilling over strawberry daiquiris and bang bang chicken. Unsurprisingly, the best deals are on Sunday nights.
• 028 9024 1001, tensquare.co.uk. Doubles from £85 room-only