Despite the challenges facing the hospitality industry, it’s business as usual for some enterprising hoteliers – in fact 2020 has been something of a bumper year for exciting new openings. Our list of eight new hotels reveals a trend for rejuvenating listed landmark buildings: three are Grade I listed; the only new-build among them is designed by Norman Foster. Other trends include the use of moody blue decor, florid wallpapers, velvets, dog-friendly rooms and, of course, social distancing. Only one has a Big Ben rocket taking off in the lobby (see below). Read on to find out which one has a salt cave.

nhow, London 
Opened January 2020. 

This East London babe (the latest in nhow’s international chain of ‘inspirational lifestyle hotels’) takes up eight floors of a glassy high-rise in Shoreditch designed by Norman Foster and Partners. Inside, the designers have combined a mad palette of acid-house colours with neon, bold patterns, tongue-in-cheek Britishness and a dollop of anarchy: imagine if a load of props designers were let loose on the lobby (love the Big Ben rocket sculpture, first picture above) and Banksy got into some of the rooms with a spray can (he hasn’t, but that’s the drift). Most of the rooms are quite conventional in terms of layout, but you get Henry VIII in the bathroom (Queen Anne or James II – take your pick), London maps on the lamp shades, paint-splatter prints on wing-back chairs, lots of lime greens, orange and red-white-and-blues. It’s fun and, for London, it’s not expensive. Dogs – and cats – are allowed and there is pre-bookable parking at extra cost. nhow London.

The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall
Opened July 2020

A Grade II listed mansion set in five acres of north-coast Cornwall, this is the seventh hotel in the PIG group – described by the owner as a ‘personal collection of small lifestyle restaurants with rooms’. This one, like its older sisters, offers a country house experience without the stuffy formalities, big on food provenance (local, home-grown, foraged) and beautiful, comfortable spaces. Maps and maritime paintings hang on moody blue and dark grey walls alongside raw stonework, flagstones, open fires, velvety sofas and antique furniture. Similar features spill into the bedrooms which come in a bewildering choice of categories ranging from the very honest Extremely Small to the Big Comfy Luxe with Terrace. In the grounds (in which lawns and organic kitchen gardens rub shoulders with fields) there are four luxury shepherds’ huts (or ‘garden wagons’). Padstow, Rock and Polzeath are close by, and the beach at Harlyn Bay is just ten minutes on foot. Prices from £150 per night (midweek).

Bike and Boot, Scarborough
Opened July 2020

As the name suggests, Scarborough’s bright young thing is designed to attract walkers and cyclists (with or without their doggy companions) but if you are thinking bunk beds in a sweaty hostel, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. A conversion of the former Mount Hotel on the Yorkshire resort’s Victorian seafront, Bike and Boot is more boutique surf lodge than hostel. In true hostel style, there is an area to store bikes and surfboards or wash dogs (they really seem to like dogs here), but the décor is all jolly posters and jelly-bean colours, there is a bar-restaurant-café (it’s called Bareca), double rooms with sea views and reasonable prices. B&B from £58 (canine guests cost an extra £15).

The George, Cheltenham 
Opened August 2020. 

An offshoot of Cotswold hospitality enterprise Lucky Onion, this is billed as the first in a new group of ‘Cult’ hotels and, they say, a new concept. With Covid 19 at the forefront of its thinking, social distancing is built into its DNA, as is automated check in, drop-and-go check out and contactless services (like the help-yourself Pantry). The George’s 46 bedrooms are housed in a row of five Grade II listed townhouses close to Cheltenham Ladies College. The marketing puts a lot of emphasis on the neighbourhood (‘live like a local’), the rooms are premium and the décor is a modern take on Regency (original plasterwork and panelling meets bold colours and industrial brick tiles) and the room rates are affordable. From £90 a night.

Hotel Indigo, Bath
Opened September 2020

This beauty is the latest addition to the City of Bath’s growing collection of lush boutique hotels (No. 15 Great Pulteney, Eight, The Bird and Broad Street Townhouse among others). With 166 rooms, IHG’s Indigo might be a little too large to be accurately described as ‘boutique’ but the style is deliberately youthful and arty and the nature of the place allows for the kind of twists and quirks that you don’t get in big corporate new-builds. The raw material is a row of Grade I listed, Georgian townhouses on South Parade; the combo of contemporary and classic matches bold colours, roll top tubs, wallpapers, velvets and vintage with original features; and there are five different room styles: Georgian Architecture, Literary Hideout, Romance and Mischief, Garden (pictured) and Vault. The hotel’s restaurant, The Elder, is a ‘field to fork’, wild game number, independently run by restaurateur Mike Robinson. Rooms from £149. hotelindigo. For more on Bath hotels check out visitbath.

The King’s Arms, Dorchester
Opened September 2020

A typical market-town hostelry with history, the King’s Arms was a bit of a dinosaur before the Stay Original Company bought the place, spent a load of dosh on doing it up and reopened with a fresh new look, 20 upgraded bedrooms (14 more to come) and a Dorset-flavoured menu with a River Cottage heritage. The 300-year-old building is a much-loved Dorchester landmark (Thomas Hardy was a regular) and the new owners have done a great job of sprucing it up without losing its atmosphere (think fireplaces, panelling, wood floors and antique furniture). B&B from £95.

Buxton Crescent Health Spa, Derbyshire
Opened September 2020

The redevelopment of the Crescent in Buxton has been under discussion for nearly 20 years, and it’s finally come to pass – perhaps not the best time for it, but better now than never. The £70 million project restores the Grade I listed, gritstone terrace (dated 1789 and as architecturally significant as any of Bath’s finest) combining an 80-bedroom hotel, a wellness spa, visitor experience, and fancy period Assembly Rooms – more or less what the fifth Duke of Devonshire intended when he commissioned the Crescent’s architect John Carr as part of his vision for the Derbyshire town.  Like Bath, Buxton is blessed with thermal springs (gushing from the ground at a natural 27.5 degrees); wallowing in warm, curative mineral water is a key part of the new hotel’s five-star experience (think roof-top pool, spa baths, ice fountain and a salt cave, pictured). The Buxton Crescent is part of the Ensana group which has spa hotels in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  Buxton Crescent

Artist Residence, Bristol:
Opening November 2020.

The suspense is killing me. The fifth Artist Residence was originally due to open in summer 2019. Bristol was excited: the hotel micro chain is a perfect match for the city (creative, independent, unconventional), but despite two press previews last year (the rooms looked almost ready to go), we still don’t have an opening date – did somebody say November? On Portland Square, between Stokes Croft and the shopping centre, the building was a Grade I listed Georgian townhouse conjoined to an old and almost derelict Boot Factory; there was a lot to do and the project was already behind schedule when Covid came along. When it finally opens, the hotel’s multi-functional bar-and-beverage concept will offer an all-day neighbourhood space (from coffee to cocktails). The rooms (Shoebox, Boot Room, vast Artist Suite, pictured) mix modern, vintage and upcycled with magnificent Georgian features. I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.

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