Anyone who tried booking a summer break for the weeks following the first tentative steps out of Covid (UK hotels opened on May 17) will know that there’s a huge demand for rooms, especially in, say Cornwall or…anywhere. Thankfully, there is a batch of cracking new hotels gearing up to open for the first time this year. They include the Eden Project’s inaugural venture into accommodation, a new project for the Polizzi family, two fresh-faced Graduates (an American chain specialising in university cities), the first of a roadside motel chain and an opportunity to become a new kind of inmate for a notorious Georgian prison. Fingers crossed, the long-awaited launch of Bristol’s Artist Residence is now set for June (we were hoping for November 2020, but we’ve bumped it over from last year’s new hotels post). There are no obvious trends to report, except a hike in prices – room rates that inevitably reflect the level of demand. Only Mollie’s Motel in Bristol and the Telegraph in Coventry could be described as budget – so we’ve chucked in a bit of surfside glamping to even up the tariff ratio.
Telegraph Hotel, Coventry.
Opened 17 May 2020
In this year’s UK City of Culture, this is the reinvention of the former offices of the local newspaper, the Coventry Evening Telegraph. The raw material was built in the 1950s during Coventry’s post-war reconstruction; it’s classic Mid-Century modern and the hotel designers have gone with the flow. There will be a restaurant, 88 rooms (including the apartment-like Lord Iliffe Suite, named after the original newspaper’s owner) and a printwork-themed rooftop bar called Generators – with views over the city’s Belgrade Square (the latter will be open by April 14). Doubles from £57.60 per night. More info here.
Bodmin Jail, Bodmin, Cornwall.
Opened: 17 May 2021.
Not just any old jail, Bodmin’s once derelict prison is Georgian, Grade II listed and steeped, as they say, in horrible history. When it was built in 1779, it was a blueprint for England’s ‘ideal’ prison, though many of its wretched inmates were incarcerated for minor crimes; the last of its 55 executions took place in 1909 and by 1927 it was closed. A ruin for almost a century, the building presented new owners with a challenging conversion, but fast forward to now, and Bodmin Jail is ready to welcome a very different kind of inmate. The four-star hotel offers 70 bedrooms, many featuring original ‘jail features’ (stone cell walls, barred windows etc). Inevitably, it’s not big on views, although staying here is not cheap: prices from £250 a night B&B. There is a restaurant and, next door, the Bodmin Jail visitor attraction which opened in 2020. Check it out here.
The Wave Surfside Glamping, Bristol
Opened 17 May 2021
The Wave, the innovative inland surfing lake near Bristol, is now offering accommodation: 25 Safari tents, each sleeping up to eight people. ‘Luxury surfside glamping’ is how the concept is described, and although communal camping is not everyone’s idea of luxury, this is a neat take on the boho surf lodge – ideal for groups of friends, families or even couples (if you can stretch to the full tariff). Each lakeside tent comes with kitchenette, toilet, comfy beds (a double, four bunks and a sofa bed), fridge, wood-burner, dining space and a private balcony. The camp is yards away from the surf breaks (they sounds just like the real thing), the café-bar and the shower block. Each tent costs from £105 to £200 per night with a two-night minimum stay – three-nights at the weekends. More info here.
The Star, Alfriston, East Sussex
Opened: 14 June 2021.
A revamped village inn on the Sussex Downs, The Star is the first official joint venture between Olga Polizzi (of the Tresanton in Cornwall) and daughter Alex (Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector). With medieval origins and a charmingly wonky 15th century façade, the inn features oriel windows and a jettied upper storey striped with black oak beams. Olga herself has taken on the design of the hotel’s 30 pretty rooms and suites (some in the old building, others in a new block) which, as far as we can tell, are big on English wallpapers, patterned fabrics, florals, prints, local art and antique furniture. Courtyards, Juliet balconies and the occasional oak truss also feature. Prices from £190 per night. See more info here.
Mollie’s Motel and Diner, Bristol
Opened: July 2021
This is the second of a new motel concept dreamed up by the Soho House Group (think Babington House, Cow Shed spas and a world of members’ club boltholes). The plan is to offer a nationwide chain of these affordable (or ‘budget luxe’) roadside pitstops, kicking off in Buckland near Oxford and followed by this out-of-town Bristol number (next stop: Manchester). Don’t be put off by the location (sandwiched between the M5 and the A4018 with views over a mish-mash of out-of-town retail park), this is a clever combo of retro American style and 21st century comfort – think king-size beds with Hypnos mattresses, smart check-in, super sound insulation and electric vehicle charging, plus cocktails, Dirty burgers, sodas, shakes and neon lights (doubles from £50 a night). Eat your heart out Travelodge: Mollie’s is cool. Check it out here.
Artist Residence, Bristol:
Opening August 2021.
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), the opening date was postponed, and postponed again. On Portland Square, between Stokes Croft and the shopping centre, the building is 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. artistresidence.co.uk.
The Graduates (Oxford and Cambridge)
Opened 1 July 2021
The cities of Oxford and Cambridge are the first in Europe to take on a newby from Graduate Hotels – a US chain that specialises in ‘counterculture hospitality’ in university towns. I use the word ‘chain’ loosely, as the hotels – though numerous – are as different as the places they inhabit: Tucson is very Santa Fe; Berkeley is all ‘bohemian chic and collegiate plaids’; Nashville’s pink palace of ‘playful luxe’, is big on florals, Karaoke and vintage motel style. Marketing material majors on educational puns (‘where the school of life meets your favourite place to stay’ etc), but these classy (sorry), rather pricey hotels target grown-ups over students. The Oxford property (pictured above) inhabits the old Macdonald Randolph hotel, right in the thick of the city; a redesign ‘pays homage to the university’s innovators and alumni’ and adds crests and busy wallpaper to original gothic arches and oak panelling. In Cambridge (below), the revamp of a former Doubletree by Hilton takes its design inspirations from the English countryside, the city’s history and the River Cam; rooms feature pastoral wallpapers, bedside tables shaped like river punts, wood and leather desks and a wash of Cambridge Blue. Room rates start at around £189 per night (Cambridge hotel) to £229 (Oxford).
The Albion, Aberteifi, Wales
Opening September 2021
On the River Teifi’s Cardigan waterfront, the conversion of this pair of former grain warehouses is a new venture for Fforest – a collective of rustic outdoor experiences centred around a 200-acre farm in West Wales (domes, shacks, crog lofts, plus various healthy food outlets and the smallest pub in Wales). The 23-room hotel will replace Fforest’s Granary Lofts (self-catering apartments) and by the looks of it will take a similar design approach: a vintage industrial meets maritime heritage vibe with raw stonework and 19th century lime-wash, Welsh wools and woody surfaces. Visit the website here.
Eden Project Hotel, Cornwall
Opening 2021 [TBC]
Not entirely sure when this landmark hotel is due to open, but it’s a big story for Cornwall: a by-product of the world-famous Eden Project, the finished thing will offer 109 bedrooms in an ‘unconventional’, energy-efficient structure designed by architects Tate Harmer (big on sustainability and the environment) at a cost of around £8.5 million. In terms of appearance, this artist’s impression is all we have to go on, but the hotel, we are told, will ‘blend into the countryside’, and incorporate existing trees and stone walls. The site (adjacent to the Eden Project’s carparks) will also be landscaped to add a meadow and an orchard. For more info, keep an eye on the website.