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Dreamy Designs: Six design-led hotels in the UK worth visiting

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

When a stunning double-fronted Regency townhouse was sympathetically renovated to form Drakes, a design-led boutique hotel, it immediately set the standard for style and elegance in Brighton. Feeling more like a grand house than a hotel, each of the 20 bedrooms is individually designed to make the most of the features. The rooms boast European Elm feature walls behind the beds, along with re-cycled bamboo flooring, and most have impressive sea views and fabulous free-standing baths. Luxurious, hand-made Vi-Spring beds are draped in velvet throws with goose down duvets and pillows that scream comfort. If you want to feel like pop royalty, this is the place – to quote The Guardian, " If Kylie was going to stay anywhere in Brighton, she'd stay in Drakes. In fact, she does...”

Leman Locke is a design-led aparthotel on the fringe of East London, near East Aldgate tube station. The suites are almost double the size of a typical boutique hotel room, ranging from 30 to 39 square metres, and revolve around an L-Shaped Sofa – the perfect spot to chill and take in the impressive city views.

Each of Locke’s 168 apartments has been meticulously designed to include everything you want, whether you’re staying for the night or a year. Concrete corridors imply industrial minimalism, but the soft pastel décor palette is contemporary Nordic chic. The lobby shares space with Treves & Hyde, the hippest coffee shop in this neighbourhood. and the duo also runs a small restaurant on site.

Cowley Manor is a 30-bedroom contemporary country house hotel and spa located in the Cotswold countryside, by the regency spa town of Cheltenham. Lewis Carrol is said to have written Alice in Wonderland here, inspired by the hotel gardens. Well there are 55 acres of Grade II-listed gardens parkland, woods and meadows, so they're bound to impress. The exterior of the grand Italianate stone house belies the funky, flamboyant aesthetic inside; think upbeat colours, cowhide window seats and chandeliers, and large papier-mâché animal-heads adorning the bar. Rooms are split across the main house and the stable block and the multi award-winning C-side spa is in a glass-fronted building sunk into a hill to one side.

Artist Residence is now represented in five cities across the UK. The Cornwall edition is tucked away in the old quarter of Penzance, in a historic Georgian House. It is a fun and friendly boutique retreat with 21 bedrooms and a three-bedroom cottage. Think eclectic seaside inn meets creative sanctuary. There are limited edition art prints by British artists in each of the bedrooms and eclectic is definitely the word, with a coastal vibe echoing through murals, textiles, tea chests as bedside tables and reclaimed furniture. The relaxed Cornish Barn restaurant on-site is also worth a visit – don't miss the smokehouse bbq belly pork ribs. Penzance has a long history of attracting artists, rebels and nonconformists, so Artist Residence is a perfect fit.

Renowned architect Keith Griffiths owns three hotels in Pembrokeshire, all of which have been beautifully restored and brought charmingly into the 21st century. Twr y Felin, located in Britain's smallest city, St Davids,embodies a large dose of charm courtesty of its status as a former windmill, originally built in 1806. The feature room ‘Tyddewi’ Tower Suite occupyies the original windmill tower, so has spectacular 360-degree views of the St Davids Peninsula from its own observatory. Twr y Felin is Wales’ first contemporary art hotel, displaying over 100 works of art and sculptures. Leading British artists include Phlash, Mr Jago and Xenz, and Remi Ruff, Harry Adams and Pure Evil are represented, along with Welsh artists including John Uzzell Edwards, Brendan Burns and Adam Buick.

The Lace Market Hotel in Nottingham takes the name of the area; the Lace Market was where Nottingham's textile industry was based. The neighbourhood now houses the city's most upmarket selection of bars and shops. The Lace Market Hotel fits right in, with all 42 bedrooms in the property beautifully refurbished in 2015, The overall decor ties in with the Art Deco feel of the lobby, with its curved wooden reception desk and eye-catching gold twisted light feature. The rooms exhibit striking artwork, a mountain of pillows on the beds, mirrored tabletops and large sash windows and some have original fireplaces. A good night's sleep is pretty much guaranteed with Respa International Sublime series beds. Hit snooze.

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