If you’re visiting the Brit capital, we’ve got just the hotels to suit your fancy…
With an exchange rate that makes it visitor friendly, and the accessibility to great shopping (outlets included), history, architecture and scenic sights, London is easily one of our favourite cities.
Plus it’s got such a vibrant F&B scene. The melting pot that it is means you get everything from easy pub food to innovative, modern cuisine – Dishoom and Ottolenghi are constantly on foodies’ lips – and there are 65 Michelinstarred restaurants (2016) in London alone. Just as you’d build an itinerary to suit your travel style, here are our picks of some of the best hotels to suit your personality…
It’s not exactly in London, but only a short hour-long train ride away. Set in a city known for its university and world-class museums – the Ashmolean Museum and Natural History Museum are not to be missed (entry is free and when the weather gets dreary, there are no better places to seek warmth) – the Malmaison Oxford (www.malmaison.com) has a charming history of its own.
Built originally in 1071 as a Norman fortress during the times of William the Conqueror, the Mal was later extended and became the HM Prison Oxford from 1888 to 1996. So yes, it’s a pretty inventive hotel conversion. Some may be spooked, but you’ll be easily swayed once you see the luxurious and beautiful reinvention.
The old cell block A has been converted into rooms – two cells form a room and a third the bathroom, and equipped with plush furnishings.
Look out for tongue-in-cheek details like old-style cell doors and prison gates, carpets imprinted with markings of a countdown, witty signs like Houses of Correction, and artworks in the room painted with words like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Wanted”.
If you are imaginative enough, look out to the quadrangle where inmates used to spend their day, and for a memorable shot, stroll down to the basement where one original cell has been maintained. (Warning: May be scary for kids or may be useful to make kids behave.)
The Mal is next door to Oxford Castle which is unlocked, so you can climb the Norman Castle Mound and enjoy panoramic views from St George’s Tower. There are also many bars and cafes within walking distance, and for a bout of shopping, head to the Covered Market, which showcases local crafts, food and drink, or the posher Bicester Village, which houses over 130 outlet boutiques.