And in no particular order ……………………………..
1 Unusual but a grand stay in Long Beach California and the old lady of the ocean The Queen Mary ticks those boxes. Her ocean going days are over and she is now a grand hotel with a capital G. I only had a one night stay but it had been a promise that I had made to myself a few years earlier when travelling with kids. We had done a Haunted Encounter style visit in which we had screamed and equally loved as a guide led us round the most haunted spots on the ship. We learned about the incidents in the swimming pool, the problems in the engine house and experienced the lights flicking on and off. The atmosphere was great and interactive it certainly was. With two kids in tow a stay there wasn’t financially feasible but now that it is just he who likes to think he is obeyed and me we could afford to splash out – forgive the pun! There is no splashing as the Queen stays put. The rooms are modernised but restored and decorated in its original style, being a guest felt very special. You embark and receive a passport style ticket and the liner is yours to explore.
Number 2 was once a monastery! In the El Barrio Gothic district of Barcelona. This enchanting accommodation has been cleverly converted into a luxury hotel under the umbrella of Relais. The reception is tastefully lit offering a calm welcome after a hectic day sight seeing in the Barca metropolis. The rooms are upscale with prestigious toiletries and comfortable beds. Fantastic location for walking around the city.
3 A Governor’s fort in Luang Prabang! We stayed at the impressive Hotel de la Paix 15 minutes walk from the centre. We chose to rest our heads on the outskirts of the town as we wanted a pool, whereas the more central accommodation choices do not have this luxury. We were not disappointed. This ex governor’s fort has been transformed into a boutique style hotel with 23 rooms. The quadrangle which must have previously been the marching and exercise area is now a pool and garden …..truly a peaceful haven for weary walkers.
The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Miami has the wow factor for it’s pool, unusually large!
I have swam in many a hotel pool, but the best ever pool so far for me has to be at the The beautiful Biltmore in Coral Gables I’m sure my photos do not do it justice. I believe it is one of the largest hotel pools in America but whatever the size it’s always remained a favourite for me.
Of course it isn’t just the pool which makes this a first class hotel, the rooms are classy, the entrance, grounds and foyer are elegant and just the neighbourhood being called Coral Gables conjures up a storybook backdrop.
5 A chicken shed in France!!!!!
Our little home from home was once a chicken shed in the grounds of a 1930’s villa in the small town of Vence on the Cote d’Azur. We were warmly welcomed by the owners Anne and Richard when we arrived one Saturday evening in Fanny the Fiat from Nice airport.
Of course there are no chickens now but instead a delightfully decorated air conditioned granny annexe with all mod cons and a mezzanine floor which houses the double bed. It was extremely comfortable for The Grey Traveller and he who likes to think he is obeyed. We were just two people who wanted to chillax in a quiet area in a beautiful garden with a stunning pool. You don’t need to haul a heavy suitcase as there is a washing machine and the local area expects nothing other than casual dress.
7 Portmeirion is a whimsical, fantastical, Disneyesque (in a good way) Italian style village on the north coast of Wales, situated right on the broad estuary of the River Dwyryd near to Penrhyndeudraeth village and close to Porthmadog.
It was Clough William- Ellis’s grand vision and now eighty years later my delight to visit.
You can enter as a day visitor and explore the tiny settlement with a free guide who will lead you round the village and answer questions about the buildings. There is also a small cinema giving a detailed film story of the beginnings of Portmeirion and a train which takes visitors around the Chinese Lake and through the adjoining woodland.
Souvenir shops and cafes can extend your stay but I would recommend a drink at the hotel on a fine day as the views across the estuary are amazing, there are coastal and woodland walks to make an overnight stay very much worthwhile.
The Grey Traveller stayed in a village room on a Double Bed and Breakfast deal for 2 nights. I stayed at The Bridge House which was decorated in an old fashioned twenties style with all mod cons. The icing on the cake was the sherry and the incredible estuary view. I chose to eat dinner at Castle Deudraeth on the first night and the hotel on the following evening. In both cases the service is exemplary and food first class. The Hotel menu reminded me very much of The Great British Menu with its emulsions and foams and incredible presentation.
Hats off to Clough for creating this unique corner of Wales and hats off to his grandson who is continuing to maintain it.
8 As soon as we crunched into the shingle drive we knew that we had chosen right. Joan our glorious landlady met us with a great smile and steaming cups of coffee whilst she settled us into Alton and our room for the night in The Tower at St Mary’s Hall.
What makes a perfect bed and breakfast stay over for me is friendliness and location and St Mary’s Hall has oodles of both.
Alton is a small market town conveniently located at the end of a Waterloo, London line and also firmly positioned on the Jane Austin literary trail. This is why Joan welcomes many overseas visitors as Alton gives you a slice of England with a fast train to the capital.
St Mary’s Hall is as it sounds a church hall building fixed with luxury fittings and home to Joan and hubby and the many guests that stay. We chose our bespoke breakfast that evening and then sunk onto our bed for a rest before venturing into Alton, a stones throw from the hall. Our bed was so deep and comfortable, the tray laden with tea/coffee/hotchoc/water and biscuits and the bathroom equipped with all that you might need if you have forgotten things from home.