With grand façades, beautifully appointed suites and elegant architecture, Red Carnation Hotels are all quite clearly wonderful. Consequently, many a guest and visitor, in the face of such obvious splendour, can miss out on secret nooks and tucked away recesses filled with small treasures and delights.
Between the fine produce of the kitchen gardens and an extraordinary wine cellar, any dining experience at Summer Lodge in Dorset isn’t easily forgotten. There is one feature, however, that no self-respecting cheese lover should be ignorant of. The British Cheese Awards were right on the money when they awarded ‘Best British Cheese Board’ to The Summer Lodge. You can take your pick of 27 artisan cheeses that are mouth-wateringly cheesetastic!
NEITHER SHAKEN NOR STIRRED
The renowned Mr Martini is barman at the Egerton House Hotel, and is, as his eponymous title suggests, a specialist authority on the art of the cocktail. So if you’re looking for the best martini in London, you need search no further; these martinis are smashing (in so many ways). If you’d like some inside info on Antonio, mild-mannered alter ego of Mr Martini himself, go ahead and take a listen here.
A STORYBOOK SECRET GARDEN
Indeed you could easily find yourself waiting for that red-breasted robin to pull aside the foliage, revealing the secrets of The Montague on the Gardens. Perfectly complemented with a ‘Best of British’ tasting menu, you can while away the hours amongst emerald vines, elegant birches, wisteria and summer flowers. It’s an absolute Eden in the heart of London, and is, with its floral scents and glimmering lanterns, a wonderful retreat for a midsummer night’s eve.
CHAMPAGNE? THIS LEOPARD CAN’T CHANGE HER SPOTS
I feel obliged to share with you some enduring wisdom from Madame Bollinger herself, who said, “I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I drink it when I’m alone, and when I have company. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch the stuff, unless I’m thirsty.” And ‘amen’ we say to that at The Leopard Bar at The Rubens Hotel. With its rich safari-chic atmosphere, The Leopard Bar boasts an unparalleled selection of Champagnes and accompanying dishes such as Sevruga Caviar. You can also find whiskey, cognac, Armagnac and many fine wines on the sophisticated bar menu.
PLUNDER THE PANTRY OF DELIGHTS
If, like me, you have ever yearned to be set loose on the pantry of one of London’s most unique hotels, then this proffering from ’41’ Hotel is truly a dream come true. From 8:30pm, the fridges of the Executive Lounge are opened, filled to bursting with delectable and succulent snacks. Guests are encouraged to take their pick, with the gleeful abandon a pilfering Viking, of every treat available. Go wild!
RAISE YOUR GAME AT THE ACORN INN
Deep in the heart of the Dorset Downs (and very close to Red Carnation’s Summer Lodge), far from the madding crowds, you can step back in time and get your heart a-racing at the completely endearing, old-style skittles alley at the Acorn Inn. Here at the Inn, you can enjoy an award-winning dinner, pool tables, skittles and an array of other fun activities and general jollity.
AL FRESCO ISLAND LIFE
Guernsey is a land of romance, salty air and warm summer evenings, and there is no better way to celebrate this gorgeous island than to dine at The Olive Grove, an al fresco summer venue at The Old Government House Hotel. Where does one begin? Views of a topaz ocean? Seafood barbecues? It’s a completely idyllic hidden gem.
WINE, GLORIOUS WINE
The Milestone Hotel is one of those special places with a deep and enduring passion for fine wines. It is an absolute pleasure to dip into their selection, especially with the help of The Milestone’s master sommeliers. From the established old world estates to revered new world wines, as well as lesser known regions such as Georgia, Greece and Moldova, you can expect a dazzling variety of the best wines in the world. The great part is, as a visitor to The Milestone, you just can’t go wrong with any choice.
THERE ARE “HIDDEN GEMS” AND THEN THERE ARE HIDDEN GEMS
Real hidden gems? Yes! Typical of Red Carnation’s unparalleled heights of service, in this year of British pride The Milestone Hotel is giving Jubilee Weekend guests the chance to leave with a dazzling diamond necklace. And, guests checking-in in June may be one of the five fortunate people to find an amethyst, quartz, or aquamarine semi-precious stone awaiting them in their rooms; a selection of stones inspired by the crown jewels. The Diamond Jubilee package includes a champagne picnic in Kensington Gardens and a commemorative gift.
So many hidden gems, so little time! I’ve certainly enjoyed uncovering them all, and I do wish all the Diamond Jubilee guests at The Milestone the best of luck for finding the dazzling white gold and diamond necklace (I’m already supressing a little jealousy) that awaits one very lucky visitor.
By Lucy Heavens