Once envisaged as a grand Georgian port on the Durham coast, Seaham segued into a mining village before the pits closed 30 years ago. Now the black beaches have given way to a romantic wild coastal strip, the little town is to be revitalised by a new marina and Seaham Hall, where Lord Byron wrote his Hebrew Melodies, has metamorphosed into one of the hospitality jewels of north-east England.
When Tina Green was looking for somewhere to hold Sir Philip’s £5 million, 50th birthday bash, she picked the Anassa, taking over the 177-room Cyprus property and flying in a slew of celebrity guests to entertain the Topshop boss.
You can see why. Designed as a kind of faux Provencal village (though not many of those have £15 million lavished on them for renovation and refitting), it has a main building and a series of whitewashed, pastel-shuttered villas set amid luxuriant gardens.
I’m sitting by the window holding a TV-style handset making the blinds (sorry, drapes) go up and down as I dim the lighting and adjust the room temperatures. Bit cooler in the bedroom, up a bit in the bathroom, methinks.
It’s raining outside and I’m indulging myself with the coolest boy toy that one of the slickest hotels on the Upper East Side, has to offer. And there’s girlie stuff too: the bathroom is lined with Frederic Fekkai smellies and, for those who can afford it, he even has a salon downstairs.
It took almost a decade after it became a hip, clubbing capital for Reyjkavik to get the hostelry it was crying out for. The 101 Hotel, named for the central postal district where it stands, remains the height of cool. Where else could you bump into Bjork in the bar or find yourself sharing the hot tub with visiting rock stars?
Henry James observed that few things in life can be more agreeable “than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”. Not everyone adheres to the ritual in the way James had in mind. But the novelist could rest content knowing that at Tylney Hall in Hampshire, tea is taken seriously, with white cloths and china cups, served in a stately lounge with a view of a croquet lawn.
In fact, from the imposing red-brick façade with its fountains, to the wood-panelled luxury within, and the gardens and grounds, Tylney gets the country house thing right.
Arriving at the Montefiore in the evening to be confronted by buzz and beautiful people, you could be forgiven for thinking your taxi had dropped you at a restaurant rather than a hotel. For this Tel Aviv boutique hostelry is, essentially, a restaurant with rooms. And those rooms display the most contemporary brand of chic that hotel-dwellers in Israel have ever been offered.
Chandeliers, halogen lighting and three loos are not standard equipment in most Cornish self-catering cottages. You can find slate floors, whitewashed walls and other rustic accoutrements in many holiday homes, but all too often accompanied by damp, draughts and ill-equipped kitchens.
But Gambridge Barn, described by Classic Cottages as “chic”, actually exceeds expectations. Claire, who owns the property, has made a new stable conversion her decorating dream — and for fans of smart contemporary living, it works.
In a city of sultans, the Kempinski Ciragan Palace has a huge advantage over its rivals — it’s the only Ottoman palace currently open for business as a hotel.
Add the superb location — right on the Bosphorous in strolling distance of the smart BoHo cafés, clubs and shops of Ortakoy, Istanbul’s Hampstead — and you can see why this hotel (its difficult name is pronounced Shir-arn) is so popular with well-heeled visitors.
The Harmony, just over a year old, is what Jerusalem has been crying out for — a chic but affordable perch in the lively, western side of town.
And you can’t beat Nachalat Shiva, west Jerusalem’s dining and clubbing playground, for location — though taxi drivers must be told to head for the back entrance of the Harmony parallel to Yoel Moshe Salomon Street, which is pedestrianised. The hotel sits on the upper floors of a small shopping centre.