Hotel Du Vin – Exeter

Rugby and the opportunity for some child-free time meant we had at least two good reasons to head West for the weekend. In my book, one is enough but two or more must not be ignored. We headed for Exeter and booked the Hotel Du Vin as we haven’t stayed with them in years and wanted to check out the unusual building.

Hotel Du Vin Exeter

The hotel itself is on the sight of an old eye hospital and whilst that could potentially feel a bit Scooby-Doo and creepy, it really doesn’t. That said, there are a few artifacts from the building’s medical past but they look really great alongside some more of Hotel Du Vin‘s mid-century touches.

Centrally located, Hotel Du Vin is ideal for seeing the rest of Exeter (though if you are heading for rugby the ground is a little further out of town). Aside from the cathedral and some beautiful heritage buildings, there are lots of nice cafes and shops to explore. The cute quayside area is worth a visit too .

Image: Visit Exeter

I gave the match a swerve and availed myself of some downtime exploring the hotel interior and a glass of fizz with a book in the bar. Sensible me thinks, as it poured.

Plenty of contemporary well-designed public spaces in the hotel to find yourself a nook. Quite a few tables in one of the large public rooms were filled with afternoon tea gatherings and definitely some hen-party action. If that’s not your cup of tea (see what I did there?) then you can head for the library and some peace.

As we planned to be out and about for most the weekend, we didn’t splash out on a deluxe double or the Studio but our ‘Superior Double’ was totally welcoming and not at all poky. The bed was ultra comfortable and we had a minibar, great wifi and good coffee machine; all nice touches. The en-suite was compact but had a bath and shower in a contemporary style with metro tiles and REN toiletries (Yessssssss – my favourite).

Hotel breakfasts are the make or break of a good hotel stay, no? I just love this bit of a weekend so they have to get it right. This should include; people watching, a choice of interesting food (which you haven’t cooked yourself), decent coffee and a leisurely read of the papers. Happy to report it was marvellous. The bonus with Hotel Du Vin Exeter is the view from the breakfast setting with floor to ceiling windows. We loved it.

Image : Hotel Du Vin

From the restaurant/breakfast room you can view the walled garden, potting shed and find your way to the spa. The REN Spa would be the perfect place to enjoy a little piece of tranquility in the city location and luxe-out your stay. There there is also an inside/outside pool and workout suite but we didn’t get time to try either of those sadly on this visit.

To digest our feast, we returned to Exeter Quay for a walk along the waters edge. People were engaging in all sorts of activity; canoeing, cycling etc but for the Sunday sloths among us, there were plenty cafes and spots to just watch the world go by or grab a drink.

Puerto Lounge, Exter Quay

Even without the lure of an away match, the other half agreed that for a chilled-out weekend, Exeter is a pretty safe bet. The Hotel Du Vin offers an iconic building with a unique personality to stay in and with comfy beds, power showers and a pool I’ve now got THREE reasons to go back.

Doubles from £75 excluding breakfast.

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The Hoxton Holborn

London hotels are plentiful, this we know (though not all can guarantee to fulfil their claims of stylish, friendly and still come with a capital price-tage). One of my main criteria for hotel selection is the interior inspiration available (no prizes for guessing that one). If we are getting away from the little handbrakes for a night or the weekend then I am going wring every last drop of enjoyment out of the time away!

Friendly and stylish check-in, good start ( Image @ Enismore)

Levels of inspo run high at ALL the Hoxton hotels and top of my wishlist for next year would be their latest opening in Portland (though I would settle for Paris or Amsterdam, I’m good like that).

Closer to home, the Holborn and Shoreditch open-house style hotels are certainly worth a visit if, like me, time away is not always just about somewhere to crash. Downtime in your average Hoxton means a feast for the eyes as well as the appetite.

There is an excellent selection of room types at Hoxton Holborn; for solo travellers, couples, small families and even an apartment (six rooms to choose from, plus a communal pantry kitchen that flips to a bar of an evening). The Apartment has room for 250 revellers which is presumably ideal for a relaxed wedding or fancy 40th type occasion.

So, to the interiors. The ‘open-house’ style makes for a relaxing vibe and there are sofas and breakout spaces to loll with the papers and a coffee. Or the super cool Hubbard & Bell bar for a cold beer or a pretty decent negroni and some all day dining. There is a Brooklyn/NYC feel to the public spaces (lots of wood, leather and metal accents) which I love. Just a nod though, a theme hotel this is not. You can hang with locals and global citizens alike, everyone is welcome and enjoying the offering.

Elsewhere in the hotel there are great interior touches too. You know I love a well-designed loo (what? It says a LOT about a venue). ThereforeI am happy to report the Holborn doesn’t disappoint. A great, industrial, roughed-up-luxe scheme and some super monochrome flooring.

Monochrome makes its way up to the bathroom too – our en-suite was a fab black & white tile fest. Compact but not claustrophobic, the shower was powerful (a must for any hotel-stay) and the towels were fluffy (also essential). Great-smelling, wall-mounted toiletries (extra Styleopoints for not using horrid tiny plastic bottles) also add to the feel of a upscale but not stuffy stay.

Our bedroom was styled with retro / mid-century touches and the circular wall mirror almost filled the wall. Outside there was a row of super-cool cinema seats and some wall lights which could have been vintage, possibly from a super stylish, communist-era military facility. Awesome.

Local illustrators designed the bespoke wallpaper (scenes from Dickens novels I’ll have you know!) and Central St Martins students created the art for the bedrooms. Local stuff is clever stuff. Larger rooms have space for a kid’s bed or cot and the Hoxton Holborn accepts your furry friend too. I am referring to a dog, not those people that like to dress up as animals (though am sure no-one would bat an eyelid at them either).

Whatever size room you select, you can expect the same ‘Hox Perks’. That’s free wi-fi, an hour’s free international calls, and a light breakfast bag delivered to your door each morning. The fridge comes stocked with fresh milk and free water ( in a recyclable tetra pak – huzzah) and you can fill it yourself with beers, wines or softs sold at totally reasonable prices at the front desk. There is also a full breakfast menu available down in the easy-going, open plan area with an excellent selection of seating (large social refectory-style tables, banquettes, bar and circular settings for two).

 Holborn Hoxton has got hipster coffee, snacks and late night cocktails down (and the Chicken Shop in the basement is great for interior instagrammers AND for lunch or dinner).

The hotel is really well -located for transport links and relaxed walks around the city. A stone’s throw from Covent Garden, Oxford Street, Bloomsbury and Farringdon, in Holborn, you’re never far from anything. Plenty of bars and restaurants to check out nearby. We went out for the evening to see a band and walked back to the hotel for drinks, where a super-cool crowd had ditched the laptops and newspapers and were now getting all social in the super stylish bar.

The relaxed vibe, central location, excellent service plus destination restaurant and bar, means The Hoxton, Holborn is one of my favourites. Work, rest and play like a (hip) local. Rates from £130. Sign up for special offers.

199-206 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BD
www.thehoxton.com