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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Cotswold Cool – Spring weekend getaway

Cool interiors in the Cotswolds? Hell yeah.

“Cotswold weekend away?” my friends said. I rolled my eyes out loud. Imagining headscarves and tweed jacket and cafés called Binkie’s I just couldn’t commit. Then I remembered I had three children and a very needy rescue puppy and offered to drive.

I did exactly what I tell the kids not to do…imagined I wouldn’t like something without TRYING it first and  It was all kinds of fabulous. The eating, the shopping, the scenery and some seriously cool bars and to boot.  Granted, there was a fair bit of tweed and the odd lesser-spotted Sloane-ranger, but it was also absolutely gorgeous and the house we stayed in provided some insta-grammable moments for sure.

Interiors at a Cotswold house  near Tetbury for a weekend stay or getaway. Great interiors and contemporary art.

With a morning coffee from Cafe 53 on board we hit the shops running and the mix of antique emporiums, high end interiors and edgy little homeware havens satiated the urge to splurge. We all bought vases for spring flowers, scandi short candles and the most gorgeous interiors accessories from Cwytch. There were a few Spring wardrobe purchases too though frankly Tetbury is synonymous with interiors for me.

Seriously impressive was the Close hotel and we did make a stop for a pre lunch drink here. Clearly subject to a recent renovation, the interiors here would not look out of place in a top magazine.  Gorgeous furnishings, artwork, and fabulous paint choices. Excellent stuff.

The Close Hotel in Tetbury, Dark and contemporary  interiors styled with spring flowers. A cool cotswold hotel for lunch drinks or dinner.
gallery wall art at the Close hotel. Great gallery wall of animals in the bar of this Tetbury Hotel.
My gallery wall at home is based on this great animal collection at The Close
cafe 53 a great cafe with interiors to die for in the Cotswolds cool hub of Tetbury.
Cafe 53 brunch, lunch and definitely for tea and cake

In a manoeuvre the Red Arrows would be proud of, we performed a starburst move to collect the cars, wine and a quick detour via the cake shop before heading back to our house for the night #allthefoodgroups

Mixing styles & periods is my favourite interiors look (aside from full-blown-art-deco) and our accommodation did this brilliantly. A quaint cottage down a winding lane but so much more thanks to an amazing architect-led renovation. Contemporary prints on fabrics and cushions with period wing-back chairs and vintage slate floors. Yum. Modern bathrooms concealed behind sliding walls with hessian floors and exposed roof timbers. Yay. Fashionable and quirky modern art hung over a traditional open wood fireplace….when can I move in?

Interiors shot for the very lovely house we had our weekend getaway at in Tetbury, Cotswolds. Instead of a hotel, we hired a house.

Predictably, some might say, the evening was fairly liquid and led to the early on-set of pyjamas ready for a second day exploring what the Cotswolds had to offer.

The weather was our only challenge on day 2 and sensibly, coffee and papers in front of the fire prevailed. Plenty of pinch-me moments occurred as we realised no one had; waited outside a cold church hall or on a side-line, refereed a squabble or cleared up an unsavoury accident for nearly 24 hours. We had also finished several drinks whilst they were STILL HOT. Eureka.

We headed to the water for an hour or two; so many crazy ways of getting yourself utterly and toally wet are available in the area with its amazing water parks. After a thorough soaking attempting to wakeboard, we headed for my happy place – a hotel!

Calcot Manor and Spa entrance. A beautiful  hotel  with amazing interior details. Charming Cotswolds but with a contemporary feel. Great for lunch.
Welly welcome at Calcot Manor and Spa
Calcot Manor and Spa entrance. A beautiful  hotel  with amazing interior details. Charming Cotswolds but with a contemporary feel. Great for lunch.
contemporary Cotswold touches at Calcot Manor
Calcot  Manor hotel exterior. HOtel has gorgeous gardens and  a spa too. great for a staycation.
An amazing place to warm up and chill out on cold Spring days

Calcot Manor was absolutely ideal for some re-fuelling before re-entry into the atmosphere of family life.  We opted for more casual dining and their Gumstool Inn was just what we were after. Mac & cheese all round worked a major miracle (or that was possibly the treacle tart we had after?)

The Gumstool Inn is part of the hotel but offers less formal dining
Relaxed (but no less tasty) dining at The Gumstool Inn

Here we did spot a couple of headscarves ‘n’ tweed but I am pleased to report only on the over 70s couple lunching with their grandkids (and they didn’t try and shoot us and hang us up to cure). The interiors here at Calcot were as good as the food with gorgeous Spring flowers on every windowsill.

I  hold my hands up #lifeafterlondon continues to inspire me and I thoroughly enjoyed my Cotswold adventure even though it was artic conditions. What a beautiful spot with some incredibly creative and cool outposts. Coming back when it’s official rose weather.