All posts by Sam Sheppard

What Gives a Spa Hotel its Feel-Good Factor?

It goes without saying that a break at a nice spa hotel has some serious feel-good factors, but a natter with Lifehouse Hotel and Spa’s naturopath Sue Davis made us realise that there’s really a lot more to it than meets the eye. Depending on what your favourite feature of a holiday, mini-break or weekend away, certain sense-simulating factors are going way beyond the aesthetic to stimulate serotonin.

boutique hotel

Good taste

Good food is a joy on so many levels. It is quite literally a feast for the senses, whether it’s something warm and comforting in the winter, or fresh and healthy in the summer.

If you are a fan of seafood however then the particularly good news is that the Vitamin D found in oily fish actually is known as a mood-booster. That must be one of the reasons we are so in love with the restaurant at another spa hotel, The Lugger Hotel in Cornwall then!

Gentle touch

Have you ever heard of cuddle clubs? Groups of strangers get together and pay to have a collective hug because science shows that touch makes us feel better and can also boost the white blood cells.

Well it’s not like you need an excuse to head to a spa hotel, but it turns out that with that thinking in mind, having a massage is about more than getting rid of those knots, it’s about all round happiness.

Spa Hotel

Sight for sore eyes

It always seems incredible to us how much happiness can be generated during a walk surrounded by trees, beautiful gardens and verdant countryside. Well, according to the chakras certain colours can really affect our mood in a positive way.

Violets and purples are optimistic but green is a bit of a whiz when it comes to feeling happy. It is the colour of rejuvenation, it’s neutral and soothing – all the things that one is generally not feeling by the time Friday afternoon comes along and you can’t tell your nose from your elbow, and all the more reason to head to the likes of Cotswold House Hotel.

Sound advice

Not sure about you but for most of us the day is frequently peppered with the sounds of various electronic devices pinging into action – Tweets, voicemails, text messages, emails, phone calls, and app updates galore. It’s a never-ending stream of things and people demanding attention. It is not relaxing.

Sound doesn’t have to be that way though, it can be supremely uplifting. Think about he sound of waves crashing against the shore, a stream merrily making its way through a garden where the only other sound is birdsong. If happiness had a sound it would definitely include a secluded waterside location like Dunollie Hotel on the Isle of Skye.

Bespoke hotels - The Grosvenor Arms Shaftesbury

Smell of de-stress

Did you know that in Japan they frequently spray their factories with citrus essential oils in the mornings to boost productivity? Smell, it seems, makes a big difference to how we feel about life – lavender to relax and unwind, mandarin to soothe toddler tantrums, and citrus to remind us of the heady days of summer.

For some that might mean heading overseas to somewhere like the Pretti Resort to wake up to the smell of lemon groves in the morning. For others it might mean booking a massage or taking a few essential oils with you to enjoy with a good book in a roll top bath or at a spa hotel.

Poodle Power at our Boutique Hotel in London

We’re beyond the point of caring whether it makes us sound like Paris Hilton, our pets are important to us, and so what if they are a little pampered from time to time when we want to take them to a boutique hotel for a break?

Bermondsey Square Hotel - a London Boutique hotel

The satire and stereotypes may be abundant, but at’s “Simply the Guest” awards, it was the animal friendly amongst us who were laughing, including our beloved Bermondsey Square Hotel (B2) in London.

Four stars and oodles of character are not the only things that make this boutique hotel shine; its uniqueness goes another step as it welcomes pets through its doors.

Setting itself apart even from its mutually award-winning counterparts however is that B2 is amongst the few truly stylish pet-friendly hotels residing in the midst of urban bliss.

On its offbeat corner of Bermondsey High Street, located in the area of the famous Friday Bermondsey Antiques Market, it is just a stone’s throw from both iconic city favourites including The Shard, the Tate Modern and the culinary delights of Borough Market, a perfect setting for a boutique hotel in London.

Bermondsey Square Hotel a London boutique hotel
Bermondsey Square Hotel

All part of the excellent service, B2 can provide dog beds, bowls, treats, a map of bars, shops and restaurants that also welcome four-legged friends, and 10% off leads, collars and harnesses at Holly & Lil – Collar Couture, a neighbour to this boutique hotel.

It’s not all just about making waves in the hospitality industry, it’s about putting your proverbial paw print on the world, and the Bermondsey Square hotel certainly knows how!

Will You Feel The Beat at Our Country House Hotels?

If music be the food of love then The Welcombe Hotel, Spa and Golf Club, one of our great country house hotels,  is the place to be this April.

Stratford upon Avon’s country house hotel isn’t short on reasons to visit, but nonetheless it doesn’t do us any harm to have one more, and on 24th, 25th and 26th April it comes in the form of a series of operatic favourites, a first for one of our country house hotels.

The Welcombe Hotel

You don’t have to be an opera enthusiast to appreciate the finer qualities of La Traviata, Tosca and Madame Butterfly; they are, quite simply, beautiful stories. So while it is always an uncompromising joy to see opera performed on the stage at the Royal Albert Hall or London’s Covent Garden Opera House, there is something rather poetic about the tales being told in the sociable and relaxing surrounds of such an elegant hotel.

The Welcombe Hotel
The Welcombe Hotel

The Love: Lost and Found collection is performed on the Friday night by soprano Melinda Hughes, tenor Jonathan Stoughton and pianist Jeremy Limb, and the evening is a sensual feast of Champagne, fine wine and good food; all the ingredients needed to be suitably sated and relaxed in one of our country house hotels.

The Welcombe Hotel - Brasserie Restaurant
The Welcombe Hotel – Brasserie Restaurant

A weekend of entertainment

However, the evening’s love-in is followed by a morning of serenading over breakfast on the Saturday where the trio pickup on a more eclectic mix entitled Operetta to Cabaret (think West Side Story, Merry Widow and The Mikado). Then sit back for another evening of decadence with a musical backdrop, and a leisurely Sunday breakfast.

So, are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…

Bespoke Restaurants-Lugger Hotel a Most Memorable Meal

It is not by accident that Mary Berry has seen a renaissance in her popularity in recent years, or that MasterChef has such an avid following, we are a nation in love with our food. As such epicurean innovators across the land are rising to the fore and proving their creative flair when it comes to both traditional and contemporary food. And so it is at Bespoke Restaurants.

Bespoke Restaurants & Hotels - The LuggerSo on the dramatic coast of Cornwall, surrounded by cliffs and headlands it is therefore fitting that The Lugger Hotel holds a dear place in our food-loving hearts because of Bespoke Restaurants’ Lugger Hotel Head Chef Jonathan Dome’s flair  when it comes to fish.

Situated almost in the water, you can half imagine your dinner’s protagonists jumping out of the water and straight onto the plate. What makes it a step above the rest is Dome’s personal touch, and that’s not just when it comes to fish. The French chef (with a pedigree encompassing stints at Le Gavroche and The Dorchester) has some serious je ne sais quoi when it comes to dealing with a duck leg, gurnard madras, or beetroot dauphinoise.

Bespoke Restaurants -Lugger Room 2-min
The Lugger Hotel Bedroom

We don’t want to be too leading on what you should choose if you are lucky enough to tuck-in here, but just to say we had a particularly enjoyable experience with the scallop, citrus fruit and pistachio praline starter. That said, we were seriously tempted by the crab soufflé as well, so if you happen to try that on your next visit then perhaps you would give Bespoke Restaurants a shout with your thoughts in the comments section or on Twitter.

Bespoke Restaurants - The Lugger

It’s always nice to have a little formal accreditation to prove one’s expertise and as such the restaurant has two AA Rosettes and (fingers and toes crossed) another one on the way. To be frank though, we would head back even if it didn’t have awards to its name.

The Lugger features one of the Bespoke restaurants that are available at all our hotels in the UK