The Access Awards are an international competition to design fully accessible hotel rooms, to continue improving access to properties worldwide for disabled people, including those with learning difficulties, as well as all other guests. The Awards aim to challenge the perception of hotel facilities set aside for disabled people, which can often be viewed as joyless, poorly-designed and over-medicalised.
The Bespoke Access Awards were established in 2016 and were the first awards of their kind. In their opening year, teams of designers from countries as far afield as Hong Kong, Russia and Canada submit entries across a range of categories. The overall winners, awarded the Celia Thomas Prize worth £20,000, were Motionspot & Ryder Architecture, who devised ‘AllGo’, a unique, universalised approach to hotel room design system to ensure that all hotel rooms are functional, flexible and accessible.
The scope of the competition has been broadened for its second year to cover five strands of inclusive design: Architecture, Product Design, Service Applications (digital), Service Applications (training), and Inclusive Employment. Prizes will be awarded for the most imaginative, innovative and potentially realisable ideas in any or all of these strands,, with the overall winner of the Celia Thomas Prize will receiving £20,000.
The Paralympic Gold Medalist and Peer Baroness Grey-Thompson, whose interest in design was fostered by her father, a professional architect, will judge the competition, together with the distinguished architect Alan Stanton, winner of the 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture.
Alongside them will be Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels and Hotel Sector Champion for Disabled People; Baroness Celia Thomas, Patron of the Access Awards Graeme K Whipper MBE, Disability Specialist for Channel 4; Alastair Hignall CBE, Trustee of the Leonard Cheshire Foundation; Sarah Weird OBE, Chief Executive of Design Council; and Paul Gregory, MCIBSE, MSLL, Global Specification Director for Dyson.
Autumn might be just around the corner but there’s still time for a last minute getaway – and a traditional family holiday sampling the best of Britain is a recipe for success. Head for the south coast with its charming seaside villages and lively towns, endless stretches of cliffs and beaches, and history hidden around every corner. Staying in the UK is a great way to maximise your money and your time, meaning you can splash out a little on a luxurious hotel to make your break extra special – we’ve got several for you to chose from.
Spotlight on Dorset
While there’s plenty to love all along the south coast, Dorset is a particularly good county to pick. Whether you’re after a relaxing week’s walking along the coast and playing on the beach, or amusements and adrenaline-pumping watersports, Dorset is the place to choose. There’s so much going on and in a relatively compact area, meaning you have plenty to entertain the whole family for days.
Steeped in History
The Jurassic Coast isn’t a UNESCO World Heritage Site for nothing; the towering cliffs are home to some of the most important geology in the world, with early fossil discoveries from the region giving birth to geology as a science. There’s plenty of opportunities to sign up for guided fossil hunting trips so that you can bring home a unique souvenir, or you can grab a guide book and head out yourself. Try a walk starting at the famous natural arch of Durdle Door, along the coast to Lulworth Cove. Heading out on the water here is also a great choice, giving you a different perspective of the power of the sea and how it’s shaped this special coastline. Corfe Castle is another one for the list, as picturesque a ruin as anyone could ask for, and the chance to ride on a steam train from the nearby village.
Go to Town
If you’re in need of a touch of civilisation, there’s plenty on offer in Bournemouth – including some of our beautiful hotels overlooking the beach like the East Cliff Court Hotel. A classic seaside pier and attractions, miles of golden sands, a visit to the Oceanarium, or even Monkey World – and with a great range of shopping and eating options too, you can make a day of it. For a quieter and more historic feel, try a visit to Lyme Regis or Weymouth. Both have beautiful beaches, opportunities to try several different water sports, and fantastic museums with hands-on experiences for the whole family which help to bring to life the rich history of the area.
India has always had a sense of mystique and wonder about it – a place born to tell legendary tales and imbued with spice and rich colours. In ever way India is the sort of place that stories are written about and adventures are made from.
Over the past 20 years however, India seems to have garnered a reputation for being the holiday destination of backpackers at one end of the spectrum, and highly priced once-in-a-lifetime adventures at the other end. So what about those of us in between, who want to have a beautiful vacation in a magic destination with exceptional service, but without having to re-mortgage the house to do it? Those of us who simply want to go on holiday somewhere special?
This year the new international business arm of Bespoke Hotels, Bespoke International, launched with its inaugural partnership alongside India’s Peppermint Hotels and the “Play Stay Love”. The Bespoke India Hotels collection is designed to fulfill a growth in interest from international markets looking for a high quality and competent British operator, and the Bespoke India branch incorporates more than 50 venues across the country including Northern India, Western India and Southern India.
Northern India starts with Jaipur, the Pink City, known for its mysterious Palace of the Winds, before heading to the majestic Taj Mahal and all offset by the breathtaking Himalayas. Western India boasts some of the region’s most spectacular wildlife and is home to the otherworldly Jaipur, otherwise known as Blue City for its vivid blue painted houses. Southern India on the other hand epitomizes tranquility and relaxation with its river cruises, spices and coffee plantations.
The Bespoke India Hotels Collection infuses the travel experience with its characteristic sense of British charm and the high standards you would expect from a Bespoke hotel, while still getting to the heart and character of the destination you’re visiting. Swap grubby London transport for temples, sandy beaches and a feast of fresh prawns in Kerala, or explore the spectacular wildlife and rich environments of Northern Rajastan.
In Asia you will find some of the most awe-inspiring mountains with the Aamod Nainital magnificently located in the Himalayan hills. The area is also blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches you can find, and one cannot express highly enough the wonders of visiting Kanan Beach Resort between Bekal and Nileshwar beaches. Situated on the Arabian coast the trekking and natural features are awe-inspiring while the local festivals are a joy to behold.
What Bespoke India Hotels brings that other collections can’t is that assurance of high standards without diluting the cultural experience that a holiday like this is all about. In short, it is everything Bespoke stands for.
Easter is a lovely time of the year to get away to one of the UK Bespoke hotels. It’s the first holiday when it really starts to feel like spring, and with any luck the sun will come out, the daffodils will be in full bloom, the days begin to get significantly longer, and the clocks will be changing.
All in all, there’s a positive feeling in the air and long, lazy summer evenings to look forward to. Just because we’re enjoying the same time of year however, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we’re all looking for the same things in our Easter break. So here are five hotels to visit for very different experiences over the bank holiday weekend.
Spring gardens: hopefully the Easter weekend will bring blue skies and warmer weather, and if you’re anything like us then one of the great joys of this time of the year is getting out into the fresh air. After all those winter months of cuddling by log fires (because of course that’s what we spend all our time doing from November to March), now is the time for walking in the garden, smiling at the daffodils, and watching the blossom as it scatters from the trees.
With that in mind, Cotswold House Hotel and Spa in Gloucestershire, with its tranquil gardens that lead to the spa at the end of a cobbled path, is an idyllic place to spend the weekend. It probably goes without saying given that the Cotswolds as a rule are chocolate box perfect, but peace, quiet, tranquility, and exceptional food coupled with gardens that are just manicured enough without being pretentious makes for an escape that encapsulates the best of British.
Sunday roast: food is one of the great priorities at Easter, and whatever you find yourself doing on the Saturday, there can surely be no debate that Sunday is about the perfect roast lunch before tucking into that chocolate egg… With a spectacular view of both Lake Ullswater and the Helvellyn mountain range, the aptly titled Inn on the Lake in Cumbria from Bespoke Hotels has won Cumbria Tourism Awards for Large Hotel of the Year as well as Outstanding Customer Service. It has 15 acres of grounds sweeping to the shores, and five star standards in addition to the awe-inspiring location.
Food is every inch as important as all the other details at this hotel, and as such the Lake View Restaurant has two AA Rosettes and emphasises local produce. Of particular note on this occasion, you guessed it, is their Sunday lunch, which features a traditional roast with a luxurious touch complete with all the expected trimmings for a perfect Easter weekend.
Romantic mini-break: as it is a school holiday it’s always a little bit of a juggling act between finding hotels that are suitable for families and those who want to get away for a long romantic weekend together, but few things spell romance quite like a castle befitting a role in the best loved fairytales. Tulloch Castle in Scotland fits just that bill. Dating back to the 12th century it has a lively history of changing fortunes and scandalous intrigue.
These days it’s all a little calmer without the Chief of the Clan ruling the roost, but with painstakingly restored original features, a 250-year old paneled great hall and 20 well-appointed bedrooms filled with character and charm, not to mention fantastic food, it’s an escape to the country that’s ideal for couples who want some peace and quiet over the weekend.
Spa break: despite the abundance of chocolate eggs at this time of year, spring is a brilliant time to clear away any remaining cobwebs from the winter months and make yourself feel fresh as a daisy for all those summer holidays that you’re doubtless looking forward to. For that reason, a spa break over the Easter weekend can prove the perfect way to simply start feeling better, especially with a few more days to play with than your average weekend allows.
The Lifehouse Spa and Hotel in Essex is surrounded by 12 acres of English Heritage gardens, and combines a historic background (including visits from the likes of JM Barrie and Winston Churchill), with a contemporary glass building. It’s light, airy and the spa itself is overseen by naturopath Sue Davis who curates spa breaks with her expert eye to make sure you achieve what you want to, whether that’s simple time out and feel good factor, a full-on detox, or tackling a particular health concern. The knowledge on hand is extensive without being domineering, making it ideal for everyone from seasoned spa goers to those who are quite literally dipping their toe in the water.
Family friendly: of course, nothing beats happy smiling faces on Easter morning, and with school holidays in full swing it’s about quality time for families where everyone can relax and unwind – not always an easy thing to achieve, but let’s give it a go. Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire combines a fantastic location on the edge of Sherwood Forest with contemporary design and a welcoming atmosphere, family friendly restaurant, and their New Leaf Spa as well.
Crucially there are plenty of activities available on site for guests of all ages, as well as others nearby such as pony trekking, cycling, walking, and the Clumber Jungle, which offers everything from archery to laser tag and Segway trails. Suffice to say, there really is something to make sure everyone has a happy Easter!
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