Category Archives: Country Hotels

It may well be the end of summer, but it’s not quite the end of summer festivals in and around Bespoke boutique hotels

Although international was very much the buzzword of summer 2012, with nothing less than the Olympic games drawing the world’s attention to the UK, 2013 has a much more local feel.

But that doesn’t mean the party’s over, oh no! Celebrations of food and drink, alongside carnivals and other such extravaganzas will still be taking place all around the UK this September, with live music events outside the Bermondsey Square Hotel taking place across the last few weekends. Dubbed Bring it to Bermondsey, this event has been a tremendous success so far, with talent from the borough and across London joining with the local community to dance, sing, and fill their bellies. So why not take advantage before it’s all over and treat yourself to an overnight stay right in the heart of the action at Bermondsey Square Hotel.

But where do all these festivals come from?

There are many different types of festivals both in the UK and around the world, with notable examples including Halloween, Saturnalia, and Christmas. The word “fest” actually derives from the Middle English, from the Middle French word festivus, which in turn grew out of the Latin word festivus. Festival was first recorded as a noun in 1589. Before that it had been used as an verb from the fourteenth century, meaning the act of celebrating a church holiday. The etymology of feast is very similar to that of festival. The word “feste” comes from Middle English, in turn from Middle French, and prior to that from the Latin word festa. The term first came into usage as a noun circa 1200, and feast started to be used as a verb around a century later. A festival is a special occasion of feasting or celebration, which is usually religious.

Function

Festivals of many types serve to meet specific needs, as well as to provide entertainment. These times of celebration offer a sense of belonging for religious, social, or geographical groups. Modern festivals that focus on cultural or ethnic topics seek to inform members of their traditions and bring enjoyment to attendees, whereas in past times festivals were occasions when the elderly shared stories and provided a sense of unity among families. And what better than to combine one with an Autumn break at one of Bespoke’s boutique hotels.

Other Festivals near Bespoke Hotels

If you can’t make it to the capital to enjoy Bring it to Bermondsey, never fear! miniBite Weekends are taking place throughout October at Bespoke properties in the Cotswolds. These special weekends feature Artisan Food Fairs, special dinners and breakfasts, cookery schools, fungal forays, Christmas markets and much, much more.

It all takes place in the North Cotswolds around the picturesque village of Chipping Camden, which is coincidentally right where you’ll find two of the best-loved Bespoke luxury hotels, Cotswold House Hotel and The Noel Arms. It’s shaping up to be a truly great way to spend an Autumn weekend!

Furthermore, if you’re planning a break in Scotland and feeling romantic in early October, why not visit the Scottish Wedding Show in Glasgow as well as staying in one of the 22 hotels Bespoke has to offer across the region?

Whatever type of hotel you like, small or large, boutique, family, city or country you can find one to give you a great offer this Autumn, as Bespoke Hotels get prepared for the Winter season with typical exuberance.

And the best part is that most events are extremely affordable, or even free! So beat the post-Summer blues with another great Autumn break in Bespoke boutique hotels.

10 Reasons Local Food is used in Bespoke Restaurants

When you eat in one of Bespoke’s restaurants, many of which have been awarded AA rosettes for the quality of the food they serve, you’ll often find that produce has been sourced locally. For example, Jordi, our head chef at Bermondsey Square makes regular forages into the nearby Borough Market, while Jonathan at The Lugger works just a stone’s throw from the fisherman of Portloe as they haul in their daily catches. A little further North, Ryan at Stonefield Castle sails out onto Loch Fyne to catch lobster and crab every morning, whilst Brett at Cotswold House sources produce from local Cotswold farms and producers whenever possible.

But why, you may ask, do our chefs take such pride in doing this, and what advantages does it bring to the food on your plate at Bespoke restaurants? Well, for all you doubters, we’ve compiled 10 mightily good reasons:-

1. Eating local means more for the local economy. According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a pound spent locally generates twice as much for the local economy. When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community after every transaction.

2. Locally grown produce is fresher. Obviously! Produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, whereas produce that you purchase locally has often been picked within the previous 24 hours. This freshness not only affects the taste of the food in many Bespoke restaurants, but the nutritional value which can decline over time.

3. Local food just tastes better. Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours? If not, you’re missing out!

4. Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen. Being local, the produce will be handled less and won’t have undergone the rigors of shipping. This means that you’ll have strawberries that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and vegetables that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute.

5. Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than eating organic. In a March, 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles traveled by organic food to arrive at our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying it in the first place.

6. Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons. By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at the peak of their taste, at their most abundant, and at their least expensive. A point always appreciated by Bespoke restaurants.

7. Buying locally grown food creates the perfect recipe for great stories. Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who bakes bread down the road, knowing the story of your food is a powerful part of enjoying a meal.

8. Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism. Food with less distance to travel is less susceptible to harmful contamination, something the chefs at Bespoke restaurants are acutely aware of.

9. Local food translates to more variety. When a farmer is producing food that won’t have to travel long distances, won’t have a shorter shelf life, and won’t be subjected to a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to experiment and try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would not normally make it to large supermarket chains. Local producers often grows different varieties of their crops from year to year, a fact that allows the chefs at Bespoke restaurants to get a bit more creative than usual and experiment with different ways to prepare them.

10. Supporting local providers aids responsible land development. When you buy local, you give those with local open space – farms and pastures – an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped. In short, you keep our green and pleasant land just that!

When you really think about it, local produce is not only good for the farmer, but also the chefs at Bespoke restaurants and therefore the customer who sits down for a meal in one of our many award winning establishments.

The next time you stay or visit a Bespoke Hotel enjoy a great meal in the knowledge that it consists of local produce.

High time to visit Blooming Gardens near Bespoke Luxury Hotels

It is now August; the eighth month of the Gregorian calendar and traditionally the warmest time of the year. Although the Met Office didn’t forecast one, a heatwave duly arrived in mid July (along with a certain baby).
The UK has experienced everything from delightfully warm summers (with the occasional hot one thrown in), to cold soggy ones, though in recent years we have experienced the temperature certainly seems to be rising. Last year may have been the wettest summer for quite some time, but whatever the weather it’s always a great time to visit some of the UK’s best gardens, in and around Bespoke luxury hotels.

Whether you are looking to go to Scotland, the Cotswolds, or East Anglia you can be sure to find a beautiful garden to visit nearby. What’s more, if you choose a Bespoke break in one of their luxury hotels this summer you’ll be able to find a hotel near to one.

One always hopes that the weather will be fine for the summer solstice, at least warm enough to sit out until the last rays of the sun drop behind the trees and over the horizon without shivering to death in the process.

Over the last few weeks we’ve each been fortunate enough to spend some evenings enjoying the sun, but you could have been lounging in the garden of your favourite Bespoke luxury hotel, dreaming of warmth and long, hot days. After all, we’d hate to return to winter without having at least spent a few evenings in the garden with a glass of wine to stave off the impending chill.

It’s good to know that gardens are almost planted up for the summer months. I say ‘almost’ as there are always corners that could do with a few more plants to complete the image. A garden consists of a backbone of hardy plants that carry it through the seasons, but during the summer months a garden gets some ‘oomph’, and the illusion that it actually ‘is’, at least a thousand miles further south of where it actually is.

And where better to visit this summer than Bespoke luxury hotels with stunning gardens? In Scotland there’s Stonefield Castle, set in 60 acres of beautiful woodland gardens on the shores of Loch Fyne and just two miles from the idyllic fishing village of Tarbert, one of the most attractive villages on the Mull of Kintyre Peninsula. And if that’s not enough then why not also visit Gleddoch House Golf Hotel & Spa, itself only 19 miles from Glasgow but set in a vast 360 acres with spectacular views over the River Clyde, Ben Lomond and the rolling Renfrewshire hills.

If something a little southern is more up your street, then it doesn’t get much better than the Cotswold House Hotel & Spa. The gateway to discovering everything that is glorious about the Cotswolds region of England with a wealth of historic houses and gardens, a superb choice of independent shops and many of England’s prettiest villages.

If that’s still not southern enough then there’s always The Suffolk Golf & Spa Hotel on the outskirts of the historic town of Bury St Edmunds, in easy reach of a wealth of glorious gardens and the rich countryside of East Anglia.
We all deserve some really mild weather – I say mild as consistent heat may be asking a wee bit too much of the British – especially for visiting the glorious gardens of the UK. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are living on an island floating off the coast of Europe at fairly high latitude.

So make your choice and book your Summer luxury hotels break here. But don’t hang about, or you’ll soon find the blooms have all but disappeared!

Want a Luxury Hotel then Treat Yourself Like a King and Stay In a Bespoke Castle

When it comes to castles, no other building is quite so steeped in history. Once occupied by the elite in the land, many have since found new lives welcoming the rest of us mere mortals inside their high walls. Savvy travellers can now enjoy sumptuous suites, grand views and fantastic dining spaces once reserved exclusively for the aristocracy. If you’ve ever dreamed of peering out from a lofty turret or gazing across a grand moat, now’s the time to channel your inner princess or knight in shining armour and book a stay at one of Bespoke’s former castles turned luxury hotels.

Popular castles in Great Britain may have been built hundreds of years ago, but some can be over 1,000 years old. A lucky few people still live in castles, others get married in them and some like the ones below have been transformed into luxury hotels.

What is a castle?

Castles can be described as fortified structures, predominantly built in Europe and the Middle East. The earliest ones were occupied by royal families and ruling officials throughout the middle ages.

The fortification element is vital to any castle and explains why so many are associated with the curtain walls and arrow slits that grace postcards and innumerable blockbuster films.

The Normans in particular were expert castle builders, especially after the programme of construction ordered by William the Conqueror following the famed battles of 1066. At this time, the UK saw a great deal of castle building, beginning across Southern England and ultimately growing to cover the entirety of Great Britain.

William I used stone to build enormous castles which became spectacular residences for the various Lords of the Manor and their families, with enough soldiers and supplies thrown in to defend themselves from attack.

Finding that they were significantly outnumbered during the period, the Normans placed great emphasis on the use of castles as an effective means of preventing and suppressing any uprisings from the local population.

A good place to visit and live?

The very earliest of the castles were simple wooden buildings, constructed on the tops of hills in order to gain a vantage point and ensure it was possible to see oncoming enemies. In line with this siege mentality, these early castles contained everything a person could need to survive inside their walls for months on end.

It was only after the Normans felt that they had controlled the British people that they took the time to replace the wooden buildings with large stone entities, which are easily recognisable today.

The castles provided a great place for people to live, especially against the increasingly better-armed invading forces. Plus, as many builders created a wide and deep moat all around the property, with just a drawbridge providing access to the inside, it prevented any attackers from easily gaining access.

The Bespoke Castles

Massive stone walls and historic baronial bedrooms are tucked away in some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. These are the ideal sports for history lovers, sitting high above landscapes of olive groves and forests. Exuding a strong sense of Scotland’s past within their fortified walls, each one has its own unique spin and character.

For example, Stonefield Castle is a superb example of Scottish baronial architecture. Built in 1837, it retains many of its original furnishings, with wood panelling, ornate ceilings and marble fireplaces all on show.

Beyond its internal splendour, Stonefield Castle is set in 60 acres of woodland gardens by the shores of Loch Fyne, with 32 individual en suite bedrooms complete with views over the garden and waters. It is just two miles from the idyllic fishing village of Tarbert, one of the most attractive places to visit on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula.

Meanwhile, Tulloch Castle dates back to the 12th century, with a rich history allied to its ever changing fortunes. Nowadays, it’s a magnificent luxury hotel, perfectly equipped to welcome both leisure and business travellers.

As with Stonfield Castle, Tulloch retains many of its period features, including the 250-year old panelled Great Hall and painstakingly restored original fireplaces and ceilings.

In days of old, only the local laird or the chief of the regional clan would have been able to set foot inside a Scottish highland castle. Today, Tulloch Castle has 20 en suite bedrooms, each with their own unique character and charm for all to experience.

This summer, why not take a break at one of Bespoke’s castles where luxury hotel facilities meet ancient, historic charm. Check out the latest deals here.