Britain’s best boltholes for under £50 a night

Whether it’s train fares, energy bills or the supermarket shop, prices are rising and belts are tightening. But if you’re desperate to get away from it all, it’s still possible to have a break on a budget – however many people you’re taking with you. From cosy couples’ cabins to beach houses big enough for two families, and from Scotland to Sussex, these seven boltholes offer spring getaways with plenty of wow factor – and all cost no more than £50 per person per night. For couples  Tahuna Bothies, Aberdeenshire Sleeps: 2-4Price: From £100 a night (£50 each for two people)  These wooden huts on a corner of Scottish coast

Murder most romantic: Burgh Island Hotel reviewed

The Burgh Island Hotel lives on a tidal island in a deserted part of south Devon. The directions for visiting are very detailed. You drive along the deserted country road, and at a certain point – just before you lose mobile telephone reception – you must stop to telephone the hotel, and they tell you where to park your car on the mainland, and they will send the car across the beach and meet you in Bigbury-on-Sea. You drive on and eventually you see a brightly lit Art Deco palace under a cliff. It was built by a filmmaker called Archibald Nettlefold (Human Desires, The Hellcat), the heir to an

Martin Vander Weyer

Yes, Jay Powell is the compromise candidate for the Federal Reserve – but not a bad one at that

Perhaps we should be relieved that Donald Trump has made a dull appointment to succeed Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve, America’s central bank. He might have picked another alt-right wacko or Kremlin stooge — or his Las Vegas buddy Phil Ruffin, the casino owner he allegedly thought of sending as envoy to China. But in fact he has chosen Jerome ‘Jay’ Powell, an identikit lawyer-turned-banker who has been called the candidate of ‘continuity’ and ‘compromise’ after a late run to beat frontrunner Kevin Warsh, a former Trump adviser with more aggressive opinions on the need for monetary tightening. The most interesting facts about Powell are that (unlike

The best hotels for bookworms

It’s hard to beat escaping into a book – but for bookworms looking for an escape that jumps off the page, there are plenty of hotels that cater to a love of all things literary. From a Cornish coastal retreat that’s been immortalised in fiction to a book-strewn adults-only resort on a South Pacific island, here are eight of the best hotels in the world for book-lovers. The only question that remains is what holiday reading to take with you. Carbis Bay Hotel, Cornwall A luxury beachfront resort just outside St Ives, Carbis Bay Hotel appears as The Sands Hotel in two of Rosamunde Pilcher’s novels, The Shell Seekers and

High on the hog: The Pig at Bridge Place reviewed

The Pig at Bridge Place is not a pig in possession of a country house, but I would be for it. You cannot have enough pigs, or any edible fauna. It is, rather, a hotel inside a Jacobean mansion — or, rather, part of a Jacobean mansion, the rest burnt down, and is all the better for it — in a pleasingly unkempt part of Kent, just beyond Canterbury. There are ten Pigs, dotted across the south coast as if in homage to Armada beacons. They are the successor to the Soho House brand, which is looking increasingly dusty, and in velvet. My main objection to Babington House is that

An utterly convincing dreamworld: The Ritz reviewed

The Ritz is still here, and still gaudy. No grand hotel in London feels quite so complete, if pink; as if it landed like a Tardis on Green Park. There is no real life here, and there shouldn’t be. Each guest travels with their own novella. There are jewels in the window and brides on the stairs. Lady Thatcher died here, in a corner suite. Don’t ask which one. They won’t say, to discourage ghouls, party hacks and perverts. You cannot know if you are sleeping in her bed, and that is not even the oddest thing about the Ritz. The staff, who dress like toy soldiers, are charming in

Feasting on memories of Venice

Dining in catastrophe used to be more interesting: but we must be fair. It was a smaller (and wetter) catastrophe: the Acqua Alta in Venice. That is when the sea rises and you put bin bags on your legs; and people push you off the duckboards while other people waltz in the water, sweetly and poorly; and inexperienced tourists turn to hotel managers and say, with loss in their eyes: when can we go outside without bin bags on our legs? The experienced hotel manager will reply, with mirrored grief: ‘Madam, it is the sea [and what do you want me to do about it, you imbecile]?’ After paddling in

The weird and wonderful world of hotel carpets

Consider the carpet. In all likelihood, you usually don’t. It’s simply something beneath your feet, soft or scratchy, bright or beige, thick or thin. But in a new book, Bill Young asks you to pause and really look at a particular genre of floor-padding: the carpets in the hotels around the world. In Hotel Carpets, the long-neglected designs pop from the pages. Young, a corporate pilot, would often send pictures of hotel carpets to his wife and daughter while he was travelling. ‘Because I spend most of my life in hotels, that’s just one thing that was sticking out,’ Young says, in a video interview from his home in Dallas,

The Connaught

You may have noticed the Connaught a little more since 2011, when ‘Silence’, the steamy fountain by Japanese ‘architect philosopher’ Tadao Ando, was installed outside the entrance. But actually the hotel doesn’t want to be noticed. It prides itself on guaranteeing famous guests their privacy. Eric Clapton added his own layer of protection by checking in as ‘Mr W.B. Albion’ (he’s a West Brom fan). Alec Guinness valued its discretion, and was annoyed when Jack Nicholson’s stay during the filming of Batman attracted the paparazzi. The hotel in turn had its own issues with Jack and his entourage. As the star put it to a friend: ‘They have a shit fit

Cabbages and kings

The first pastry cook Chaïm Soutine painted came out like a collapsed soufflé. The sitter for ‘The Pastry Cook’ (c.1919) was Rémy Zocchetto, a 17-year-old apprentice at the Garetta Hotel in Céret in southern France. He is deflated, lopsided, slouch-shouldered, in a chef’s jacket several sizes too big for him. His hat is askew, his body a scramble of egg-white paint. Soutine painted at least six cooks in their kitchen livery. In their chef’s whites they look like meringues that have not set (‘Pastry Cook of Cagnes’, 1922), îles flottantes that do not float (‘Cook of Cagnes’, c.1924), and, in the case of the ‘Little Pastry Cook’ (c.1921) from the

Traveller’s Notebook

I was drinking in the bar of Manhattan’s Nomad Hotel when in snuck The Most Seen Human Ever To Have Lived. This is an old puzzle: who is the most ‘observed in the flesh’ individual in history? Since we’re discounting depictions (paintings, photographs, films), it has to be someone alive in the jet age with a sustained international career and multi-generational appeal. John Paul II — who visited 129 countries — is a contender as, to a lesser extent, are Billy Graham, the Queen, Hitler, Stalin and Mao. But, for my money, there’s only one candidate: someone who’s still zigzagging the globe after five decades, appearing regularly in front of

Zurich’s wild side

On the green edge of Zurich, where this neat and tidy city melts into neat and tidy countryside, an icon of Zurich’s hedonistic heyday has been reborn. The Atlantis Hotel reopened last December, restoring an old landmark to the city and reconnecting prim and proper Zurich with its rebellious past. If you’ve only ever been to Zurich on business, you may find it hard to think of this staid city as rebellious, but bear with me: Zurich really does have a wild side, and in the 1970s and 1980s the Atlantis was where it could be found. From Eric Clapton to Elton John, from Freddie Mercury to Frank Zappa, the

Real legs and fake people

The Soho Hotel is an actors’ hotel. They come for press junkets and interviews that reveal nothing because there is nothing to reveal; in fact, I have long suspected that this consuming nothingness, screamed across newsprint with all the conviction of denial, is the point of them; anything to evade reality and bring forth the realm of stupid. So it doesn’t matter that the Soho Hotel doesn’t know what it is; that is a benefit, quite possibly a design. Actors don’t know who they are either, and this is why they feel comfortable in the Soho Hotel. It is another mirror. It is part of the Firmdale Group, which has

A touch of class | 7 July 2016

Cliveden is a good review for a divided country and I have waited, not too long, for it to feel resonant for Spectator readers; it aches with class-consciousness. It has food pens dependent on your status — whether you are eating in the National Trust grounds, or the swanky (I love this word; it’s so bitter) hotel inside the ‘manor’. And even if you are staying in the swanky manor, famous as the venue where John Profumo exploited the not-recovering child-abuse victim Christine Keeler — don’t call me a sighing Guardianista, I have done my research and she once aborted a child with a pen — in a swimming pool,

A monkey-brained case for Donald Trump

A few years ago I was asked to speak at a conference in New York. ‘Where would be the best place to stay?’ I asked my assistant. ‘Well, you’re booked into The Trump SoHo’, she said, careful to pronounce the capital H. ‘Are you completely deranged? Do I look like a man with a craving for gold taps and Swarovski-encrusted towelling robes?’ ‘The conference organiser has booked it. They’ve got a special rate.’ So a few weeks later a Lincoln Town Car (which after a long flight, for some unfathomable reason, is the best car in the world) dropped me in front of The Donald’s hotel. I have to say,

Diary – 26 May 2016

Why do we assume all doctors are good? We don’t think there are no bad cooks or bad plumbers. But everyone thinks their surgeon is the best in the world. Recommended to one such, I booked an appointment. He rattled off his spiel about the pros and cons of surgery, physio or jabs for a bad shoulder, while looking at the ceiling and at his watch. He waved away my scan: ‘I never look at those. Just heaving oceans of muscle. They all look the same.’ He favoured surgery, but I asked for a jab. It hurt like hell and made no difference. So I went to another ‘top of his

Soho in Somerset

It is summer and the listless metropolitan thinks of grass. It cannot afford to stay at Durslade Farmhouse, Somerset, a branch of the Hauser & Wirth art gallery that serves food and plays cow noises in a former barn as authentic country folk rip their eyeballs out. Locals talk about Durslade Farm as a child that died. I think it is a Holocaust memorial for cows, but oblivious. Babington House is the country branch, and it is open to members, their friends, and hotel guests. There is a a spa called the Cowshed that sells ‘Lazy Cow’ and ‘Moody Cow’ beauty products (misogyny masquerading as irony), a restaurant and a

If you’re riding the FTSE rebound you might still want to sell in May

When the FTSE100 fell close to 5,500 in February, we all said ‘Mr Bear is back’. On Tuesday the index hit a high for this year of 6,400, and we all wondered whether Mr Bear had done what I said he wouldn’t, and shuffled back to hibernation. But the truth is that shares have lately moved in parallel with the oil price, which has perked up partly for technical reasons including temporary curtailment of supply from Kuwait; and a major element of the FTSE recovery is in commodity stocks that had been wildly oversold. So we shouldn’t read any great swing of confidence into a market still 600 points down

Why we need migrants

This is perhaps not the best moment in history to extol migrants from the developing world or Eastern Europe, but the fact remains that without them my life, and I suspect the life of many other people in the West, would be much poorer and more constricted than it is. A migrant is not just a migrant, of course. Indeed, to speak of migrants in general is to deny them agency or even characteristics of their own, to assume that they are just units and that their fate depends only on how the receiving country receives them and not at all on their own motives, efforts or attributes, including their