Interiors: No More Love Shack, Baby
Take inspiration for your bedroom from the cream of the country’s designer hotels.
Take the lead from the new breed of designer hotels and turn your bedroom into a boudoir. Now there’s no excuse for turning down that dirty weekend
It used to be one of life’s givens that if you went in search of some romantic R&R, you took your aesthetic life in your hands. Dirty-weekend hotels came in three decorative flavours: sleazy seaside knocking shop, dusty country house or dodgy temple to ersatz tradition (wall-to-wall chintz in England, wall-to-wall tartan in Scotland, with a Corby trouser press in the corner and “full tea – and coffee-making facilities”).
Now all that’s changed. Mr & Mrs Smith (Spy Publishing £19.95), a new guide to the most stylish weekend escapes in Britain, reveals the extent to which, these days, people don’t just decorate their hotels – they design them. They’ve brought modernist furniture to country manors and put Bang & Olufsen sound systems in Georgian rectories. They have realized that the road to weekend bliss lies not in chichi bedrooms modeled on the inside of Laura Ashley’s chocolate box, but in glamorous simplicity – giant pillows, goose-down duvets and a bathroom full of Jo Malone. Some have breathed new life into the old-fashioned grandeur of four-poster beds, gilt mirrors and opulent chandeliers, or devised a pared-down version of ethnicity, resulting in hotels that are more of a destination than a nostalgia trip.
Of course, escapist comfort is just what you want when you’re planning to indulge in some, well, room service. Dirty weekends away for a couple of days of wild excess. And there’s nothing guaranteed to spark a sexual frisson more than surroundings that make you feel utterly glamorous and spoilt. Sex in a hotel room is the legal equivalent of doing it in the open. Now, if only your bedroom at home had the same effect…
No arguments about who get their back jammed against the taps here. And no lame “Where’s the soap?” jokes. At 17th-century Barnsley House (that’s Barnsley, Gloucestershire, not “Barnsleh”, Yorkshire), rooms are kitted out with ultra-cool modern furniture. One has twin baths for sybaritic romantic-weekend bathing. Not to mention a television screen for watching Fatal Attraction simultaneously. Victoriaplum (0870 120 8338) sells similar baths and fittings.
Blakes hotel in London (designed by Anouska Hempel) is known for its decadent bedrooms, which put a contemporary spin on oriental opulence. And it doesn’t come more opulent – or raunchy – than this, with red and yellow to get your blood pumping. No wonder Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit spent their honeymoon here. For stripy fabrics in sumptuous silks, check out the selection at Henry Bertrand (020 7349 1477).
Who needs walls when you’ve got a clifftop? At The Driftwood, near Portscatho, Cornwall, urban types find seclusion, comfort and spectacular views. Not that the views inside are bad: it’s done out in a modern seaside mix of blues, creams and natural woods, and there’s a cosy cabin halfway down the cliff. Perfect for rugging up together. For outdoor furniture, try the Indian Ocean Trading Company (020 8675 4808).
The Onion Store
Who said an outside loo can’t be romantic? At The Onion Store, near Romsey, on the edge of the New Forest, they’ve made a virtue of rural simplicity. Canopied beds, draped muslin, tree-trunk balustrades, no television or radio – the place is made for lurve.
Wild opulence is what it’s all about at The Witchery by the Castle, Edinburgh. The place is filled with antiques and ecclesiastical iconography – you feel you’re shacked up in a Venetian palace. It’s so over the top that you probably wouldn’t be out of place strutting around in your Versace – or out of it.
The Bell, in Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, Wales, does a good line in modern rustic. Design is as much about what you leave out as what you put in, and sometimes you want nothing more sophisticated than flagstone floors and a couple of armchairs next to the fire. A word of warning, though: that welly-and-fishing-hat combo probably won’t stir your lover to heights of passion.