Northumberland sister, The Lord Crewe Arms at Blanchland included in travel guide’s ‘Pubs’ sectionUnveiled at the end of March as a 16-bedroom ‘restaurant-with-rooms’, The Painswick in the Cotswolds has been named by The Sunday Times’ Travel section as its ‘Hotel of the Year’ in 2016’s guide to the ‘Ultimate 100 British Hotels’.
The introduction to the fourth annual guide - published on Sunday 16th October - explains that the Sunday Times’ reviewers sought out ‘Comfort, service and value’ as essentials for the 100 names to be included and that “...a hotel also needs to have qualities that are less tangible - personality and warmth.”
Perched high on the historic hilltop town of the same name, The Painswick is hailed as ‘Hotel of the Year’ with the paper’s Travel Editor, Stephen Bleach commenting, “It’s simply a beautiful building in a beautiful place, run with enthusiasm, care and a touch of humour. It offers simple things done well - and when you do lots and lots of those, as the Painswick does, they add up to something special.”
Formerly the Cotswolds88 hotel, The Painswick was bought by The Calcot Collection in spring 2015 and then closed for a year’s renovation. This March, it was renamed and relaunched as the hip younger sister to Calcot and Barnsley House, also in the Cotswolds, and The Lord Crewe Arms at Blanchland, Northumberland.
Tapping into the avant-garde nature of the village of Painswick and the neighbouring area of Stroud - and well-positioned for Cheltenham too - this 18th century Palladian house overlooks the Slad Valley in stately splendour. Inside, a refreshing sense of fun and spontaneity is at play across The Painswick’s eclectic, colourful and punchy menus and interiors.
On arrival, guests discover a Mediterranean-accented, deli-café leading into a 34-seater statement restaurant where the easy-going menus include the likes of Parmesan custard with Xeres and heritage tomatoes; Lobster and black pudding pie with lobster gravy and Raspberry soufflé. (Previously at The Chef’s Table and The Trouble House - where he gained a Michelin star - in Tetbury, Michael’s CV also lists La Tante Claire, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and City Rhodes amongst others).
The Painswick’s cocktail bar is in prime position upstairs alongside the spaciously restful Morley Horder lounge as a games room (complete with blue-baised pool table) runs off it. The Clutterbucks is a striking private dining/meeting room for 14 while two Calcot Spa spin-off beauty treatment rooms (featuring the Elemis range) also add to The Painswick’s many treats. Nine of the 16 bedrooms are arranged in the main house with seven in the adjoining garden wing as the ‘infinity garden’ absorbs the Slad Valley - one of Stroud’s Five Valleys - below. The Painswick is perfectly sized and appointed for exclusive-use hire and, with a civil licence, it is a popular wedding venue too. The Calcot Collection’s in-house interior designer, Nicky Farquhar and co-designer, Cathy Birtles have created schemes that sparkle and fizz throughout.
At the time of its relaunch, The Calcot Collection’s Executive Chairman, Richard Ball promised a fresh approach with an affordable splash of indulgence: “The Painswick will root itself in the very appealing middle ground that is opening up between luxury at full-tilt and posh pubs on the rise.”
Greeting the news of The Painswick’s success, he said, “Once again, The Sunday Times has produced a fabulous guide full of variety, colour and insight around stand-out hotels across the length and breadth of the country. For The Painswick to have been singled out as ‘Hotel of the Year’ is a truly remarkable achievement and we are all thrilled to bits. So many have brought such tremendous dedication and passion to the shaping of The Painswick and establishing its foothold within a British hotel scene that is spoiled for choice. The Sunday Times’ recognition now really does place The Painswick on the map.”
This year’s Sunday Times’ ‘Ultimate 100’ gives The Calcot Collection cause for double celebration as The Lord Crewe Arms at Blanchland appears in the ‘Pubs: Join the Inn Crowd’ category for the third consecutive year. Unveiled by The Calcot Collection in April 2014 after an extensive renovation, the historic 21-bedroom posh-pub/hotel on the Northumberland/Durham border was named as ‘Pub of the Year’ that autumn in the ‘Ultimate 100’. The Sunday Times describes it as having, “commandeered much of Blanchland village: the bar is in a vaulted crypt and the chefs roast meat in a medieval fireplace.“
“With great thanks to the Sunday Times for its continued recognition of The Calcot Collection, I also hugely thank and congratulate The Painswick’s General Manager, Luke Millikin alongside Michael Bedford, Nicky Farquhar, Cathy Birtles and every other member of their teams. Hats off too to all The Lord Crewe crew, led by General Manager, Tommy Mark and Head Chef, Simon Hicks. It’s marvellous to see everyone’s inspired work this year now being so roundly applauded,” adds Richard Ball.