the gunton arms – norfolk

:: by Lizzie
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We really don’t do enough exploring of the English countryside. As city dwellers, and lovers, Danny and I tend to fly to our favourite European cities for special treats, long weekends or anniversary holidays, long before even thinking about the beauties closer to home. We decided it was time to remedy this and experience the best of British one weekend in August 2015. With the company and help of our friends Ben and Knomes (who essentially planned the whole trip – thanks guys!) we made our way to Norfolk one Friday morning for a long weekend at The Gunton Arms.

 

The Gunton Arms describes itself on its website as a traditional pub with 8 rooms near Cromer in North Norfolk. Then come the exciting bits… It’s set in the grounds of an enormous historic park, full of deer, beautiful cottages and grand houses. It’s worth noting here that we made the faux pas of arriving from the station having walked through the extensive private grounds of the park. It didn’t go down well at all with the women who kindly received us and showed us to our rooms, but it was a very lovely walk (and probably worth getting in a bit of trouble for).

 

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One of the things we were most looking forward to and which, it’s fair to say, we enjoyed to the extreme, was the food. Their chef, Stuart Tattersall, cooks using seasonal local ingredients and the meat, often cooked on the open fire in the Elk room, is out of this world. I am a meat lover. I always have been. I enjoy fruit and vegetables very much. Grains, cereals and pulses are all great. But beautifully cooked beef, there’s nothing like it. I would go so far as to say that, when sampling the rib of beef for two to share with Ben on our first night, I was utterly elated and quite frankly, visibly giddy. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Side note – we greedily asked for peppercorn sauce as well as the bearnaise it traditionally comes with. I suggest you do the same.

 

From the breakfasts of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, drop scones, bacon and honey (all included in the room price) and the dinners of Ivor’s crab pasta, sausage and mash with onion gravy and the special moment when we had two whole roast chickens and all the trimmings arrive at our table, everything that passed our lips was delicious.

 

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Ivor Braka, art dealer, owner of The Gunton Arms and I assume, inspiration for the above mentioned crab pasta, has filled the place with contemporary art by the likes of Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Julian Opie and Gilbert and George. It was interesting to see how this has been received by the locals and many visitors who wrote in the guest book about their dismay about the landscape being ruined by ‘sculpture!’ Their choice of inverted comas, not mine. We enjoyed the sculpture – maybe a little too much (as you can see from Ben’s king of the castle moment below) and the art on the walls too. Not all of it was to my taste (certainly not as beautiful or inspiring as the art collection of one Stuart Evans – apologies, I boast) but it was interesting and different and certainly added to the place’s appeal.

 

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We were lucky enough to be in Gunton for the weekend of Cromer Carnival. A short car journey into Cromer (Gunton Arms manager Lee was kind enough to give us a lift as taxis can be hard to come by) led to many delights. Too many to mention here so do keep your English seaside loving eyes open for next week’s blog post – Today in Cromer.

 

san giorgio hotel – mykonos

:: by Lizzie
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Mykonos had been on the top of my must visit list for some time and it seemed like the perfect chilled get-away for mine and Daniel’s 2nd wedding anniversary. So, we booked, we packed, we travelled, we relaxed, we ate, we sun-bathed and most importantly, we loved it. The largest contributing factor as to why our mini break of 3 nights was so very recharging and inspiring was the hotel we stayed in, the San Giorgio Hotel.

 

The San Giorgio Hotel project truly began over 15 years ago, in the mid 90s, when Thomas Heyne and Mario Hertel met on the shores of Ibiza. Heyne, from Augsburg, had turned down a lucrative career in construction to run a nightclub in Ulm, Germany. Fellow Bavarian Hertel had opened a café in Bayreuth when he was just 18 and eventually built up his own mini hospitality empire of restaurants, bars, cafes, and clubs. In 2012, after nearly a decade running Mykonos’ world-famous Paradise Club together, Heyne and Hertel teamed up with Design Hotels™ to create the San Giorgio Hotel, a destination for likeminded free spirits.

 

The result is a super chilled haven where attention to detail is key. Everything is beautiful but understated and never trys too hard (just like the guests). The decor of freshly painted white walls and woodwork with furnishings of kelim tapestry, vintage or reclaimed wooden furniture (be it antique or drift) and woven raffia lampshades sets just the right tone and fits the atmosphere perfectly.

 

There are hammocks everywhere, even floating bean bags for the pool and guests aren’t afraid to use them. We were lucky enough to have a room with a veranda and our very own hammock to while away the afternoon in. The whole place is designed to slow you down and encourage rest and relaxation. Or at least it is in May and September which are the ‘off-peak’ months. I can imagine it’s pretty bonkers in July and August which is high party season.

 

We spent most days doing something like this:

– waking from a deep, peaceful sleep in our netted queen sized bed

– eating a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, mini pastries, cooked eggs, amazing juices and hot chocolate (breakfast was included so we smashed it every day)

– sunbathing on our large, square, room for two, sun lounger over looking the sea/ocean enjoying our books and taking moments to sit in the shade under a palm or swim in the pool

– lunch if we had it was the house buba ghanush which had feta and dried petals generously sprinkled on top (we usually saved a couple of bananas from breakfast for an afternoon snack)

– afternoons were taken up with more sunbathing, a nap or read in our hammock or a little walk

– the closest beach was nice to walk and people watch along and I always love the chance to take my jellies off, walk in the foam and get the sand between my toes

– Mykonos town and particularly Little Venice were worth the cab journey and the London priced restaurants (food delicious but not cheap) other nights we stayed in the hotel or popped along to the closest taverna on the beach

 

All in all I would say it was one of the best, or at least most ‘us’ holidays we’ve ever had. Beautiful surroundings, delicious food, wonderful attention to detail and a super chilled, lazy atmosphere – we’ll be back soon Mykonos!

 

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a hotel life – story hotel

:: by Lizzie
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This April I took my first ever trip to Sweden and it seemed only fitting that I write a review for ahotellife.com I chose to try out The Story Hotel for size and checked into the inner-city refuge in the heart of Stockholm with my partner in crime Daniel who was there on Urban Outfitters business.

 

The Story Hotel was designed by Swedish arichtects Koncept and opened in 2009. The old building has been stripped back to reveal lots of exposed concrete and many of the old features have been reused in ingenious ways. Think big wooden doors as headboards for example. The’ve worked with local artists to paste the walls of bedrooms with murals and poems which is kinda cool. The Story Hotel wasn’t quite interior perfection but they’re definately doing something insteresting and it’s well worth a visit even if just for the good food and local retail therapy. Have a look at my ‘Must Dos’ and ‘Must Haves’ and the full review here.

 

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a hotel life – the reading rooms

:: by Lizzie
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My latest review for ahotellife.com is of The Reading Rooms, a stylish and peaceful B&B in Margate on the Kent coast. The inspiration for The Reading Rooms’ name came from Margate’s 18th century heyday when visitors to Margate were entertained in a variety of spas and reading rooms throughout the town.

 

Margate, is one of England’s first seaside resorts where 18th century tourists came to enjoy the newly fashionable health giving properties of seabathing. Famed for its beautiful, expansive beaches and historic architecture, as well being a pioneer of British seaside culture, Margate is enjoying the rennaissance of a major arts regeneration programme.

 

This includes the construction of the Turner Contemporary art gallery by RIBA Stirling prize-winning architect David Chipperfield, the development of a heritage theme park at the Dreamland site and the active encouragement of artists to live, work and exhibit in the town.

 

Margate is definitley on the up and Louise and Liam are very much part of the movement. They are wonderful hosts, have impeccable taste and are very good cooks which makes for a rather fabulous stay. Read the full review here.

 

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a hotel life – hotel the exchange

:: by Lizzie
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My second hotel review for ahotellife.com from my October Amsterdam trip is now up.

 

Hotel The Exchange was opened in 2011 with a little help from the fashion students of Amsterdams AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institution). Interior designers Otto Nan and Suzanne Oxenaar gave every selected student the brief ‘Rooms Dressed As Models’ and sent them off to design each bedroom of the hotel with its own unique style and personality.

 

Every opportunity has been taken to ‘dress’ the hotel’s shared spaces. With padded fabric lifts and cross stitched room numbers it’s a feast for your eyes.  Read my whole review here.

 

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a hotel life – lloyd hotel & cultural embassy

:: by Lizzie
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We’re on to review number three and I’m still loving writing for ahotellife.com

The latest is my review of Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy where I stayed in October on a sourcing trip for SMUG.

 

Originally a migrant hotel, then a few other things including a Nazi prison before becoming what it is today, the history of the Lloyd is fascinating. I do also like what they’ve done with the place design-wise but in my opinion it still feels a bit ‘prisony’. Read the full review here.

 

During the same Amsterdam trip I reviewed another hotel for A Hotel Life – The Exchange. Review coming soon. Amsterdam was fabulous and I’m in the process of writing a City Guide for The Smuggler so keep your eyes open for that too.

 

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a hotel life – mama shelter

:: by Lizzie
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“This week on A Hotel Life: Michelberger, Mama Shelter & more! Lizzie Evans takes us to a quirky Paris boutique chock full of Starck, steaks & Scooby Doo masks!”

 

Yep. My second A Hotel Life review has now been published by the lovely ahotellife.com crew. Mama Shelter, and it’s associated restaurant particurlarly, were delicious. A kookily wonderful way to end our Paris Design Week trip. Read the full review here. Paris City Guide coming soon.

 

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a hotel life – the wythe

:: by Lizzie
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“First time contributor and creative Londoner Lizzie Evans” (that’s me!) “crossed the pond for her recent honeymoon with a stay at Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel. Check out her review and some neighbourhood recommendations that even a local can love…”

 

That’s right, the wonderful people at A Hotel Life have posted my review on their brilliant website. Danny and I totally fell in love with The Wythe Hotel on honeymoon in May and would whole heartedly recommend it to one and all – but particularly those reading this, my blog, as you probably like the same things as me. Check out the full review here, including the “neighbourhood recommendations that even a local can love” (I’m particularly proud of that bit).

 

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