Britain’s Finest Tour de France hotels
by Dinah Hatch (May 2014)
Whether you are an enthusiast or not, the sight of seeing the world’s top cyclists whooshing past at incredible speeds in the Tour de France is pretty special. And this year, fabulously, you don’t even have to cross the channel to see it either as Stage 1, 2 and 3 are all being held in Blighty. Day one on July 5 sees competitors saddle up in Leeds and ride a 120 mile loop around to Harrogate. On day two, it’s York to Sheffield (127miles) before the final UK leg on day three from Cambridge to Buckingham Palace (99 miles). Britain’s Finest, of course, has plenty of great hotel suggestions for you to stay in close to the action along the route. Here are our top ten…
Showing below are all 7 records in "Britain’s Finest Tour de France hotels"
1 Swinegate, Leeds
Look, you might as well kick this thing off in style. Book in at the Mal, sited in the city’s historic former Tramways office, and you will be a hop, skip and a cycling helmet’s throw from the start of the 2014 Tour de France on the Headrow, just past the 19th century town hall in the heart of the city. And when you’ve cheered off the competitors, you’ve the city at your disposal and one of the coolest hotels in the region to play in. The lovely Brasserie (think elegant ceilings, swanky leather booths and cosy open fires) serves northern grub with an elegant twist (don’t miss the Yorkshire puddings and locally-produced beef) while luxuriously-decorated rooms and suites feature super-size beds, super-fast broadband and super power showers.
Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire Dales, Skipton
If you’d rather see the race after the initial hullaballoo of the start in Leeds, leafy Skipton in north Yorkshire may well be the perfect spot to stay in, thanks to the rather lovely Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel. Sitting on the 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey estate which sprawls across stunning acre after stunning acre in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the hotel is an oasis of very smart, very stylish country living with a generous dollop of pamper factor thrown in. So, go, claim your spot in this bustling market town with its gorgeous medieval castle, see the action and then retreat to the hotel, perhaps for a treatment or two in the Spa at the Dev, housed in an ancient barn, or for a spot of afternoon tea (renowned here for their freshly baked scones and clotted cream and their amazing cakes and pastries).
As the riders sweep into the cathedral city of Ripon, spare a thought for their aching bodies and many, many miles yet to go in this race as you smugly remember you have booked yourself a long and comfortable night’s sleep at the Swinton Park Hotel. This ivy-clad little humdinger of a castle hotel, garlanded in awards thanks to its super service, cooking and facilities, is one of the finest places to lay your head in the county. The ancestral home of the Earl of Swinton, a treasure trove of antiques, family portraits and country house glamour, has grounds that are simply spectacular so if the weather’s fair, do take a leisurely stroll in them. Oh, and grab yourself a ground floor room if you want to have lake and deer park views.
Station Rise, York
Stage Two of the tour starts off from York Racecourse and glides past historic Clifford’s Tower and York Minster so why on earth wouldn’t you book into Cedar Court Grand Hotel and Spa which actually looks out onto the Minster. Not that I would encourage this in any way, but if you were feeling lazy YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR ROOM AT ALL! Well, you might just get seduced by this wonderful old railway hotel, its Edwardian architecture carefully preserved yet with bang up to date spa (indoor pool? Tick), open air roof garden and great dining options. This place is completely indulgent yet pleasingly unpretentious – we think you deserve it.
Whitehouse Lane, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge
And onto Stage Three, where the crowds will gather in the historic city of Cambridge at Gonville Place by Parker’s Piece, a green famously associated with the birthplace of Association Football. But all eyes will be on a different sport on July 7 as the cyclists begin their long descent to London and Buckingham palace where the race ends. So where to stay here? We strongly recommend the charming Hotel Felix on Whitehouse Lane. We love this grand Victorian villa’s many original features, the fact that it is dotted with interesting artwork and its utterly beguiling exterior, smothered as it is in lilac wisteria. Do book up for Graffiti Restaurant, which overlooks the terrace and pretty gardens and is a treat in summer.
Stratford Road, Dedham, Colchester
Just a scenic 30 minute drive to Braintree where the tour will pass on July 7, we suggest you book in at Milsoms in the heart of Constable country in Dedham. Set by the River Stour, the village (where the great painter went to school) centres around a quaint high street filled with Georgian-fronted houses, old pubs and a lovely art and crafts centre and makes for perfect pottering once you have seen the riders pass through this lovely section of Essex. Milsoms sits on the Stratford Road just off the A12 amidst two acres of lush English country garden but despite its ultra luxurious feel, it’s very informal. There are just 15 en-suite bedrooms, a little gastro bar and brasserie serving food all day plus a library at the front of the house overlooking the garden. Top notch, peaceful and very relaxed.
2 Sylvester Path, (Adjacent to the Hackney Empire), Hackney
Right across the road from the famous Hackney Empire in London’s East End, book a room at the Old Ship and you will be within easy reach of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which the riders will sweep into in the final hour of Stage 3. This cracking traditional British inn combines London’s rich history with the 21st century punter’s need for great food and drink and comfortable lodgings. It serves excellent craft beers, classic British Sunday roasts and features a whole feast of seasonally sourced goodies on the menu. Check out the v cool deluxe double’s décor where free wifi, flat screen TV and comped tea and shortbreads are standard.
To view the icons please zoom in