Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura enjoys the hospitality of the Laura Ashley Hotel – The Iliffe in Coventry.
While places like Devon and Cornwall and the Lake District have been popular staycations for decades, there are others that are overlooked because they don’t sound ‘sexy’ enough. Similarly, like we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we must also not judge a place by its location.
Coventry is one of those places. The Laura Ashley Hotel – The Iliffe is a mock Tudor manor house, which is a marvel and is situated just three miles from the city centre. It’s been carefully restored and still retains many of its traditional features.
Formerly known as Corus The Chace Hotel, the boutique establishment as we know today began life in July 2019, revealing its Laura Ashley transformation. It had a thorough refurbishment to bring it in line with Laura Ashley brand standards. The elegant interiors showcase their inherently British range of fabrics and furnishings throughout.
The red-carpeted sweeping staircase is something else, and you can imagine it as the grand country house it once was. If you like history, you would be interested to learn that the land which the property is located on boasts a colourful one dating back to 1257 and was once owned by King Henry VIII.
The Laura Ashley Hotel – The Iliffe is named after the family the property was constructed for in the late 1890s – Dr Charles Webb Iliffe, a well-respected figure in the local medical community, and his wife, a young debutante, Mary Ann Soden.
Guests can expect to be fully enveloped by the Victorian architecture from the moment they walk through the grand entrance into the lobby. And for those heading here for a romantic break, a gentleman would not feel out of place.
The classic leather Hudson button back sofas, big, bold armchairs framing tables, decorative fireplaces against the backdrop of elegant wood panelling and mullioned windows are very masculine. Meanwhile, a bespoke bookshelf separating the bar from the lounge space, with a secret pocket door which opens to connect both spaces, adds a feminine touch.
I must say, I felt rather regal floating up the swish red-carpeted sweeping staircase, which leads to the boutique hotel’s 17 superior and deluxe Laura Ashley bedrooms. The only thing I felt that was missing was a corset and floor-length skirt. I may not have had the attire, but I sure was given the room fit for an aristocrat.
I was treated to their Signature Room (the bridal suite) compete with a four-poster bed – which I’ve always had a penchant for – and the lilac and cream colour combination was oh-so-pretty.
Classic Laura Ashley design adorned every surface of this incredibly large room, from plush cushions on the bed to Laura Ashley Glenmore chairs, floor-to-ceiling drapes to statement lighting and stylish windows. No one can accuse the designer of not paying attention to detail like the floral radio next to the pillow, individually packaged wet wipes (Covid-friendly), a massive bowl of fruit in case you get peckish and some carefully selected biscuits to dunk in your tea or coffee.
Hungry for supper, my guest Nita and I floated back downstairs to the dining room. The Victorian heritage theme continues into the incredibly large dining room with its high ceilings, chandelier, ornate fireplace and a wall-to-wall mural to reflect the surrounding grounds, adding that country manor touch to the space.
A small but good-sized menu is on offer at the Willows Restaurant, both for guests and non-residents alike. Meat, fish and vegetarian dishes are available, and our waitress was more than happy to ask the chef to adapt any dishes. Settling for the soup of the day (tomato with herb croutons), my main was a heartier fill of Spiced Battered Seabass Sweet potatoes, Parmentier, pickled cucumber and radish salad.
Although that would have been more than enough to fill me up, I couldn’t help ordering the triple cooked chips. Well, sometimes you’ve just got to have carbs! And delicious, they were too. It’s not as if I had far to go up to my room and lay on the welcoming four-poster bed to let it all digest.
A good night’s sleep had, Nita and I arose early to potter around in our room before breakfast just to make the most of it. This room really is so glorious and is like a bedroom and living room all in one – lockdown would not feel so tough here. We were enjoying it a tad too much as we only just managed to sneak into the same dining hall before they closed.
The daylight hours provided us with a scenic view of the hotel’s landscaped gardens. As I sat there sipping my morning coffee, I recalled the English idiom “Sent to Coventry’. It means “deliberately ostracising someone by not talking to them”. Well, I don’t mind being sent to Coventry a single bit when it’s a place like this!
The Laura Ashley Hotel – The Iliffe – Where and How?
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