Known for its flowery comforters and preppy clothing, the Laura Ashley brand moved into the hospitality business this month with the opening of The Manor Hotel, in Elstree, Hertfordshire, England.
Last year, Laura Ashley snapped up a Tudor house dating back to 1540 (formerly the Edgwarebury Hotel; from the 1930s-1960s it served as a private country club) and promptly began refurbishing it. The hotel is just a 20-minute train ride to London (10 minutes by car), convenient when a thirst for city life beckons. Set on 10 wooded acres, with plentiful gardens, the manor has 49 rooms (including four suites) in the Tudor house as well as a contemporary wing. Naturally, each room is styled with Laura Ashley products and themes that exude luxury in tones of calming blues, grays, tans, dusty pinks, plums, and creams. Free WiFi is available throughout.
Its entrance holds quite a story: the front door was originally part of Lewes Castle’s dungeons in southeastern England. Wood used to construct the manor is thought to have come off ships battling during the Spanish Armada. In the bar, the Gothic panels are crafted from old ship lockers.
Fine-dining service—with dishes inspired by both England and Malaysia, using locally sourced ingredients—in Cavendish Restaurant is paired with views of central London. A lengthy wine list features bottles from New World and Old World wineries alike. Afternoon tea is available in the Terrace Bar, along with whiskies and liqueurs. Right now, an afternoon-tea offer through September 28 means one free afternoon tea per stay is included in the room rates.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo credits: photos courtesy of The Manor at Elstree