The Best Boutique Hotels in the UK

The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone is just one of the UK's best boutique hotels
The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone is just one of the UK's best boutique hotels | Courtesy of The Zetter Townhouse / Expedia
Photo of Callum Davies
29 December 2020

It might seem like hotel options in the UK are quite binary – either a grand opulent Jacobean manor, or a towering glass-fronted monolith. In actual fact, there’s a comfortable middle ground between the classical and the corporate. All across the country there are boutique hotels which provide a gateway to an authentic experience via a blend of modern amenities and history-seeped surrounding – here’s the best.

The Resident – Liverpool

Suite Hotel
Map View
The Resident
Courtesy of The Resident / Expedia
The Resident is located in Liverpool’s design district, RopeWalk, positioned a short away from Albert Dock or the high street and providing guests with easy access to independent restaurants, bars and cafés. The hotel has a very modern aesthetic without feeling cold or uninviting, and the rooms have blackout curtains, kitchenettes and big flat screen TVs – so, if you feel like nesting you’re well equipped to do so. For those feeling a little more adventurous though, the hotel offers discounts at nearby restaurants and will happily facilitate the ordering of takeout directly to your room.
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Blakes Hotel – London

Boutique Hotel
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Blakes Hotel London
Courtesy of Blakes Hotel London / Expedia
The brainchild of 1970’s actress, Anouska Hempel, Blakes is impossible to miss; a striking black fronted structure in the midst of the white walls of Kensington. The windows are adorned with golden geometric patterning and inside, the detailing speaks volumes about Hempel’s stylistic acumen. The suites vary wildly in shape and size, from classical four poster beds to trompe l’oeil walls. There’s also an expansive cocktail lounge and a noir, sly dining area, as well as a large garden which feels like its own tiny gated community.
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The Zetter Townhouse – London

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
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The Zetter Townhouse
Courtesy of The Zetter Townhouse / Expedia
With deep red walls and dark wood furniture, The Zetter Townhouse has all the charming trappings of the Overlook Hotel with none of the, well, ghosts and murder. It’s a lot better located too, just a short stroll away from Marylebone Station. As with other Zetter hotels, there’s an oddly charming fictional narrative to accompany your stay and in this instance, parts of the hotel are claimed to have been the residence of ‘Wicked Uncle Seymour’. This is particularly evident in the bar, which offers an innovative range of cocktails. The rooms are charmingly outfitted with knitted covers and artisan furniture, and each of the 26 has its own character, so repeat customers can expect a new kind of charm each time.
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The Dakota – Manchester

Hotel
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Dakota Manchester
Courtesy of Dakota Manchester / Expedia
The Dakota can be found in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and from the outside, looks like it was just lifted out of a 1950s sci-fi film. Inside however, things feel just as Golden Age but more contemporary – look out for the model of a classic F1 car on the table in the reception area – and each of the 137 rooms feature velvet chairs and purple bedspreads. All the rooms also have sky TV and many of them have spacious roll-top baths. The restaurant is a chophouse and if you’re feeling especially classy, there’s even a cigar terrace you could visit.
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Snooze – Brighton

Boutique Hotel
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Snooze
Courtesy of Snooze / Expedia
One of the more surprising entries on this list, Snooze is cost-effective, well positioned – right next to the beach and a short stroll from Brighton Pavillion and The Lanes – and exudes cool. The lounge area is filled with ‘70s and ‘80s paraphernalia and reclaimed fairground MacGuffins, and there are also some delightfully kitschy murals coating the walls not only in the common spaces but the rooms as well. Phone charging docks and DAB radios are to be expected in all rooms alongside an array of sustainable bath products.
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The Cow Hollow – Manchester

Hotel
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Cow Hollow Hotel
Courtesy of Cow Hollow Hotel / Expedia
The Cow Hollow is another Northern Quarter disruptor, and you can tell instantly that it’s trying to make its mark in a cutting-edge way. All rooms feature Netflix, bronze showers and REN bathroom products, and you request room service using a WhatsApp number – an amenity particularly appealing to those more introverted. The building itself was a textile warehouse in a previous life and care has been taken to preserve the more appealing components of its old skeleton. The Plantation bar has an extensive cocktail menu and sadly no food, but regardless, the hotel offers discounts at many of the surrounding restaurants and can even happily arrange food delivery up to your room.
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No. 38 Clifton – Bristol

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
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Number Thirty Eight
Courtesy of Number Thirty Eight / Expedia
When a hotel has a David Hockney painting in its downstairs toilet, you know you’re in for an interesting stay. The No. 38 is an old Georgian structure situated perfectly for views of Bristol’s Avon Gorge. There are only a handful of rooms and no food besides breakfast, but this cosy hotel has so much to offer that this doesn’t matter. Velvet upholstery, copper bathtubs and wood panelling characterise the rooms, alongside various little nods to Bristol’s maritime roots. A sun terrace provides an excellent vantage point to take in the view on clear days, and the cafés and vintage shops of Clifton Village are only a short walk away.
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  • Glazebrook House – Dartmoor

    Luxury, Boutique Hotel, Hotel
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    Glazebrook House, Devon
    Courtesy of Glazebrook House / Expedia
    The first countryside stay to feature on this list, Glazebrook backs onto the invitingly wild hills of Dartmoor, characterised by rocky cairns and herds of wild horses. The owners are big vintage collectors, and there are almost 1,000 items strewn across the property, making the house almost as serviceable as a museum as it is as a hotel. It certainly puts its dues in as the latter though, and each room features its own personal collection of curios, tartan carpets and glossy bathrooms with marble sinks. The cocktail bar is a leather-walled lesson in decadence, to say nothing of the seven course tasting menu.
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    The Queensberry Hotel – Bath

    Hotel
    Map View
    Courtesy of Queensberry Hotel / Expedia
    In stark contrast to the other Bath hotel on this list, The Queensbury is upmarket in every sense of the word. It houses The Olive Tree, Bath’s only Michelin Star restaurant, and is built from four interlocking Georgian townhouses making for a total of 29 opulent rooms – many of which have marble fireplaces and even big clawfoot baths. There’s a very cocktail-friendly terrace outside and a drawing room to unwind in if the weather is a bit less accommodating. On top of all this, the Royal Crescent is only about 5 minutes away.
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    voco Grand Central – Glasgow

    Hotel
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    Grand Central Hotel
    Courtesy of Grand Central Hotel / Expedia
    The first thing to note about voco’s Glasgow edition is that it’s very conveniently located if you’re arriving by train. All one has to do is step out of Central Station, turn left, and there it is, less than 50 yards from the platforms. The building is steeped in history, having played host to the likes of Frank Sinatra and JFK through the years. This is also evident in the grand, palatial look of the interior, which extends to the rooms with their high ceilings, carved wooden doors and statement wallpaper. There’s a champagne bar which also serves tapas style meals, and views down onto the bustling streets of central Glasgow.
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    Dakota Deluxe – Leeds

    Boutique Hotel, Luxury
    Map View
    Dakota Leeds
    Courtesy of Dakota Leeds / Expedia
    Leeds has a reputation as one of the most up-and-coming cities in the UK, with a nightlife that nearly rivals that of nearby Manchester and Liverpool. Dakota Deluxe resides between the Northern Quarter and the river, so guests can easily pick between scenic walks and lively bars. The building was a car park in a previous life, and the space has been used intelligently so that the rooms have high ceilings and big windows, but still offer plenty of comfort with their velvet sofas and relaxing soft lighting. The Grill restaurant has a bar style aesthetic, with an appealing brasserie style menu, and there’s also a cocktail bar on the first floor which plays host to live music on weekends.
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    These recommendations were updated on December 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.