Do you dream of a long weekend away, complete with posh nosh, plump pillows and a perfect shimmering martini? If that fantasy includes a hop across the pond, then The Smiths' Hotel Collection: UK and Ireland, edited by Juliet Kinsman and Sophie Dening, is at your service with its offbeat, oh-so-hip and witty reviews of the best hotels in the United Kingdom and Ireland (another edition covers Europe).
Just who are the Smiths? Not a mysterious duo, but an undercover horde of in the know professionals who professionally vet each hotel recommended in this guide. From the likes of British fashion designer Stella McCartney and chef Raymond Blanc come kudos on 41 hotels the eclectic boutique, the luxury retreat and the atmospheric inn. Some are big-city venues, but most sit in the verdant countryside and remote coastal areas, like Bigbury-on-Sea.
With sumptuously arty color photography, Zen-like graphics and tongue-in-cheek text, the hotels here are handily indexed by rates, number of rooms, location, atmosphere and amenities. Each review is a luscious secret story, spiked with a dash of hedonism. The Star Inn, Harome, is billed as out of Africa meets gastro-pub with candlelit nooks, padded pews and a faint whiff of wood-smoke and beeswax. This upscale guide, worthy of a manor house coffee table, emphasizes luxe amenities, freebies (via Smith Club membership, which comes with the book), places to drink and dine royally, and local area activities. Even if a trip to the UK isn't possible, The Smiths' Hotel Collection is worth a look, if only to discover what happens behind closed hotel doors.