Architects Architecture People

The Roxburghe Hotel + Charlotte Square Edinburgh

Ministerial Positions

Charlotte Square Edinburgh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Turns out Scotland’s First Minister isn’t just better at debates than the UK’s Prime Minister. She’s got a more palatial pad. They might both be terraced houses but Number 10 doesn’t hold a Georgian candle to Number 6. Downing Street in London is a mean little hotchpotch of a side street. Charlotte Square in Edinburgh is an expansive leafy neoclassical masterpiece of town planning. Bute House, Nicola Sturgeon’s official address, is a lot finer than the Old Etonian’s accommodation. Albeit a little chillier for barbeques.

Charlotte Square Edinburgh Steps © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

New Town Edinburgh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Charlotte Square Edinburgh Railings © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Charlotte Square is the apex, the apogee, the climax, the pinnacle, the zenith of the horizontality – those palace frontages! – of Edinburgh’s New Town. Its 18th century town planner was 22 year old James Craig. No less an architect than Robert Adam designed the buildings lining the square. Details hint at the social hierarchy and habits of times past. Rough stone for the servants’ basement; smooth stone for the masters’ piano nobile. Trumpet shaped openings in the cast iron railings would have been used to snuff out the flamed torches carried by ‘link boys’ to illuminate residents’ way home at night. Glimpses can be captured at street level of the Firth of Forth – nature is never far away in Scotland. Even the built form often resembles rocky outcrops.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's Gardens Charlotte Square © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

For those who don’t rule the northern part of this island, Number 38 Charlotte Square is the alternative place to stay. The Roxburghe is an updated architectural microcosm of Edinburgh itself. Reflecting the conjoined Old and New Town twins, this hotel is formed by a New Town and Very New Town embrace of Georgian and contemporary. Taking up residence permanently as Nicola’s neighbour would cost a wee bit under £600k for a four bedroom penthouse on Charlotte Square. Calling by Dave’s for a pint of milk, a lot more.

Roxburgh Hotel Edinburgh Reception © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Chewton Glen + Christchurch Bay Hampshire

A Health of Experience

1 Chewton Glen ©

Its memorable garden front has graced the glossies for almost five decades now. The signature doorcase – topped by a semicircular shell encased in a triangular pediment balanced on scroll brackets – has become a motif for luxury. Owned by the Livingstone brothers who recently snapped up Cliveden, it retains a welcoming family feel on arrival. And on departure, expect to be laden with shortbread and Hildon sparkling. Days earlier, Dave and Sam Cameron had enjoyed the five red star hospitality of this hotel which glimmers on the edge of the New Forest, where staff outnumber guests three to one. Welcome to Chewton Glen.

2 Chewton Glen ©

Henri Cartier-Bresson called the camera a “sketchbook”. Summer sun, nature’s ultimate photographic colour enhancer, wasn’t around but nonetheless Chewton Glen appeared in a mellow glow. After glamorous host manager Juliet Pull whisked us on a tour of bedrooms and suites, some chintzy, some contemporary, all with secluded balconies or terraces, then up to the treehouse lodges, a little closer to heaven, it was off to the spa. For lunch. The Molton Brown designed treatment rooms – padded cocoons in trademark brown tones – were tempting as was the neoclassical 17 metre pool. But the only thing better than swimming is eating lunch watching other people swimming. Preferably synchronised.

Chewton Glen Treehouse ©

The menu promotes less alcohol, more alkaline, intake. A spa buffet as organic as the hotel architecture. Vegetarian foods plus salmon and prawns; wholegrain instead of processed food. Basically less acidic food such as meat and dairy. Your pH balance will be maintained, boosting health and upping energy levels. Lentil, tahini and seaweed; jicama, endive and ewes curd; carrot and sweet pepper slaw. Nothing tastes as good as healthy, Chewton style. Washed down with Night Vision, a blend of carrot, orange and lime. No wonder people choose to get married in the hotel’s kitchen garden. Old habits die hard – a coffee to finish – but this being The Glen, it’s served with buffalo’s rather than cow’s milk.

3 Chewton Glen Spa ©

Don’t let the health buzz end there. Follow Chewton Bunny, a stream gambolling through the 60 hectare estate, briskly past the croquet lawn haha, aha, leisurely through a pond strewn meadow, dashingly across a hairpin bend road, longingly past a house called Squirrel’s Leap, gingerly down a tree lined ravine, and finally stretched out before you will be Christchurch Bay, Highcliffe to the right, Barton on Sea to the left. Beyond lies the Isle of White. The world’s your oyster.

4 Chewton Glen Spa ©