Architecture Country Houses Design Hotels Luxury Restaurants

The Garden House + The Big House Beaverbrook Surrey

Journeying Mercies

We’re off to Beaverbrook. Come hail (a lot) or shine (a little) an A Class Mercedes spinning through Surrey on the stormiest day of the year is just what the doctor ordered although possibly not the meteorologist. The gated sprawling estate – legendary hectares of rollingness – is divided into The Haves (see you at The Garden House) and The Haves Even More (we’ll be calling up to see you at The Big House). Ever versatile, we’ll do both. Especially since our guests have travelled 12 hours to make if for lunch.

So what’s the hotel really like? Well, take the terrace of Castle Leslie (County Monaghan), the parterre of Luton Hoo (Bedfordshire), the grotto of Curraghmore (County Waterford), the glasshouse of Walmer Castle (Kent), The Carriage Rooms of Montalto (County Down), the glamour of Corniche John Fitzgerald Kennedy (Marseille) and throw in a larger than life Kensington Palace Gardens villa (London) and you’ll get the picture.

The Garden House staff, led by the stylish restaurant manager from Battersea, are so gregarious that by the dill and beetroot amuse bouches we’re swapping film tips (Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is very watchable but what is Dame Judy’s mangled accent all about?). It’s easy to get into the tongue and groove of rural life. There are more pictures of prize cows on the Farrow and Ball’d walls than a mar’t auction catalogue. Outside the storm is brewing again but we’re in the old fashioned sitting room propped up by Christian Lundsteen cushions and Old Fashioned cocktails. All hatches are battened down… except for The Drinking Hole.

Can life get any better? Yes it can: lunch is being served in the dining room next door. Before long we’re devouring farmers’ helpings of crispy polenta squid with smoked garlic, basil and lime, followed by Dorset halloumi and heritage beetroot with radicchio, date and parsley. Everything, and we mean everything, is freshly wild and wildly fresh. Our well informed waiter tells us about the hotel’s Sir Winston Churchill connection and the Spitfire emblem and the eponymous Lord Beaverbrook but ever so distractingly the restaurant manager arrives with salted chocolate and blood orange petit fours masquerading as “posh Jaffa cakes”.

Forbes, the only other publication to join us a few years ago in Montenegro at the behest of the Government of the former Yugoslavian state, has beaten us to today’s destination. Its verdict? “Beaverbrook is arguably England’s most beautiful new hotel.” Last week’s Sunday Times is almost as glowing, “One of the UK’s top country house hotels.” Scrawled on a blackboard in the glasshouse is a flower recipe, “Wax flower, statis, limonium, gypsophila, spag. moss.” It’s a metaphor for Beaverbrook: classy, quirky and drawing on the best that nature has to offer.

Architecture Luxury People Restaurants

Verige65 Restaurant + Bar Boka Bay Montenegro

Grace is Grace


Stevan Milic, General Manager of the luxurious Portonovi resort in Herceg Novi, proclaims, “It’s a good life. The country is progressing. The economy is growing.” It’s impossible to disagree, lunching at Verige65, the restaurant with a view attached. Enjoying mozzarella and tomato, sushi tempura, shellfish platters, cheesecake and chocolate cake along with full bodied local Merlot from Savina Winery, we’re living our best lives, doing our bit to advance the country and support the economy.











Art People

King Nikola I Park + Azerbaijani Embassy Podgorica Montenegro

History and Harmony

King Nikola I Park Podgorica Montenegro © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Adrijana Husić, Marketing Manager of Portonovi (a luxury resort in Herceg Novi), is a Podgorica resident. She explains, “King Nikola I Park is off Freedom Street. The land was gifted by the Azerbaijani Embassy at the beginning of the 20th century. Nikola was the last royal ruler of Montenegro. His initials in Montenegrin are on the park railings.” Upon independence in 2006, Montenegrin was proclaimed the national language. There were 30 letters in the alphabet but very excitingly a couple of years later two more letters were added. “Albanian surnames end with ‘ch’,” confirms Adrijana, “while Montenegrin surnames end with ‘ić’.”

King Nikola I Park Statue Podgorica Montenegro © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

King Nikola I Park Bust Podgorica Montenegro © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley


Lavender’s Blue + Boka Bay Montenegro

The Universe’s Valhalla

Bay of Kotor Montenegro © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Tomorrow, Vienna.

Architecture Design Hotels Luxury

Lazure Hotel + Marina Herzeg Novi Montenegro

Azure Allure

It looks like a palace you would come across in Veneto, with lower wings stretching out from a central block. That’s not entirely coincidental. It may be located next to the medieval town of Herceg Novi in Montenegro, but the original block of Lazure Hotel is 18th century Venetian. We arrive at midnight looking fresh as first bloom mimosas after a two hour drive through the mountains from the capital Podgorica. It might be 12 o’clock but we’re greeted with a typically effusive Montenegrin welcome. And pizzas. And good Turkish filter coffee served with fresh honey.

The solidity of the building’s massing is hollowed out by courtyards; some open to the elements, others glazed over. Such extravagance of space. New apartments behind the original building have mountain views. A spa and fitness suite as well as yacht club and café will complete this alluring complex. Our first floor suite has views of the 221 berth marina, softly illuminated on this mild night. Montenegro is the new Monte Carlo.

Suite dreams are made of this: a sitting room with kitchen facilities (Smeg appliances naturally), bathroom, en suite and large – that extravagance of space reoccurring – double bedroom. So light, so airy, so spacious. So technologically advanced: a light around the bed comes on automatically when you place your feet on the floor. Lazure style is all about modern rustic. Think exposed stone walls and abstract paintings and lots and lots of white.

Next to a platter of petit fours on our coffee table a note reads, “On the behalf of the entire Lazure Hotel + Marina staff, we would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to our own ‘Place of Relocation’. Friendly smiles are contagious and courteous service is our standard. Enjoy your stay and share the experience!”

It wasn’t originally a palace but rather grand naval offices. The receptionist gives us a midnight tour. She explains all the original architecture had to be kept intact. Our tour highlight is the Chapel of St Rocco, Keeper of the Dead. It opens, surprisingly, right off the main lounge area. A fresco of St Rocco himself dominates the miniscule windowless room. And so to bed, only to waken up to views across the azure Kotor Bay to the snowy peaks of the Luštica Peninsula.

Hotels Luxury

Lavender’s Blue + Herceg Novi Montenegro

Heaven’s Children

Local genius | genius loci.

Hotels Luxury People

Lavender’s Blue + Bay of Kotor Montenegro

The Muchness of Otherness 

Where else? A far flung corner of the universe. We like to get around. Palm trees and snow caps. The tapestry of our simple and joyful lives. Pieces of us.