How do you choose a hotel when you travel?
I trust accommodation recommended by Trailfinders and I also do my own research, looking at reviews on TripAdvisor and preferred travel and lifestyle bloggers whom I follow online whose tastes I believe to be akin to mine. Ana Silva O’Reilly of Mrs. O Around the World and Sasha Wilkens of Liberty London Girl are the best in the business for all sorts of hotel, travel, and packing advice.
If you had to choose 3, which were the most special hotels you have ever stayed at? What made them so special?
Isle of Eriska Hotel in Argyle Scotland with exceptional food, hospitality and location. It’s family owned and run by the second generation family members, who have incredible attention to detail.
Gliffaes in Wales has warm hospitality, superb walking, excellent fishing and is an extremely good value for the money for a family reunion or stay. It’s family owned and run by third generation.
Cathedral Peak Hotel, Drakensberg, South Africa, for its dramatic location and family-friendly approach.
If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?
A relaxed atmosphere and friendly welcome on arrival sets the tone. At some stage in the stay, I would take the opportunity to talk to everyone who stays at the hotel. At Eriska and Gliffaes, this is done in a very unobtrusive and professional but warm way. I believe it guarantees return customers and generates a dialogue for open feedback.
A number of open fires (if in Northern Europe), not just one that everyone is trying to huddle around, two or three different rooms. People like to feel cosy in a hotel in winter.
Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…
I am pleased by a foyers full of wellies to use, open fires, big deep baths, and spectacular views for gin o’clock. I also like a waitress who knows her wine!
Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.
Mosaic in corridors and lifts (Las Vegas, The Venetian – DREADFUL!). Fire alarms that won’t turn off in the middle of the night (Manchester Airport Hotel – before a busy day of meetings). Poor wifi provision or wifi that has to be paid for as an extra when on business is desperately frustrating and can get me quite hysterical!
How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?
Amberlair is a brilliant concept and one that I will be getting involved in. I do think it faces a number of challenges (that’s what makes it exciting!), but with good planning, communication and subsequent execution, it will be unique in generating an immediate and loyal fan base who have an interest in the venture succeeding at all stages. Once the first hotel is up and running, the original backers will become highly involved customers (the best mouth piece for any business) who will spread the word via their own networks.
Where are you off to next?
I am going to Southern Spain on a road trip with my family. Stow’s manufacturing partner is based in Ubrique, the home of luxury leather goods, and so I am tying in a visit to the factory which will be in full production mode for our Christmas stock. Apart from the stunning town of Ubrique we are going to explore Rhonda, Granada and the surrounding national parks.
On 19th September my husband is competing in the World Triathlon Championships in Chicago for GB (in an older age group!) and I am going to cheer him on. I’m really looking forward to Chicago for the first time.
Carol Lovell, Founder and Creative Director of Stow launched the luxury travel brand via the crowd funding site Kickstarter in June 2013. She had globetrotted frequently for work (she has a background in executive travel recruitment and jewellery retail) and had struggled to find stylish yet practical luxury travel accessories to take with her or to send as gifts for friends on special occasions.
Stow’s designs come in contemporary colours and their shapes and quality echo a heritage look and feel, which are made to stow valuables and tech gadgets for today’s modern traveller – creating practical modern wander-luxe and attracting fans worldwide. The full collection is available in Harrods.