Hotel Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade

When I visit a new city for a few days I look for a centrally located hotel that is comfortable and welcoming. I’ve stayed in many of the Sofitel hotels, each has a different feel and style depending on the city and area it is based in.

The Lisbon Sofitel has a business vibe, discreetly placed on the grand Avenue de Liberdade, amongst the designer boutiques and towering trees. It is economical with space but doesn’t feel squashed. Inside, the hotel is decorated in dark colours, which offers a calm atmosphere coming in after exploring the hot streets of Lisbon. There is a glamorous bar for an evening aperitif and a lounge area ideal for mapping out your sightseeing plans.

Our bedroom was on the 5th floor, a quiet section of the building which felt very removed from the busy street below. When I stepped out of the lift, I noticed the corridors were filled with a fresh floral scent, inside the bedroom there was a cosy, plush feel. The twin beds were topped with marshmallow soft white duvets and luxuriously large pillows. I slept brilliantly well each night, waking up feeling rested and relaxed. A small desk was equipped with business essentials and in one corner we found tea & coffee facilities, which I was very grateful for. The bathroom was compact but smartly arranged with a powerful shower/bath complex and a set of expensive Hermes toiletries from Paris.

Breakfast is served on the lower ground floor, which sadly lacks windows and natural light, but I soon forgot about this when I saw the decadent spread of exotic fruits, cereals, pastries and Portuguese treats. We indulged each morning with the sweetest fresh orange juice, milky coffee and an array of tasty delicacies from the buffet.

When you want to leave the comfort of the Sofitel Lisbon, the knowledgeable concierge will guide you to the city’s most charming spots or book you in for a delicious meal at a local bistro, so you have the best time in and outside the hotel.

More information and book a stay here.

Urban Villa, Brentford

I imagine the prospect of trekking all the way to Brentford after work on a Friday night would deter a lot of people from attending the Urban Villa hotel’s opening party but those that did make the effort had a brilliant time. We scoffed juicy burgers from the Meat Liquor food truck, slurped cocktails from connoisseur Thomas Aske and Soulshakers, indulged in manicures and massages and watched in amazement as cabaret acts stormed the stage, all curated by burlesque performer Miss Giddy Heights. Later in the evening DJ’s Ivan Varian and The Roustabouts continued the energetic atmosphere downstairs. After all the entertainment there was just enough time to see the rooms and facilities that this new business boutique hotel has on offer.

Urban Villa is a new, all-suite accommodation concept which offers the convenience of residential assets within a boutique hotel complex. The industrial chic appearance will attract ambitious professionals who need a comfortable and luxurious place to stay in London with great connections for city commutes. The Brentford area is booming, and at an alarming pace. Close to Chiswick, Richmond and most notably Heathrow, it is ideal for business visitors.

Despite the apparent vastness of the glass structure from the ground, inside there are just 100 suites, studios and the larger master suites. The founders were lucky to get New York architects Grzywinski + Pons on board for the project, the dynamic pair behind The Nolitan, a downtown Manhattan hotel I reviewed a few years ago. Downstairs the open plan communal lobby, has a clean, fresh feel. BOKI Coffee & Co serve delectable treats all day, and we enjoyed their flaky croissants and tailor-made juices here for breakfast. They also offer trendy tea of the moment T2 and perfectly poured Allpress Coffee.

Our studio suite was on the third floor, with plenty of space for working and playing, and a small urban garden balcony overlooking the M4. The room featured a Queen sized bed with medium soft mattress (though this is changeable to your preference), a Samsung smart TV, Ipod docking station, a small table for dining or working, and fast free wifi. We had a glistening fully-equipped kitchen as all rooms do, and I appreciated the Nespresso machine for my early morning caffeine kick. The minimalist design is contemporary and functional with a focus on good quality and optimum comfort.

The black bathroom was glossy and luxurious with a powerful rainfall shower, plenty of fluffy towels and deliciously scented Malin & Goetz products. I missed having a bathtub but those who require it can find this addition in the master suites. Those guests in need of a little relaxation can have a blissful spa treatment in the room. We experienced wonderful 30 minute massages, the therapist used soothing almond oil to calm and relieve the muscle tension, I didn’t want it to end.

Urban Villa is ahead of the trend, bringing a fresh hotel concept to an area of London which is undergoing a great transformation. Offering style-conscious accommodation with facilities that show they consider business needs as a priority, it is a brilliant option for corporate visitors who want to stay somewhere with a bit of personality. With plans to open several more urban villa branches in the coming years, I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more from this ambitious team.

Prices start at £100 for a Studio Suite and £135 for a Master Villa. More information and booking here.

The Edition, Istanbul

The London Edition is the hottest hotel in town. Artistic and elegant, it is frequented by A-listers from Kate Moss to Damien Hirst. The Istanbul Edition is quite different in style and purpose; located in the business district of Levent, this high class and high rise building is out on a limb. Although the trendy, wealthy area of Bebek is nearby, there are no hip hang-outs on the doorstep or cool boutiques round the corner. But guests need not fear, a metro station is conveniently just outside the main hotel entrance, delivering you to the centre of town within minutes.

Inside there are very few indications of Istanbul, the sleek modern interiors are welcoming but slightly non-specific. While checking-in, I was distracted away from the reception desk by the tank of exotic fish and sea creatures, design quirks like this gave a showy futuristic feel.

Even the smallest rooms are spacious at the Istanbul Edition. Our Deluxe Room was spread over 50 square metres and had every contemporary gadget you could imagine. From the giant central bed, we could operate every blind, curtain, shutter and light, controlling the exact ambience of the room. An internal curtain drew back to reveal the luxury bathroom in all its glory. The design is the epitome of minimalistic chic. The palette doesn’t deviate from pale grey and warm caramel shades. No one could fault the facilities and the design is sure to appeal to most. I slept like a baby in the regal bed, and adored the large rectangular marble bath, complete with own brand toiletries.

We felt like we were the first guests to experience the space, which is testament to the quality, upkeep and cleanliness.

The ESPA is a ‘destination spa’. Located deep underground it feels totally removed from the rest of the hotel. There are numerous treatment rooms, male and female hammams, rock sauna, steam room and snow cabin, oh, and a plunge pool with a sculptural, shimmering onyx ceiling.

Italian-based Cipriani Restaurant is found on the ground floor, all meals are served here including breakfast. With notably more colour and character, this area of the hotel gives off a different relaxed vibe. Breakfast was a tad dull, the lack of hot, freshly cooked, a la carte items was disappointing.

Although located in the financial district, the Edition Istanbul is much more than a business hotel. The spa is reason alone to visit.

More information and book here.