Moor Hall Hotel, BW Premier Collection
It’s now a sprawling modern country manor and hotel outside Sutton Coldfield, but in days gone by the Moor Hall Hotel, BW Premier Collection had a rather more solemn past as a bishop’s palace. Or, at least, that’s what you would imagine, but in actual fact the good food, find drink, events and parties you find inside these days are a return to form for a building designed to catch the attention of a king.
The modern structure dates from 1905, but archaeological evidence including a bear and cock fighting pit dates back to the older structure from the 16th century, built by Bishop John Vesey to entertain King Henry VIII and gain his favour. The king is known to have visited and stayed at the old Moor Hall many times, where the Bishop showered him with lavish feasts and entertainments, which seem to have done the job: Sutton Coldfield received a large amount of royal cash over the years, reviving its fortunes and even becoming a Royal Borough.
Kingsmills Hotel, WorldHotels Elite
He was never officially crowned, and remains a divisive figure to this day. To some, a romantic folk hero who led a righteous but doomed cause to restore the legitimate Royal family to the British throne. To others, a deluded tyrant in waiting whose vanity led thousands to their deaths while he turned tail and ran. Regardless of your opinion, the legend of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army still evokes strong memories, particularly in the north of Scotland where his rebellion made its final stand among the windswept hills and glens of the Highlands.
Financed by French gold and drawing support from across Europe, the heartland of the Jacobite Rising of 1745 was nevertheless around Inverness, Aberdeen and the Western Highlands where Charles Stuart’s supporters were able to draw on the forces of local clan leaders who still lived by the old feudal traditions of lordship and military service. Even today in modern Inverness it’s easy to imagine the sound of the pipes and the clatter of the drums as if a rebel or redcoat marched by, and nowhere is this more true than at Kingsmills Hotel, WorldHotels Elite, which sits on the edge of town a scarce few miles from the infamous Culloden Battlefield.
One of the oldest buildings in Inverness, the Kingsmills Hotel, WorldHotels Elite is even older than the Rising but wears it well. It’s got a thoroughly modernised interior and some of the most luxurious public and private rooms in the BWH Hotel Group family, but the occasional original feature or date stamp to remind you that you’re in a piece of living history. In fact, the hotel is so close to the battlefield that injured Jacobite soldiers are known to have sheltered there after their disastrous final defeat at Culloden when it was a private house, making it a truly irreplaceable site for history buffs.
Firmly established on biscuit tins and whisky bottles, and thanks to a recent retelling on TV series Outlander, the Bonnie Princes’ fame is cresting a wave, and whether to you he’s the young pretender or the king over the water, there’s no better place to follow in his footsteps.
Best Western New Holmwood
The Best Western New Holmwood hotel is the only property part of the Best Western family on the Isle of Wight, but it’s probably got one of the best views of them all, with a vista to die for out over the rolling waves of the Solent. With the south coast shimmering in the distant haze and flotillas of ships bobbing lazily by, from racing yachts to passenger ferries and warships, life has its own rhythm at Egypt Point, and it’s not just the tourists who have noticed.
Most famously associated with Osbourne House at East Cowes on the other side of the River Medina, Queen Victoria fell in love with the Isle of Wight during visits there after the death of her husband Prince Albert. The Queen visited the island for many years during her mourning period, and virtually lived there in her later years, but is most associated with the north coast and Egypt Point in particular. The northernmost part of the island, Egypt Point is where the elderly Queen most liked watching the sun set over the water, and it’s where her son and future King Edward VII returned year after year to watch the annual Cowes Regatta.
The Best Western New Holmwood hotel is mere yards away from that amazing viewpoint, and it’s why the King and his cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany chose the hotel’s front lawn as the best vantage point for watching the yachts race by. The Regatta still runs, it’s one of the oldest in the world, and the grand old hotel still looks out over the same stretch of water as the Queen and her son did more than 100 years ago. So there’s no easier way to follow in the footsteps of Royalty than to sit on the same patch of grass as a former Monarch did with a cool glass of something, keeping track of the yachts, and probably no more pleasant one either.