This is a review of a gifted hotel stay.
After experiencing Laura Ashley The Tea Room at the Regency Hotel in Solihull earlier this year, I was intrigued to learn that (the formerly known as) The Chace Hotel in Coventry was being rebranded as a Laura Ashley hotel. Even more excitingly, we visited the newly named Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe on opening night – and I’m very happy to report that it was an absolute treat.
The Iliffe in Coventry
Even though it’s just three miles from the city centre of Coventry, Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe has the feel of a countryside boutique hotel, whilst being conveniently situated for exploring all Coventry and Warwickshire has to offer. Having attended university at the very nearby University of Warwick, I know the area well and if you’re not local, trust me when I say with the likes of Leamington and Kenilworth on your doorstep (as well as Warwick Castle), you’ll be spoiled for choices of places to visit.
The impressive mock-tudor façade of the building is a nod to the colourful history of the land the hotel sits on, once owned by King Henry VIII. Now, the hotel is now named after the family the property was constructed for in the late 1890s, Dr Charles Webb Iliffe, a well-respected figure in the local medical community, and his wife, a young debutante, Mary Ann Soden.
A Beautifully Decorated Haven
Although I was originally hoping to arrive earlier and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before the evening’s opening night festivities (I fully imagined curling up in a little corner somewhere and reading my book with a cup of tea for a good hour or so!), I didn’t get myself organised enough for that, so instead, as usual, I turned up feeling a tad flustered, realising how many things I’d forgotten to pack (like my hairbrush!) and a bit strapped for time.
Thankfully, all those worries and anxieties seemed to just melt away as soon as I stepped in the front door. There’s something about Laura Ashley decor that does that. It’s calming. It’s beautiful. It’s timeless… and it just transports you into an immediate zen-like state of mind. The interior design is gorgeous, and it’s no wonder that Jim and I spent most of our time here discussing our own home decor. It was all very inspiring.
We stayed in Room 17 (cheeky little shout out to the 3D room numbers that the marketing team used in their photography to countdown to the hotel’s opening on Instagram!), and although a fairly small room, it was plenty big enough for the two of us.
From the floral wallpaper behind the fabric headboard, to the pretty DAB radio and the glass jar of boiled sweets, the room was beautiful. Just as I would have expected. We intend to redecorate our bedroom later this year, and if we end up with something even half as elegant and relaxing, I’ll consider it a job well done.
The room was well equipped and although we didn’t make use of all, we spotted readily available for guest use:
- White robes and slippers
- Ironing board and iron
- Secure safe
- Coffee machine
- Electric fan
- Wall mounted TV
- Laura Ashley print DAB radio
The first thing I look for in any hotel room are the tea making facilities, and at Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe, we were treated to proper cups and saucers and these little Laura Ashley branded chocolates as well as Borders biscuits and an offer of fresh milk if we preferred. Perfect.
The Willows Restaurant
Following a drinks reception in the lounge, it was time for the official cutting of the ceremonial ribbon by Coventry’s Lord Mayor Linda Bigham. The Lord Mayor spoke so articulately and with passion about how delighted she was to offer guests to Coventry the chance to stay in such a beautiful hotel. Her personal connection to the venue evident as it was where her son got married about five years ago. Cermonial duties completed, it was now the Willows Restaurant’s time to shine.
From the scallops and mango salsa starter, to the quintessentially British strawberries and cream inspired dessert, the menu for the evening delivered on all fronts. We were even treated to a harpist playing beautifully in the background for the whole evening – she just set the tone perfectly.
Food, wine and impressive musical talents aside, my favourite part of the evening was being able to chat to some of the Laura Ashley team. I loved hearing about their involvement in the rebrand, hearing anecdotes and stories and getting a really meaningful insight into the process. Each thing I learned made me feel even more impressed. I was gobsmacked to learn that the gorgeous mural painted in the Willow’s Restaurant had been painted by an incredibly talented 18 year old, who earned the commission after painting a gorgeous watercolour of the building. What an incredible accomplishment at such a young age.
We both woke up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and very excited about the prospect of enjoying a morning without the stresses of dressing a three year old, making peanut butter toast to his exact specifications and navigating the nursery run.
We enjoyed a cup of tea in the room before making our way down to breakfast, which is included in all stays (as well it should be, in my opinion! I do enjoy a good hotel breakfast.).
Jim and I both just opted for the continental, enjoying toast, meats and cheeses, fruit and pastries. It really set us up for the day, and we both went off to work afterwards feeling ready to tackle anything. I can definitely think of worse ways to spend a Tuesday morning.
Laura Ashley The Tea Room
Had we not needed to dash off for work, I’d have loved to extend our morning by relaxing in the gardens followed by an afternoon tea. Although it wasn’t part of our experience on this visit (although you can read about our previous visit here), it would be remiss of me to write up this review without mentioning Laura Ashley The Tea Room at The Iliffe.
Having tasted the food the Willows Restaurant produces, I have no doubt that afternoon tea would be served to as high a standard, beautifully presented and irresistible. With the luxury of the linen table clothes, the well thought out décor and the green views out of the window, the experience would be a real treat.
Would we recommend?
Without a doubt, I’d have no hesitations in recommending Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe. With room prices starting from £89 for a Superior Room, I think the value for money is incredible, and I imagine you’ll have to get in quick to book before dates sell out. To find out more about this hotel, and to make your own booking, visit Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe, Coventry’s website.
Disclaimer: we were invited to stay at Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe on 29 July 2019 to celebrate it’s opening. All content, views and opinions remain my own.