Curious to seek sanctuary somewhere special?
12 June 2019
Not many places in the world can lay claim to legends like that. A Curious Group of Hotels most certainly can. The company has four hotels: Cowley Manor and C-Side Spa in the Cotswolds near Cheltenham; the Portobello Hotel in west London; L’Hotel in St Germain-des-Prés, Paris; and Canal House in Jordaan, the cultural centre of Amsterdam.
Imagine sleeping in a circular bed that rock star Robbie Williams was so taken with he tried to buy. Or perhaps enjoying a Parisian sanctuary that was the last building Oscar Wilde called home. Or then again, strolling through the gorgeous gardens in the Cotswolds that gave Lewis Carroll the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
The Curious Group of Hotels is the work of Peter and Jessica Frankopan. “Cowley Manor was our first hotel. We wanted it to be fun, modern and relaxing – a new kind of countryside escape where luxury, design and outstanding service make for the perfect getaway from the city.” Jessica explains.
True to their word, Cowley Manor was one of the founders of the luxury rural boutique hotel and spa idea when it was launched in 2002. Originally, this Italian-style stately home nestled in 55 acres of Grade II listed gardens and had 47 bedrooms. But when the Frankopans took it over they remodelled the interior of the house to give each bedroom a generous sized bathroom.
Rather like DS, they pride themselves on combining technology with luxury materials and traditional build techniques
“We used modern building materials and celebrated modern design, while also paying attention to the historical features that have survived,” Jessica says.
The extensive and beautifully maintained gardens give children plenty of room to let off steam while unrelated adults can relax away from them. And if exercise is your thing, there’s a fully equipped gym with indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
Should you want a haven in our capital, the Portobello Hotel oozes Bohemian elegance and prides itself on a laidback approach to luxury. With 21 rooms, just minutes from the famous Portobello Road Market, the hotel claims to have been the first boutique hotel in London.
Its sibling is in the home city of DS Automobiles. L’Hotel says it’s the world’s first boutique hotel and is one of the smallest five-star hotels in Paris. Once a private house (hence the Oscar Wilde connection) on the chic artists’ haven of the Left Bank, it’s ideally located to explore the French capital’s culture from.
Each bedroom is stylish and luxurious with painstaking attention to detail and for added pampering there’s a subterranean hammam pool or Turkish bath. “Capitals are busy, bustling places filled with noises, sounds and smells – and Paris is about as spectacular and vivid as you get.” Jessica says. “I can’t stand hotels where I could be anywhere. L’Hôtel is the opposite. You could only be in Paris.”
The fourth hotel, Canal House, is beside Amsterdam’s famous Kreizersgracht. It’s three 17thCentury merchants’ houses combined into an exclusive 23-room hotel. Unusually for Amsterdam, there’s a large, secluded garden which makes the perfect retreat for relaxing before going out, or after a hard day’s sight-seeing. And the G&Ts before supper are famous among those in the know.
Details like this are plainly vital to the Frankopans and one of the secrets to the success of their hotels. Jessica reveals: “I can’t bear things that look good but don’t work; or worse, things that work but don’t look good. It pays to spend time getting the details right!”
We couldn’t agree more.