For years, Little Hotels specialised solely in Spain and the Spanish islands so inevitably we are still best known for carefully chosen small hotels in Spain. Now that we are covering hotels in a few other countries too, we offer a much wider choice for your next holiday. Let's look at a few of the places that we recommend.
The South-West is the perfect place for a "staycation" so we list lots of hotels in Devon and Cornwall. One of the most idyllic locations is South Sands. Perfectly positioned on the Salcombe estuary, it has a fabulous view and a brilliant seafood restaurant. Relax on the terrace, keep an eye on the children playing on the beach, and watch the boats go by.
If England is not a "staycation" for you (or even if it is!), London is a must-see destination. Finding hotels in capital cities that are worthy of inclusion in Little Hotels is surprisingly hard. We have a few in London though and Egerton House has one of the most exclusive addresses of all in Knightsbridge. It is filled with immaculate attention to detail and impeccable service, and even looks out over a surprisingly quiet garden.
We were enchanted by Blanchland when we stayed at the Lord Crewe Arms during a visit to the North-East. The pub/hotel started out as a mediaeval abbey and the entire village has been owned by the Lord Crewe Trustees since the 18th century. As a result it remains a perfectly unspoilt village with nothing to ruin the effect.
The wild mountains of Scotland are a paradise for hikers, mountain-bikers and horse-riders, but you don't have to be that energetic. Just drive the uncrowded roads, admire the amazing landscapes at every turn and stop wherever you want to take in the view. And don't forget the famous whisky distilleries that will welcome you in for a tour. One of our favourite hotels in the Highlands is Glencoe House. It's a stunningly extravagant experience in a magnificent Victorian mansion overlooking Loch Leven. It's not cheap of course, but it will leave fantastic memories long after the bill has been forgotten.
If Glencoe House blows the budget, Little Hotels has many much more modestly priced hotels that all meet our high standards.
The French Riviera, the Côte d'Azur, Provence: call it what you will, the South of France has long been a destination for sunshine with a touch of glamour. There's only room to mention one hotel today, so we've chosen The Address Cassis. It's a delicious B&B with an atmosphere of understated luxury, set in a verdant garden with views of the Mediterranean.
At the other end of the country in Brittany there's La Maison Pavie, a 15th century half-timbered house in the historic centre of Dinan, near St Malo. While it retains all of it's original features, it is also a paragon of contemporary design, blending the two styles in a clever harmony.
The Loire valley is famous for its chateaux. We've known Chateau de Vaulogé near Le Mans, and Chateau de la Barre hosted by the Comte and Comtesse de Vanssay for a long time. They're two very popular hotels with our visitors.
Finally let's not forget France's own Mediterranean island: Corsica. We have hotels close to the coast with spectacular sea views (Cala di Greco, for instance) and could contrast that with La Marlotte which is a rustic little village B&B in the Corsican mountains.
Italy is still a work-in-progress for us at the moment. It's coming along well though and we've already found some really good hotels in the most popular cultural destinations: Rome, Venice and Florence. Margaret has a particular favourite in Florence, which is the Palazzo Ridolfi. No-one will ever accuse Margaret of slumming it!
Who wouldn't want to stay in a hotel that is right on the beach? Well the Torre Mozza takes "on the beach" to a whole new level. While half the hotel is literally on the the beach, the other half is in the sea. Wonderful!
The coast is always an enduring attraction but we've also been finding some lovely hotels in the Italian Lakes. To take just one example, there's B&B Lago Maggiore. It does "exactly what it says on the tin", being a bed-and-breakfast in a truly spectacular hillside position overlooking Lake Maggiore.
Down in the far south-west corner of Ireland, Carrig Country House is a personal favourite, though it's still hard to determine which is the best bit: the beautifully-tended gardens, the majestic lake, the luxurious interiors or the fabulous food. We stayed three nights, and still couldn't decide!
Irish pubs are justifiably famous the world over and we picked out The Cuan as an especially fine specimen. It's a pub, restaurant and hotel all rolled into one, located in the main square of Strangford village, just 100 metres from the shore of Strangford Lough itself. The Cuan was the Game of Thrones cast’s choice for accommodation, food and drink over a number of weeks while filming at Winterfell Castle. Through this connection, the hotel is able to offer Game of Thrones themed meals including a Winterfell Breakfast and the King's Banquet.
And finally.... I can tolerate any viewpoint, except intolerance.