The IIiffe’s location near Coventry is convenient to explore the Midlands and a beautiful base where you can relax in gorgeous natural surroundings. The Iliffe boutique hotel is the second under designer Laura Ashley’s own brand, after The Belsfield Hotel, Windermere. After undergoing a thorough refurbishment, the Iliffe now boasts elegant new interiors showcasing the Laura Ashley Home range, with its high-quality inherently British fabrics and furnishings throughout.
The building is a stunning example of Victorian architecture surrounded by three acres of attractive landscaped gardens. The new design takes inspiration from the grand sweeping staircase leading upstairs to the new beautifully designed Laura Ashley bedrooms, which evoke the splendour of the past in what would have been a grand country house.
The land on which the property is located has a colourful history dating back to 1257 and was once owned by King Henry VIII. The property is named after the gentleman it was constructed for in the late 1890s, Dr Charles Webb Iliffe. He was a well-respected figure in the local medical community, and his wife, a young debutante, Mary Ann Soden. Every part of the hotel has been redesigned honouring the hotel’s Victorian heritage, with carefully selected rich colours and exhuberant furnishings to create an elegant space to entice comfort and relaxation.
Speaking on the hotel’s redesign, Kay Cullen, Commercial Designer for Laura Ashley, said: “I was charmed by this majestic building which was once a grand manor house. The beautiful sweeping staircase takes you on a journey through the owner’s past with a portrait of the glamorous lady Mary Ann Soden as a debutante in the mid 1800s. To pay homage to the decadence this image portrays, I decided to bring back a sense of the past and to embrace the detail within this magnificent old building.”
The boutique hotel’s 17 superior and deluxe bedrooms have been designed to infuse a sense of tranquillity with an effortless style. Classic Laura Ashley design adorns every surface, from plush cushions, to Laura Ashley Glenmore chairs in marine velvet, floor-to-ceiling drapes and statement lighting and Laura Ashley Constellation Champagne and Gold Constance Mirrors. The Tea Room, located on the top floor opened back in 2018, and was the first sample of Laura Ashley’s style in this property.
Classic leather Hudson button back sofas add a touch of luxury and are a nod to the gentleman’s library that would have been cherished by the Iliffe family. There is even a bespoke bookshelf which separates the bar from the lounge space, with a secret pocket door which opens to connect both spaces when required. In the main restaurant, there is a hand painted mural to reflect the surrounding grounds and to add a little country manor house romance to the space.
The Laura Ashley Hotels portfolio is expanding really quickly, soon including the Burnham Beeches Hotel in Buckinghamshire. Behind all these properties, there is the constant aim to offer guests an authentic home away from home experience, all of them with the unmistakable stamp of Laura Ashley’s designs.
The IIiffe has just been awarded four stars by the AA and the restaurant is receiving many plaudits. I fully understand why after a delightful dinner served in the elegant dining room. From a good selection of dishes on the menu, I chose fried prawns in a chilli sauce for my first course, steak in peppercorn sauce with twice fried chips for main and an indulgent caramel dessert with cream to finish such a memorable meal.
The staff were superb and very attentive, showing an excellent knowledge of the menu and of possible drinks to accompany the meal. This same level of professionalism and friendliness was continued at breakfast, which is served in the same room. The Continental buffet offers a wide variety of choices, with the option of enjoying a hot breakfast served to the table. One could easily see that all the ingredients were very fresh, and the quality of the food very high. That was a breakfast that really set me up for the day ahead.