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Hotel review: Hotel Indigo Exeter city centre

One of the hotel suites, with views of the cathedral. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo Exeter
One of the hotel suites, with views of the cathedral. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo Exeter

It’s slightly embarrassing, but it takes me a complete circuit of the outside of the building before I work out the entrance to Hotel Indigo.

However, in my defence, this is the Dingles building, sorry ‘was’ the Dingles building, which was owned by House of Fraser. In those heady days of the high street department store we’d walk in through the Exeter store’s double glass doors, straight off the bustling main shopping thoroughfare.

So it is a surprise to enter what's now a hotel, via what was once the side door, the one you sometimes used in the back corner of the... was it handbag section?

Great British Life: The reception desk is a nod to the building's history. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo ExeterThe reception desk is a nod to the building's history. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo Exeter

How many people have walked into Hotel Indigo Exeter and reminisced about the old days of Dingles? It’s to be expected, and once inside, trying to place where you are in relation to the old store, is part of the enjoyment of a first visit.

The all-important first impression is really lovely, the entrance foyer and reception area has plenty of places to sit and Colson’s bar is a focal point; it is busy with activity and so feels very welcoming and rather luxurious in a kind of, ’let’s just stop and have a glass of wine’ kind of way.

The site has been home to a department store since it was Colsons in the 1800s. That's quite some legacy and it’s one that has been carefully incorporated into the new hotel. Its restaurant is named Colson’s and the front desk is a former old fashioned shop counter, there are little haberdashery refences in the rooms too. I enjoy talking the stairs, rather than the lift, as it again takes me back to the old shop’s days, but it also makes you aware of the building’s 1030s styling in its walls and windows – perhaps noticed more without the surrounding clutter of items for sale.

Great British Life: Arriving at the hotel you are greeted by the beautiful Colson's bar. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo ExeterArriving at the hotel you are greeted by the beautiful Colson's bar. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo Exeter

We are staying in an attic room, a suite which is beautifully laid out and very comfortable. Splashes of colour provided by the furnishings give it a bright, happy feel as does the quirky, Magritte-style artworks on the wall – all characteristic of the Hotel Indigo group of boutique hotels.

After toying with the the idea of having a coffee from the Nespresso machine we decide to try out the rooftop cocktail bar, Becketts. It had been recommended by the chap on reception and I’m so glad we went along, as it is a stunner. But a word of caution, do make sure you book if a visit is on the cards – it is very popular and fills up very quickly and just because you’re staying doesn’t mean you will automatically get in.

The bar has a large outdoor area which boasts fabulous views over the city’s rooftops and trees, over to the Exe Estuary and distant hills. And the cathedral – what a spectacle! We are blessed with a warm evening and a setting sun which enhances the whole experience and it’s so hard to tear yourself away, but dinner awaits and it’s back down to Colson’s on the ground floor.

Great British Life: Becketts rooftop bar is a must-visit. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo ExeterBecketts rooftop bar is a must-visit. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo Exeter

The restaurant certainly knows how to please with its selection of grill dishes, whether it’s steak, fish or even the veg on the side, they make full use of cooking over fire, to produce intense, moreish flavours. The 8oz treacle cured fat iron steak with its serving of triple cooked chips, portobello mushroom and fire roasted tomatoes is a hit, and the herb crusted halibut is equally pleasing, with its courgette verde. The starters are excellent too, in particular, the very pretty truffled goats’ cheese, beetroot and apple dish which gives a light and lovely contrast to the heartier mains.

With the addition of popular classics like burgers and fish and chips, this is a very easy to enjoy menu, and yet it also has some more adventurous options, with inspired culinary twists.

Hotel Indigo is a great option for a city break and it has a spa too, which will no doubt add to the appeal. The spa, along with the restaurant and rooftop bar, means this is also a very appealing place to drop in, somewhere to indulge in a little luxury – right in the centre of the city.

exeter.hotelindigo.com

Great British Life: The entrance is on a corner of the building in Catherine Street. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo ExeterThe entrance is on a corner of the building in Catherine Street. Photo: Veerle Evens/Hotel Indigo Exeter



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