Inside the luxury hotel chain coming to Devon
- Credit: Hotel Indigo
It’s the fun, funky and foodie hotel chain which will soon be here in Devon. As Hotel Indigo starts to take shape ahead of its Exeter opening, ANDY COOPER visits two other venues in the chain to experience what they have to offer
Regular visitors to Exeter city centre cannot fail to have noticed the steady transformation in the past few months of one of the city’s most high prominent locations – the former House of Fraser building on the High Street.
The sense that “something was happening” only increased a few weeks back when banners were draped on the building announcing that Hotel Indigo was coming soon, along with a shopping and dining experience to be known as Colson’s Parade, in a nod to the department store which traded for years from the site.
Those in the know have already discovered that the 104-bedroom hotel will form the main part of the complex and will feature a ‘glass box’ rooftop bar and restaurant which has panoramic views across the city. But those even further in the know – like lucky me – can assure you this is going to be a major asset for Exeter.
I can confidently state this having conducted something of a reconnaissance mission on your behalf, dear readers, by visiting a couple of the hotel chain’s existing venues in Chester and Bath. And having enjoyed fabulous stays at both I am pleased to report back this – look out Exeter (and Devon)...something special this way comes.
I can say this having undergone what one might describe as the full Indigo Induction...that is the chance to stay in some beautifully appointed hotel rooms, done in style, whilst enjoying impeccable service. And that’s before I even come onto the wonders of the restaurant offering. If they pull this off in Exeter – and why wouldn’t they – then we foodies and lovers of a good time out are in for a real treat.
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It’s a long way from Devon (a seven-and-a-half-hour drive on my trip, but that might have been down to the stupidity of travelling on a Friday) but when you arrive at Hotel Indigo Chester you forget what went before and lap up the experience.
A contemporary boutique hotel located in the heart of the historic city, Hotel Indigo Chester opened in June 2019 and was designed to reflect the city’s famous architecture. It might be a modern design of building but it perfectly complements the edge-of-city-centre site it occupies. It’s the ideal spot to use as a base for exploring beautiful Chester and the wider region around it.
Just as no two neighbourhoods are alike, no two Hotel Indigo properties are. Each is designed to uniquely reflect the local culture, character, and history of the surrounding area. Hotel Indigo hotels create a truly memorable experience by artfully combining the modern design and intimate service associated with a boutique hotel, with the conveniences and consistencies you can expect from staying at one of the world's largest hotel groups.
The hotel has 75 guest rooms decorated in three beautiful themes, each inspired by the history and locality of historic Chester. All rooms are equipped with comfy Hypnos beds with luxury Egyptian cotton linen, spa-inspired bathrooms, Nespresso coffee machines, high speed wi-fi and a variety of channels on a 40in flat screen TV.
Our room was bright and airy and was a fabulous sanctuary to chill out in when the shopping and exploring got too much. We loved the little design touches and lighting options which proved much thought had gone into the interior design.
But never mind the surroundings of our room, the highlight of our stay was undoubtedly dinner at The Forge, the 70-seater restaurant, cocktail bar and private dining room run by chef and restaurateur Mike Robinson.
The Forge continues Robinson’s passion for British food, using only British ingredients, with an emphasis on wild produce and sustainability. The open kitchen cooks over wood and charcoal, using amazing wild and locally reared meat, that is all aged on the premises. And when the menu starts with the option to partake of something from ‘The Drinks Trolley’ as special cocktails are made for you at table, then you really know you are in for a properly memorable evening. And we were.
And having experienced some of the Hotel Indigo magic in Chester, a venue somewhat closer to home came calling for our next stop...
Having a Grandy old time...
For our next stop at Hotel Indigo Bath, we had extra company in tow, in the shape of our four-year-old granddaughter Bonnie. And how lovely it was to share the experience of this super luxurious spot with the next generation of reviewers! The hospitality and warmth exhibited by the staff was impeccable...young Bon was as important to them as Grandma and ‘Grandy’ were.
Hotel Indigo Bath is set in a beautiful honey coloured Georgian Terrace and opened its doors in autumn last year after a multi-million-pound major restoration project. The hotel is situated on the peaceful street of South Parade, just steps from the city centre and, again – just like Chester - is the ideal stepping off point to explore the historic city.
There are 166 guest rooms designed around five themes reflecting the history and locality of Bath. Once more, all rooms enjoy the superb combination of facilities and excellence in design touches which we had enjoyed in Chester. These Hotel Indigo venues are truly onto something in terms of their attention to detail and determination to do things a little differently.
And on that topic, within the building sits The Elder, a new restaurant from multi-award-winning West Country restaurateur Mike Robinson. Part of the hotel, The Elder restaurant and bar are independently run and owned by Mike, with Gavin Edney as executive chef. This is where breakfast is served, and hotel guests can book a table for lunch or dinner, or have a drink and snack at the bar during the day and evening.
The Elder offers a menu which is not just your ‘same old, same old’ fare and it’s clear sourcing locally and in an innovative way is what drives the team. A minor quibble might be that the menu doesn't really cater for children, to be honest, and so it might have helped all round if we hadn’t been advised that the junior member of our party could dine with us because it seemed to put us and chef into something of a tailspin, but the arrival of some sausages in a brioche bun eventually calmed the situation. But I wouldn’t really contemplate taking children there again. That hopefully might be some sound advice to the Exeter venue too in terms of getting the messaging right.
A minor complaint, though, as I said, and a bounteous breakfast more than catered for our Granddaughter Number One’s culinary needs and it wasn’t long before we were sadly checking out of our spacious room and vacating what is a truly beautiful hotel.
Lucky Exeter then to be home to something of this ilk in not-so-distant future. Some would say blue is the colour, but for me it’s Indigo which is the spot on the spectrum where you head for elegant hospitality delivered with excellence and elan.
Try them for yourself...
For more information about Hotel Indigo Chester visit here.
For more information about Hotel Indigo Bath visit here.