We love foodie weekend getaways, but prefer to save our pennies for great food and drink. Here are our favourite cheap hotels that are stylish and comfortable but don’t break the bank. From pop up restaurants in an arts hotel in an up-and-coming area in London, to a full continental spread in a stylish hotel in Paris, to a cheap base in Tallinn to discover New Nordic cuisine, all of these hotels are in prime foodie neighbourhoods.
After a ‘rough luxe’ revamp, the old offices of the North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company in gritty Wood Green are now a hip budget hotel and restaurant, Green Rooms. A social enterprise, it offers affordable accommodation for visiting creatives (other guests are also welcome, at higher rates).
In its bedrooms, studio apartments and dormitories the vibe is back-to-basics with style, with simple white bedlinen and vintage wooden furniture. The hotel’s restaurant is an incubator project running pop-up residencies for would-be restaurateurs.
Supported by Johnny Smith, who took The Clove Club from supper club to Michelin-starred restaurant, the first resident was Esteban Arboleda of Colombian Street Kitchen, who dished up plump sweetcorn croquettes, fragrant chicken tamales and pink and black salads. The second residency (still under wraps as we went to press) kicks off in February. Here are our other favourite London foodie hotels.
Comic strip wallpaper and complimentary Tunnocks teacakes are just two of the quirky touches at the Grassmarket Hotel, a playful retreat in Edinburgh’s lively Grassmarket area.
One of a clutch of hotels launched by the G1 Group in the city over the last few years (the others are The Inn on the Mile, Stay Central and the Murrayfield House Hotel) the focus might be on fun rather than food (there are copies of Beano in reception, the distance to local attractions is measured in footsteps and you have to stumble next door to Biddy Mulligan’s pub for breakfast) but you’re in the heart of Scotland’s culinary capital and the Grassmarket is peppered with pubs and restaurants.
For breakfast you can count the footsteps to nearby Swedish bakery and café Peter’s Yard for a moreish cardamom bun and coffee. Just round the corner on Victoria Street mooch around gourmet stores such as champion cheesemaker I J Mellis and liquid deli Demi John – fill the glass bottles with everything from signature malt whisky to olive oil – while on Saturdays there’s a weekly farmers’ market right outside your door.
Designed by a fashion editor-turned-hotelier Hotel Henriette is on the Rive Gauche, tucked along a quiet cobbled street in the Mouffetard district. Its 32 rooms are decked out with vintage fabrics and flea market finds and there’s a lovely courtyard garden, plus a breakfast room with a distinct Scandinavian vibe.
Breakfast can be eaten inside or out and runs to a full continental spread (€12pp), from cake and croissants to charcuterie. Don’t overdo it though; the hotel’s list of restaurant recommendations is longer than a baguette.
Almost 200 suggestions are split by neighbourhood, from Montmartre’s Café Lomi coffee shop to pretty patisserie Carette in Trocadero. Recommendations closer to the hotel include everything from Moroccan to contemporary French. Even Breton – the menu at L’Auberge du Roi Gradlon features haddock tart with Roscoff onions, galettes and, for dessert, Kouign amann with salted caramel. For where to drink in Paris, check out our guide here.
Estonia is a worthy member of the New Nordic food scene, with stylishly simple cafes and restaurants tapping into local ingredients. To experience this first-hand, check into Merchant’s House Hotel, in Tallinn’s Old Town. Its 32 rooms are centred around 14th and 16th century buildings that are rich with ancient fireplaces and beamed ceilings, hand-painted frescoes and hidden stairways.
Bedrooms themselves are fairly modern in style, though the Merchant’s Suite (scarlet walls, hand-painted wooden ceiling and clawfoot bath) and Courtyard Suite (large fireplace, exposed stone walls and private sauna) have a little more history.
There’s also a bar and restaurant on site but location is key; it’s an ideal base for exploring the city’s restaurants. You’ll find a guide to our favourite places to eat in Tallinn here but they include Art Priori, whose veg-focused seasonal cooking is minutes away, and New Nordic pioneer, Leib.
Alma Lusa opened in 2016 in Lisbon’s historic neighbourhood of Baixa-Chiado. A 28-room hotel in a renovated 18th-century building, at its heart is a relaxed bistro-style restaurant, Delfina, that calls itself a Portuguese deli.
The menu celebrates rustic regional cuisine created from the country’s rich larder with classic dishes such as bacalhau a bras (a moreish concoction of scrambled egg, strips of salt cod, onion and crispy fries) and codfish Canja (cod broth with mint and boiled egg).
Or how about grouper brazed with cockle rice, sautéed spinach and sesame dressing? At breakfast don’t miss the homemade tomato marmalade. For more on Alma Lusa see here, and we also have a great foodie guide to Lisbon here.
Boutique hotel Casa Bonay catapulted onto Barcelona’s vibrant gourmet scene at the beginning of 2016. Set in a renovated 19th-century townhouse, it’s ancient meets modern with restored period features, original tiled floors and contemporary Catalan design.
The in-house fusion restaurant, Elephant, Crocodile & Monkey, comes courtesy of Argentine biologist-turned-chef Estanislao Carenzo who already has four restaurants in Madrid. The rustic-chic dining room, with its bare brick walls and reclaimed furniture, dishes up Argentine/Catalan dishes in the evenings (such as Iberian pork on a bed of kale and aduki beans, washed down with a range of natural wines, ciders and rare sherries) while, at lunchtimes, it turns into a Vietnamese pop-up with attitude, TET, serving spring rolls with banana ketchup.
What’s more, the hotel boasts a branch of Mother, Spain’s first cold-pressed juice bar and Satan’s Coffee Corner. Barista Marcos Bartolome also livens up breakfast in the bar, Libertine: Korean kimchi vegetables first thing anyone? For more on Casa Bonay see here.
Written by Lucy Gillmore & Rhiannon Batten, January 2017