Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Ellington Leeds

25 Nov 2008 by Sara Turner

BACKGROUND The Ellington opened on
September 8 and is the first property to open under the Pantin Hotels brand,
which was founded in 2006 by former managing director of Rocco Forte, David
Pantin. The hotel is also a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World,
the only one in England outside of London. A second Pantin hotel, The Crispin
(also in Leeds), is scheduled to open in 2010, and a contract has been signed
to build a third property in Krakow, Poland.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? This small
boutique hotel is a redbrick new-build property featuring contemporary but cosy
interiors with an art deco flavour. There are dark wooden floors throughout the
public areas and floor-to-ceiling windows in the lounge facing the street. The
décor contrasts the neutral shades of the walls with deep gold, grey, green and
blue furnishings upholstered in velvety fabric with oversized patterns.

WHERE IS IT? The hotel is located
five minutes’ walk from the main station in York Place, a quiet street in the
heart of Leed’s financial district.

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 35 rooms
in four categories including one Suite, two Junior Suites, two accessible
rooms, ten Executive, ten Superior and ten Classic rooms.

ROOM FACILITIES The bedrooms come
in three colour schemes – red, gold and blue – and all feature a king-size bed
with ceiling-high velvet padded headboard with walnut trim, a workdesk,
Chesterfield armchairs, a leather-panelled wardrobe (with umbrella and trouser
press inside), plasma screen TV with iPod docking station, DVD player and
satellite television, a safe, three phones, tea and espresso-making facilities,
and a minibar stocked with a selection of snacks and drinks. There is also a
recipe for how to make the perfect martini, along with an extra 200ml bottle of
Belvedere vodka (£15.50) and a cocktail shaker (if you like it shaken not
stirred).

While some rooms overlook the
atrium and bar (windows are well soundproofed) others look out onto a courtyard
and building behind or onto the street in front. In terms of amenities, the
only difference between the room categories is that guests in Executive rooms
and above will also find a dessert platter laid out on arrival and, in the
evening, a small selection of canapés are delivered courtesy of the kitchen. If
guests decide to spend an evening in, the hotel offers a DVD library of around
50 films, preloaded iPods, and the complimentary use of Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii
systems. And free wifi is also available to access throughout the hotel.

My compact Executive room
bathroom, fitted with white tiling and white fittings, featured a combined bath
and shower (with additional rainshower head above), a waffle robe, slippers,
Bulgari toiletries and a framed page of sheet music on the wall. (Guests should
note that if you want to pull the plug in the sink, you have to push the lever
underneath it, which is hard to find if you don’t know where to look.)

RESTAURANTS AND BARS There is a
lounge area on the ground floor by reception with cube-shaped coffee tables,
armchairs and a piano, which the bartender plays from time to time. In the
evenings, soft jazz is played overhead, in keeping with The Ellington’s
1950s-inspired theme with walls decorated in black and white photographs of
musical greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and the famous pianist Duke Ellington
himself. A double-sided bar separates the Lounge from the Bar at the Ellington,
a funky pink-lit space beneath an atrium (with a glass roof which opens to the
sky), serving a good selection of cocktails as well as afternoon tea.

Downstairs is the subterranean
Restaurant at The Ellington, fitted with aubergine-coloured banquette seating
and crystal-curtain hangings. The 56-seat fine-dining venue offers a seasonal
“classic modern” menu overseen by world-renowned chef Albert Roux OBE, and an à
la carte breakfast (plus buffet) served from 7-10am (Mon-Fri) and 7.30-10.30am
(Sat-Sun). While there are limited vegetarian options, I was more than
satisfied with a dinner of smooth tomato and basil soup (£6.50) to start,
followed by poached halibut with smoked salmon and leeks (£19.50) and a side
order of garden vegetables (£3.50). There is also an excellent sommelier (the
22-year-old Igor Huttler) on-hand to advise on wine choices.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
There are two meeting rooms (both with natural daylight) on the ground floor:
the Boardroom, a panelled room with a long walnut table and plush brown seating
for up to 14; and the Wellington Room, suitable for private dining for up to 20
cabaret-style. (There’s also a small terrace outside where people go to smoke.)
Delegates can also hire the York Room (the living room of one of the suites) on
the second floor in the loft, which is suitable for up to eight people.
State-of-the-art audio-visual equipment and wifi internet access is available
in all these rooms.

LEISURE FACILITIES There is no gym
or pool in the hotel but guests can ask for a jogging map from reception, use
Wii Fit in the bedrooms or make use of the fitness centre at the nearby Crowne
Plaza hotel, which The Ellington has an arrangement with.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The real plus
points are the free wifi, use of DVDs, iPods and Xbox/PS3/Wii systems in the
bedrooms. The cocktail recipe card and shaker are also nice touches although
you will, of course, get a cheaper drink in the bar.

VERDICT The Ellington is a
refreshing alternative to large luxury hotels and conveniently located for
anyone doing business in Leeds. The atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious
and, even though the hotel does not have a star rating, the service is top-notch.

PRICES Rates start from £190 for a
Classic Double room.

CONTACT The Ellington, 23-25 York
Place; tel +44 (0)113 204 2150; pantinhotels.com.

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