Review by Fiona Duncan, published 23rd December 2007.
Ordinary mortals, avert your eyes. I'm in a new "lifestyle hotel" and you may not be welcome. We're certainly not "rock and roll" enough, especially as we've just come from the deeply moving, delightfully Dad's Army unveiling of the new war memorial in our village and arrived with a strong sense of what the English countryside really means, rather than the lifestyle backdrop that this hotel prefers to reduce it to - "the Cotswolds is [sic] a truly unique hideaway", its irritating, tricksy and largely obscure website informs us.
Cotswolds88hotel used to be the Painswick Hotel, but now it's the "dream and conception" of Marchella de Angelis, a half-Chinese, half-Italian former rock chick and founding member of the hip Shoreditch club, Lounge Lover.
Marchella is into all sorts of things, including feng shui and numerology (hence the "88"), organic, holistic living, cutting-edge art, eclectic design. "People come to be," we read on the website. "The vibe is soulful hip...this is a place to come and really live, to embrace the joy of life, where mind, body and spirit mingle with laughter."
Unless, that is, there are no other guests to laugh with, as on our visit, and unless you complain about something, in which case you are likely to be asked to leave. "I'm a Buddhist," explains Marchella, "and I believe that one negative seed, however small, breeds negativity." That's why she has a smart sign by the door, probably the only hotel in Britain to do so, that reads "the management reserve the right to refuse entry".
One couple, she tells us, have already been asked to leave - to their astonishment - on complaining about the piped music. "You either get this hotel or you don't. If you don't, then leave." Another had the temerity to ask where the kettle was in their room, although whether this resulted in expulsion I'm not sure.
I only hope, for Marchella's sake, that the people who do "get it" start leaping into their Porsches and nipping down to Cotswolds88hotel in their droves. They might: it's hip, it's new, it's attracting attention and Marchella's unique attitude could just draw rather than repel. That's the idea anyway.
What will they find? A stunning late Palladian house, with a stunning makeover displaying Marchella's forte: interior design. Part Art Nouveau, part psychedelic, part antique, very original, finished to an extremely high standard. A Classical exterior with a funky interior that really works. I fervently hope this place loses its killer pretentiousness because, design-wise, it's a breath of fresh air.
The staff seemed charming, too, and the food, while nothing like as wonderful as it's puffed up to be (do they really say a mantra before each breakfast preparation?) is more than acceptable, with a highly original, carefully sourced organic wine list. A conventional hotel with a fun and funky twist. What's wrong with that?
It's not enough for Marchella. The sign by the door goes on: "No walking boots and wind jackets in the restaurant or bar". Really? I thought this was a place "to appreciate the true beauty of Mother Nature". And then it informs its arriving guests that "rudeness and assaults on the staff will not be tolerated". Am I really reading this? Not a very soulful vibe.
Kemps Lane, Painswick (01452 813688; www.cotswolds88hotel.com). Doubles from £200 per night, including breakfast.