Hmm, a budget hotel a five-minute drive from Stansted Airport... doesn't sound very enticing, does it? Yet almost everything at Linden House is surprising and beautifully done, from the relaxed friendliness of the welcome to the funky yet high-end furnishings of the rooms and public areas. The bar buzzes away nicely downstairs, the restaurant serves food that non-residents flock to eat and all in all it's hard not to feel right at home from the moment you arrive. Best of all, its nine rooms have been fitted out thoughtfully and with some originality, with a nice balance of modern style and distressed antiqueness: there are big comfy beds, high-end bed linen and toiletries, well-appointed modern bathrooms with ample showers, along with TVs, DVDs and IPod docking stations and free wifi. It's not rocket science, and if we were to open a hotel, we'd like to think we'd do it a bit like this - with comfy rooms, a nice restaurant and bar and decent, non-rip-off prices. The only drawback might be the area, which apart from the airport is a bit off the tourist map. But there's loads to see and do nearby, and with a hotel like this, this close to London, it can only be a matter of time before Stansted becomes known as more than just a way of leaving the country (and, er, its location near the airport is kind of handy, too). Londoners, especially, take note.
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