Bedside manner a winner in Devon

An imposing Victorian-era building in Exeter, Devon, which once housed the West England Eye Hospital, has been converted into a 59-room hotel, the Magdalen Chapter.

While exterior and some heritage features remain, including wide hospital corridors and oak floors, each room has an iPad, complimentary minibar and coffee machine. Some rooms have views to the Haldon Hills, the high ground between the rivers Exe and Teign.

The hotel has an "inside-out pool" so that guests can swim year-round and sit by an open fire between laps. The day spa is within a walled garden and the hotel's lounge, with floor-to-ceiling glass, includes topiary lights to reflect the area's rural landscapes.

The restaurant, guided by British chef and author Simon Hopkinson, has a circus-top-style ceiling in the main dining area and a semi-private alcove, The Circle, to the side. The site's original potting shed with wood stove is available for private dining.

The hotel is within walking distance of the Norman-era Exeter Cathedral, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and, for the dandy or dandyess, the boutiques of Gandy Street.

It is the second property of Chapter Hotels, which opened the Montpellier in Cheltenham in 2010.

The company specialises in restoring period properties in British cities and towns. Magdalen Chapter rooms, via paperless check-in, cost from £152 ($230) a night.

See themagdalenchapter.com.

Spring fever

The 126,000-plus crowd of interstate and overseas guests to Canberra's Floriade, who stay an average of 3.1 nights, can add one more hotel to their where-to-stay-in-the-capital list.

The East Hotel, on Canberra Avenue between Manuka and Kingston, is about a 20-minute bike ride (the hotel will lend you a treadley) or 50-minute walk from Commonwealth Park, the site of the annual spring festival.

The hotel has polished concrete floors, recycled timber and a large central atrium with fireplace. A black ceiling punctuated with small holes gives a "limitless sky" effect and dark materials are juxtaposed with colourful furnishings. All 140 rooms have king beds and kitchen facilities. There are two children's studios with bunk beds, child-size furnishings and XBox Kinect.

The hotel also has a 24-hour gym, dedicated exercise classes and a restaurant and bar. A studio room costs from $300 a night; apartment from $350 a night. Floriade, now in its 25th year, begins on September 15 and runs until October 14. See easthotel.com.au; floriadeaustralia.com.

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