MT Business travel: Room service where Martin Marshall stays

For Business I like quirky hotels and Jonathans' Hotel in Oldbury, just outside Birmingham, is the most unusual business hotel I've ever stayed in. From the outside it looks quite normal, but inside it is a replica of a 19th-century family townhouse. There are 48 bedrooms, no two the same. Each one looks like a parlour, many with book-lined walls.

by Martin Marshall, general manager for Piaggio Ltd in the UK
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Some have open fires, one is in a tower, one has a secret entrance door, and the Bilston room has a six-poster bed. I'm always disappointed if I get the same room twice! It's a good venue for conferences as the rooms and decor get everyone talking. If you manage to find your way to the hotel's central area (the hotel issues its own map), you'll see what looks like an enclosed 19th-century street, with a pub and bric-a-brac shops.

The hotel also has a Victorian restaurant serving traditional British food. It's great value and the staff are attentive and discreet.


The Chale Paradise Island resort on an island off Kenya is a hideaway. It has 55 rooms, mostly tented bungalows with storm lamps, four-poster beds and polished mahogany floors. Just getting there is amazing - you follow jungle tracks through to the coast, with monkeys in the trees above, then if it's low tide a canopied tractor pulls you across 600m of mudflats to the island. My room had a veranda from which you could almost dive straight into the Indian Ocean. None of the rooms or cottages face one another, so you have total privacy. Chale is home to a turtle-breeding ground, and you can snorkel and scuba. The food is excellent, and the fish is caught half an hour before you eat it. You can drink a G&T on your veranda as the sun goes down, or go to the friendly bar. I'd love to go back. It's sheer escapism.

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