A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a mini-break and meet up with a couple of friends in Brighton. We were looking for somewhere nice and affordable to stay but with a little bit of personality. Haphazardly, and happily, we stumbled across the fun and funky Snooze guesthouse.
Situated in Brighton’s cool and quirky district of Kemptown, with its myriad independent shops, bars and restaurants, Snooze is a near-perfect boutique hotel with bags of style. If, like me, you like to stay somewhere that provides inspiration and escapism as well as fluffy towels, mod-cons and a cracking breakfast, then this might just be for you.
Snooze has been lovingly renovated and furnished with a combination of vintage and contemporary design, ensuring every one of the six rooms and two suites available has a look and feel all of its own. The decor of our room instantly transported us to the swinging Sixties with its way-out wallpaper, original furniture and classically kitsch prints.
But Snooze offers more than just style – this place has substance too. We loved the laid-back unpretentious feel of the place and the two couples who run it. You are made to feel relaxed and at home, yet nothing is too much trouble either. You can tell that Snooze has been a labour of love for these guys, and they have put their hearts and souls into the business. Consequently Snooze is one of those rare finds; an experience that surprises and satisfies in all the right ways and a real antidote to the carbon-copy blandness of most chains.
And best of all, it leaves you wanting more. I’d love to go back and try a different room each time!
Following the success of the inaugural Vintage at Goodwood festival, which took place last month, I spoke to the event’s mastermind Wayne Hemingway to find out how it was for him….
Q: Have you recovered from the festival yet or are you already working on the next one?
A: We’ve learned loads. Obviously we’ve created something that people really like. From what they are saying we have leapfrogged all other festivals. The feedback has been amazing – the best festival they’ve ever been to.
But we’ve now got to build on that. Over the last few weeks we’ve been having lots of debrief meetings to discuss where we go from here and how we approach the next one. Nobody can really understand how much work goes into creating something like this – it takes over your life.
Q: How would you like to develop the festival or try to improve on it?
A: Now we have to work out how to deliver a sustainable event and to improve on it each time. There are a few things that need tweaking such as the parking and the variety of food options. I know that some of the clubs were a bit rammed and people had to queue too. But there was a lot we got right. The content was spot on, especially the music element as well as things like the fashion shows, the shops and the kids’ activities.
Q: Why do you think the festival resonated with people today?
A: There were so many fun things to do. We definitely got it right because people don’t just want to see a band when they go to a festival. This event was intended as a voyage of discovery in the sense that it gave an in-depth look into the underground scenes of lots of different kinds of music and design but in an accessible way. Importantly it didn’t feel nostalgic though. We were keen that it didn’t feel like were looking back but that it was fresh and exciting.
Key to the success of the festival is not packing people in so that everyone has a chance to experience what they want to. Unlike other festivals, this is not about the numbers. We are capping ticket sales at 25,000, which is small in comparison to say Reading at 90,000 and even Bestival at 45,000. We’re looking at a business model that may involve sponsorship to offset the need to have a larger audience so that we can make it financially sustainable.
Q: Did you feel the event was a personal success?
A: I received an email this week that really made my day. It was from a guy who had come to the festival with his 80 year old mum and his 25 year old son. They’d spent the weekend talking about his mum’s life during the war and spent time in the Torch club where she got to dance like she used to do as a girl. Now the 25 year old is having dance lessons too. It’s an example of how a cultural event can bring the whole family together. So yes, job done, we achieved what we set out to do.
My favourite retailer this week has to be White Stuff for its rather brave and sweet National Wear a Tea Cosy on your Head Day, which is running this month and culminating on 29th September. This is quite a neat little marketing idea and an altruistic one too as the store is challenging the public to don a tea cosy or even host a tea party to raise money for a local charity.
It was the gorgeous tea cosies displayed in the window that first caught my eye (I am a bit of a teapot freak) and then I picked up a flyer instore. The retailer is offering 10% to anyone wearing a tea cosy on the day and will also donate 10% of the day’s sales to charity.
I like this. The quirky and kitsch theme of the campaign is on-brand for White Stuff and will appeal to both its young and young at heart customers. And it’s also a good opportunity to flog a few woolly tea cosy-style hats, which are on sale in store too!
I hope it gains the enthusiastic response it deserves and raises a few bob for a good cause.
I love the art of window dressing. A really good shop window can literally stop you in its tracks and make you go inside and buy something. Selling tools don’t get much more powerful than that. Visual merchandising is still one of the most important and exciting aspects of shopping and yet so often it’s viewed by retailers large and small as an unecessary expense and something of an outmoded art form.
During a recent trip to Leeds city centre I came across some interesting window display designs. Admittedly most of them are by high end fashion retailers and sadly this is because they are one of the few types of business that seem to a) still see the value of creative and original window display and b) have the budgets to do it properly but I hope these examples can offer a little inspiration to others.
Wayne Hemingway billed Vintage at Goodwood as ‘the festival of our lives’ but did people have the time of their lives whilst there?
Like everything in life, it’s what you make of it. The beauty of this festival is that you could do as much or as little as you liked – and there really was something for everyone. If the forties was your era then you could have taken tea and danced away the three days in the Tanqueray Torch Club or if you prefer the Seventies vibe, you could have camped out in the Soul Casino, with its dodgy working men’s club carpet and bouncy dance floor.
But most people were happy to take a whistle-stop tour of the decades and dip their fashionably shod toes into most things. Where else could you see such wonderfully incongruous sights as bowler-hatted, tweed-clad chaps raving to 80s house music in the Audi Quattro warehouse or an immaculately dressed woman in a tea dress, nylons and hat, skating at the Roller Disco?
Boredom was not an option. Even if you’d had enough of shopping the myriad vintage clothes sellers or drinking Pimms on an old fashioned double-decker bus, impromptu entertainment came in the form of a barber shop quartet or a bevy of beauties parading in their bathing costumes.
Where else could you get your hair styled with Victory Rolls and lips painted pillar-box red, learn how to knit or dance the jitterbug, play musical bingo at The Festival of Britain pub, judge the competition at the Bad Art salon or the Chap Olympiad and indulge in some good old fashioned, white knuckle ride style entertainment, watching the dare-devil riders at the Wall of Death?