On the fringes of Hampton Court Palace’s spectacular grounds, The Kings Arms Hampton Court is the epitome of boutique chic. This cosy hotel with 14 beautifully-renovated rooms, not only overlooks the Palace’s maze, but sitting opposite Bushy Park, makes it a dream location for a cosy autumn night away.
Hop on a train at Waterloo and within the hour you’ll be checking in. Having been in existence as a pub, hotel or inn since at least 1709, it’s by far the oldest business in the area. While its interiors have been updated in recent years, it’s lost none of its elegance and charm, even boasting a stunning mosaic-tiled lobby unearthed by the current owners.
This is cosiness personified. Small, but perfectly formed, The King’s Arms feels at once homely and comfortable. The moment you cross the threshold you know you’re going to get a great experience with real English hospitality.
With each room a unique shape and style, you can handpick your ideal bed for the night. The Hampton Suite even offers luxurious living in a family size. Designed for a family of four or five, it features a luxurious master bedroom with a separate room with built-in bunk bed.
Our Luxury Room overlooked the gates of Bushy Park, with cloud-soft carpets, a beautiful fireplace and ultra comfortable bed, decorated in calming, muted tones of purple with some stunning artwork on the walls. Despite being on the main road, the hardcore glazing ensured total silence, and with the addition of blackout curtains, a good night’s sleep was all but guaranteed. The bathroom featured heavenly scented local toiletries from London brand Jenny Betts and with the well-stocked minibar one could be forgiven for indulging in an early night and taking to bed with a movie.
The Food & Drink
On our Friday night visit the bar was buzzing, as was the lounge next door, a cosy space with a roaring log fire in winter. The real star of the show, however, is restaurant The Six. Named after Henry VIII’s wives, The Six prides itself on eclectic cuisine using local ingredients where possible. I indulged in a creamy lightly smoked English burrata, served with baked beetroot, walnut and sage, followed by an absolute divine plate of organic welsh lamb rump, artichoke, sweet onion, lamb croquette and rosemary. The food was sublime, quite one of the best meals I’ve had this year and certainly worth the visit alone, regardless of whether you will stay the night or not. Washed down with an Argentinian Malbec and followed with an absolutely beautiful baked vanilla and hazelnut cheesecake with confit orange and plum sorbet, we rolled up to bed stuffed and sated and thankful for the feast.
After an undisturbed night’s sleep, we rose for breakfast to be greeted by a continental spread of fresh bread and pastries, fruit, cereal, cold meats and cheeses with a cooked menu also available. While we didn’t indulge this time round, after the success of our evening meal I’m certain the breakfast would also have been something special. After a stroll around Bushy Park it was time to check out, our brief sojourn to the suburbs had come to an end.
The King’s Arms was a delight from start to finish. From its buzzing bar and restaurant with inventive twists on classic dishes to the cosy bedrooms, it’s an ideal night away from the bustle or town.
The King's Arms
2 Lion Gate
Hampton Ct Rd
As a time-poor Londoner, I often find myself craving a Friday getaway from the city; a countryside escape to take you from desk to spa with as little effort as possible. Lucky for us, the glorious Grove in Hertfordshire ticks all of those boxes and more.
Set amid 300 acres of Hertfordshire countryside, The Grove hotel is conveniently less than an hour's train ride from London Euston and a 10-minute taxi journey from Watford Junction station. Only an hour after leaving my desk I was flopped on my bed, with the hardest decision ahead of me being whether to hit the spa or the buffet first. Bliss.
The resort features three unique restaurants, an award-winning spa and a championship golf course.
This is country house luxury living at its best. Beautiful rooms, an indulgent spa with outdoor pool, stunning gardens begging to be explored and a host of drawing rooms packed with art, beautiful chandeliers, board games and log fires in the winter, ensure there's plenty to do during your stay.
Rooms range from Deluxe (in either the original Mansion House or contemporary West Wing overlooking the garden), to a vast Presidential suite with its bay-fronted window and marble bathroom. We found ourselves in the former, with its French windows overlooking the formal gardens, and roll top bath surrounded by luxurious ESPA toiletries, which demanded a post-prandial soak.
Food & Drink
Agreeing to leave the spa for the morning, we headed downstairs to The Glasshouse, a lavish dining theatre that will put any buffet you’ve ever visited to shame. The restaurant features eight live food stations with chefs constantly preparing an overwhelming option of delicious, international cuisines. A word to the wise; ensure you do a lap before committing to your dining plan, this much delicious food needs a strategy.
We started at the crustacean station, piling plates high with fresh oysters, juicy prawns and sushi rolls, leaving a little sliver for some of the delicious, crisp, fresh salads. Next up was a custom creation of Asian soup, a hearty bowl of mushrooms, egg, chicken, seaweed and crispy onion in a warming broth. We skipped the roast dinners and pasta station - against my better judgement - and headed to the robata grill to pick up a couple of lobster tails, before hitting the dessert trolley hard…
There is a slight possibility we overindulged at this stage, given I selected a coconut and Malibu sponge, rose lychee mousse, crème brulée and a dish of three flavours of ice cream, drizzled with hot molten chocolate and covered in mini meringues, chocolate balls, crunchy biscotti and nuts like the overexcited five year old I clearly am inside. Nevertheless, glutton or not, it was delicious!
Alas, after such a feast it wasn’t long before we retired. After a much anticipated bubble bath, I crawled into bed in my robe ready for a movie, only to disappointingly find the only options were pay to view. It was disappointing that such a luxury hotel didn’t have any movie options on the TV at all; thankfully I’d brought along my laptop and ergo Netflix, so not all was lost and we eventually drifted into a peaceful slumber to the dulcet tones of Bridget Jones.
Sadly, breakfast wasn’t as successful as dinner, particularly as the receptionist unhelpfully told us the wrong end time, something which also wasn’t noted in any in-room correspondence. As such we were left with 10 minutes to rush around The Glasshouse, grabbing from its array of breakfast spoils, when had we been a tad earlier, we could have enjoyed a leisurely a la carte fare of The Stables.
Given we were the last ones in, we were somewhat left with the dregs; eggs en cocote that had unfortunately solidified in their time under the lamp, the last few pancakes that were more than a tad limp, dishes that were supposed to be hot but were anything but; at least the pastry basket was still going strong. It would have been nice to at least have one chef perhaps still at his station, willing to make something hot and fresh for those guests who may have lost track of time, though I guess lesson learnt to not leave breakfast until the last minute next time…
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny and feeling revived after an early night, it was time to hit the gym and spa. With its black mosaic-tiled pool, heat experience rooms and specialist treatment options, the award winning Sequoia spa is an experience like no other. There’s a state of the art fitness studio, programme of exercise classes, indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, the ideal circuit for a relaxing Saturday morning.
Hotel guests can enjoy use of the facilities included with their room, while there’s a range of day use and treatment packages for those wanting to indulge in a special treat. I adored having the pool to myself at 7.30am, swimming my lengths and getting a steam in before wrapping myself up in a robe and poring over the Saturday papers.
During the warmer months, however, there’s also another special something The Grove has up its sleeve, in the form of its heated outdoor pool. Situated within the Walled garden, a secluded outdoor space, it’s also neighboured by a ‘beach’ complete with deckchairs and volleyball court. The sun blazed on the morning of our visit, and combined with the dazzling warm water it felt like we could have been abroad, not in the middle of Hertfordshire. What a treat.
Breakfast aside, a night at The Grove was the perfect tonic for a busy working week in London; we were both astounded at how close it was. There are also various pop ups and events throughout the year to entertain guests, including a pop up cinema in the summer.
The SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course is a four AA star, 20-bedroom property located in the beautifully scenic Scottish Borders countryside, approximately an hour’s drive from Edinburgh.
I first visited The Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course in Kelso, Scotland around five years ago, when it was still owned by the Duke of Roxburghe. He sold it in 2018 to the German developer 12.18 Investment Management and it reopened this year following a £30m redevelopment, rebranded as SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course.
On our first visit, the historic property was clearly in need of a cash injection and some TLC to bring it kicking and screaming into modern times, and that's certainly what the 12.18 group has achieved. The entire hotel has had a complete refurbishment and the results are pretty impressive.
Activities on offer are reflective of olde world Scottish sports - think shooting, fishing, hunting, and of course, golf.
Each of the 20 rooms falls into five distinct categories: Suite, Duplex Suite, Junior Suite, Deluxe Room, and Superior Room. German interior design firm Kitzig Interior Design developed the design concept, which was inspired by the unique location, the surrounding landscape and nature.
The interiors are a combination of Scottish patterns and colours, with rustic materials such as oak wood, natural stone and linen. Kitzig have successfully managed to balance tradition with contemporary design and have kept many of the original features including the fireplaces (a necessity during the cold Scottish winters) and stucco embellishments on the ceilings and walls.
Food & drink
The hotel is home to a variety of food and drink options including the 1745 Bar, Sunlaws (the fine dining restaurant), the State Room Lounge, and the Drawing Room, which is ideal for a relaxed afternoon tea.
The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Jacques-Olivier Borja, who has been at the hotel since 2016. His speciality is Scottish cuisine with a French twist - a nod to his French roots.
Chef Borja completed a three-year apprenticeship at the Bourgogne, a one star Michelin restaurant in his home town Troyes in Champagne, and he then continued his training in Paris for 18 years. He started as a kitchen assistant, working his way to the position of Executive Sous-Chef in the most renowned two and three Michelin star Restaurants, including Lucas-Carton and the prestigious Hotel de Crillon.
During his military service at 23 years old, he was deployed to serve President Jacques Chirac at de l’Elysée in 1996.
In 2006 he moved from Paris to Mexico City, where he was employed as Executive Sous-Chef for InterContinental Hotels. In 2008, he made the leap across the ocean to settle in the Scottish Borders.
The new culinary team is very international with staff from all corners of the world. They are devoted to sustainability and the environment, with a focus on sourcing sustainably sourced and locally sourced ‘Estate-to-Plate’ food where possible, with the chefs actively foraging the grounds of the estate for as much produce as possible. They then bring it to life with culinary delights inspired by a passion for Scotland’s abundance of fresh produce, meat, fish and game. Additionally, they strive to source produce from in and around the local area, working with local suppliers to support local businesses, whether it be a local supplier of tomatoes, potatoes, meat, fish or jam, making the best use of Scotland's natural produce. The game is sourced from the estate and to take the concept to the next level, the staff can provide guests with the full experience of ‘estate to plate’ where a guest can see the journey from the hunt, through to the kitchen and finally to the table.
Guests have a wealth of activities to choose from including use of a championship golf course and a comprehensive range of sporting pursuits from clay pigeon shooting to tomahawk throwing and fly fishing.
The Local Area
The hotel is located next to the town of Kelso, deep in the heart of the Scottish Borders. The landscape is always stunning come rain, hail or sunshine. If you love nature and wildlife, then this is the place for you.
Travelling further afield
I would recommend travelling to the town of Hawick, which is approximately a half an hour drive from the hotel. Here you will find everything that this region is famous for: cashmere, tweed, and of course, whisky! Hawick has a rich manufacturing heritage and an international reputation for producing quality goods. The main activity takes place within the four bridges of Hawick, where you will find a collection of weavers, knitters and distilleries, all of which produce premium Scottish products. And if you are missing city life, head to Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, which has a fabulous culinary offering, an edgy art scene and culture in abundance.
A summary of our stay at SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course
Here you'll find our favourite accommodations from luxury hotels, to quaint B&Bs to fabulous cruise liners.
From cosy B&Bs to luxurious 5-Star accommodations, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to amazing accommodations.