Hampton Manor is a family run passion-driven hotel situated in the heart of England. This historic Manor built in 1855 is set in a 45-acre estate in the West midlands and recently launched as a design-centered restaurant with rooms.
The former estate of Sir Robert Peel, Hampton Manor launched in 2010 and celebrates the best in British craftsmanship while paying homage to the building’s 19th century history and has since won a pride of awards.
Arriving on a train from London to Hampton in Arden, I made my way on foot to the hotel. As soon as I stepped into the grand foyer, I instantly felt at home, almost as if I was stepping into my own manor, a feeling that the team hope to inspire via marriage of a homegrown ethos and the spirit of family and community.
Hampton Manor is a perfectly welcoming hotel, boasting a team of staff who are friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. After check-in I was shown to a comfortable space in the foyer while I waited for a cool drink. Built in the time of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, great attention, creativity and care has been poured into the design of the hotel. There is a serene creative ambience and a nod to Mid-Century Modern design.
The Rooms at Hampton Manor
Steeped in history, the team has looked to the Manor’s past to design the 15 Arts and Crafts inspired bedrooms named after someone who once owned the estate, from queens to musicians including Robert Peel, Ardene and Lord Mowbray. The rooms have been individually designed to reflect the hotel’s ongoing love affair with Morris and his nature-inspired patterns, brought to life in Morris & Co. wallpapers and fabrics. Innovative touches such as ladder bookshelves, commissioned furnishings and accessories from handpicked artists and makers, provide a unique identity for each room. The feature rooms all have big baths and separate showers.
Upon entering my room, George Fentham, I was greeted with a sumptuous lounge space and large bay window that overlooked the gardens, a huge bed to sink into and a large airy bathroom - perfect for endless hours of pampering. The extra touches in the bedroom were very welcoming, from the warm homemade cookies, fresh Has Bean coffee to grind and 100 Acres Apothecary toiletries, sourced locally.
Dine in Michelin-starred Peel’s
Peel's Restaurant won its first Michelin Star in October 2016 and it has also received its fourth AA-Rosette under current Head Chef Rob Palmer who sources the best seasonal, British produce and cooks it using modern techniques, putting the Manor on the map of Britain’s leading culinary hotels.
The collective feeling of the Manor is realised in the restaurant; at its centre a new oak dining table by revered local carpenter William Self, surrounded by dining tables, allowing parties to share a space yet maintain privacy in this comfortable wood panelled dining room.
Dinner begins with pre-dinner drinks served by the Makers Table or outside overlooking the hotel’s grounds. Both spaces are warmly informal and invite you to meet fellow diners or interact with the team and find out about the locally sourced sprits and wines.
Peel’s offers four or seven course tasting menus with each dish focused on just three main ingredients, giving them an honest simplicity. After an aperitif in the garden, I took my place in the comfortable dining room and enjoyed the seven course-tasting menu, each paired with a wine flight. The most memorable being the Duck Liver with Blackcurrant and Brioche, served with a Ramoro, Pinot Grigio Italy, an orange wine that ignited the flavours of the fruit and blurs the boundary between white and red, a truly adventurous taste. While the Smoked Eel with Kohlrabi and Samphire deals a fresh smokiness, perfectly teamed with the Kisi Amber, Pheasants Tears, Georgia - a smokey, mineral wine from Georgia that perfectly marries the smokiness of the course. A pairing that may just bring tears of joy for some. Two delectable sweet dishes rounded up the seven courses. I enjoyed the Raspberry with Skyr and Elderflower teamed with Antica Formula, Carpano - sweet vermouth and the Chocolate with Sherry and Vanilla teamed with Banyuls, France. An exceptional dining experience sealed by the knowledgeable and agreeable team and the head sommelier.
Guests looking for an extra special stay can experience The Tasting Room - the most sought after house in the table where in the comfort of a private dining room guests can be at the heart of the action while they watch the chefs at work.
The hotel also serves a fresh continental breakfast with warm dishes to order on request. I was shown to a seat in the gorgeous wooded panel dining room and tucked into a selection of cold fruits, yoghurt and ordered the classic cooked salmon and Eggs Benedict.
The wine and cocktails
The wine and Champagne list boasts natural, organic, and biodynamic wines and 25 Champagnes, 15 of those vintage, carefully selected by our Sommelier and Wine Director. Most of the wines on offer are made by small independent winemakers of England and Wales who know that healthy grapes make delicious wine.
The creative drinks team led by Luik have created a fresh and fun cocktail menu that contextualises the Manor and its love affair with William Morris. It’s not a secret, it is painted all over the walls, while the cocktail list celebrates his life’s poems and prints through the complete art of cocktail making. Dabble in a pre-dinner cocktail The Red House a marital mix of rhubarb gin ginger hibiscus and lime or the Icelandic Saga - a smokey concoction of Icelandic vodka, Reyna, smoke, or great, herbs from the garden and saffron.
Afternoon tea for foodies
The Manor offers afternoon tea but not as you know it - it's an afternoon tea fit for foodies. Hosted in the Parlour, Head Chef Rob has imagined his tasting menus for the afternoon; ‘Crab, XO Sauce’ and ‘Middle Pork, Black Pudding’ make way for ‘Chocolate, Sherry’ and ‘Parsnip, Whisky Raisin, Arlette’.
Hampton Manor invites guests to unwind with a selection of aromatherapy massages, facials and reflexology treatments at the Pamper Rooms, perfectly situated a short walk from the hotel and nestled in woodland.
Explore the estate
Wander Down to the Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden. First completed in 1891, this charming plot will soon become home to Peel’s Restaurant’s seasonal friends: beetroot, carrot, asparagus and tomato. Herbs are developed to garnish Loic’s cocktail creations, and hives erected to house the Manor’s honey bees. If it’s a little windy and wet outdoors, the hotel provides wellington boots & umbrellas.
Hampton Manor invites you to ‘share, taste and storytell’ , of which you will be sure to do at this fabulous hotel.
Rooms priced from £150 per night / £180 with breakfast. Tasting menus are priced as 4 courses (£75) and 7 courses (£95) available with wine flights also available at respectively £55 and £75 (Tuesday to Saturday 6:30pm - 9pm).
Hampton Manor is easy to reach from London. London Midland trains serve Hampton-in-Arden in 2 hours and then it is a 10-minute walk from the station. From Birmingham it is a 12-minute train journey.
A summary of our stay at Hampton Manor
Set within 14 acres of spectacular scenery, you’ll find Linthwaite House, a 30-room boutique hotel that’s one of the most luxurious hotels in the Lake District. Here guests are offered jaw-dropping views year-round – whatever the weather.
Linthwaite House is the latest addition to the portfolio of Leeu Collection, a collection of exquisite hotels around the world, that were the vision of founder and entrepreneur Analjit Singh. We were lucky enough to have recently visited Leeu Estates in Franschoek, South Africa, so we couldn’t wait to stay at Linthwaite House, knowing that we were going to be in for a treat if the properties we visited in South Africa were anything to go by.
The first thing you notice upon arrival at Linthwaite House is the picturesque setting with its cracking mountain views. The hotel is surrounded by nature at every corner, giving guests the impression that they are the only people lucky enough to enjoy this remarkably beautiful area.
The grounds are gorgeous, so it’s worth taking a stroll around the property to see the boating lake with its cute, country chic summer house or to simply watch the local sheep grazing in the adjacent field.
The tranquil boating lake and the summer house
Within the hotel, there are several communal areas for guests to enjoy including two lounges (each with a fire) and a beautiful, glass conservatory that overlooks the lake. On a warm sunny day, there’s no better place than the outdoor terrace with its views of the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
The décor boasts vintage touches throughout with weathered leather trunks stacked atop one another and a variety of bric-a-brac adorning the walls.
Quirky touches and vintage decor
The manager informed us that the hotel is going to be refurbished soon (from June - October 2017), so it will be interesting to see what new changes will be revealed when the hotel is reopened in all its glory. There is talk of guest rooms on stilts with private hot tubs on the boating lake, which would have us rushing back in no time!
Our Room – Room 7
We stayed in a junior suite, which consisted of a separate lounge area with a sofa and TV and a large bed. The décor was neutral throughout with pops of purple (via throw pillows and curtains), to add a sense of luxury. Best of all, there were large picture windows, which provided fabulous views of the croquet lawn.
We loved that there were lots of lovely little touches throughout including complimentary Kendal Mint Cakes (a renowned local treat), Molton Brown toiletries and a Nespresso coffee machine that George Clooney would approve of. Sadly, he wasn’t there to join us for a coffee!
There is an on-site restaurant and a private dining room, for those wanting to host private functions.
Breakfast at Linthwaite House
Breakfast is served in the dining room where guests dine at tables covered with white linen table clothes covered with a gingham table cloth, lending a Provencal feel to breakfast proceedings. To start, guests can choose from a selection of cereals, fruits, yogurts and pastries.
Lovely background music plays as guests pour their tea and tuck into their breakfast. Breakfast offerings at Linthwaite House are on the traditional side and include options such as smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, grilled kipper rarebit glazed poached cod, a full English breakfast, French toast, or homemade pancakes with blueberry compote.
Our breakfast at Linthwaite House Hotel
Salmon and scrambled eggs, a home-made rosti with caramelised onions, grilled mushroom and a soft fried egg and assorted buffet options
Dinner at Linthwaite House
Before dinner, guests have the option of enjoying a drink and nibbles in either of the lounges or in the stylish bar with its black and silver colour palette, which had a bit of a 1920s-vibe going on.
After enjoying a glass of wine (my husband) and a non-alcoholic Mojito (me), we headed to the dining room for dinner in the restaurant. Dim lighting and crisp white linen table cloths added a sense of formality to dinner and it was nice to feel like we were going out on a proper date!
For our starter, we enjoyed a cup of mushroom soup and I had the goats cheese mousse, dusted with gingerbread crumbs and served with heritage vegetables, while my husband had the teriyaki salmon. For our mains, my husband had the lamb and I had the pork, which was very interesting as it was served in a variety of ways to keep things interesting. All the dishes were inventive and beautifully presented, so we couldn’t fault a thing.
Throughout our stay, everyone we met was very laidback and quick with a smile and they were more than happy to provide recommendations for things to see and do in the local area.
Exploring further afield
No trip to the area is complete without a boat tour on Lake Windermere. The local tour provider, Windermere Lake Cruises, offers three tours for visitors to choose from (Red, Yellow or Blue routes), which can take you to either Lakeside or The Islands or a combination of the two (from £11 per person).
The tours get very busy, especially during the summer months, so ensure that you arrive in plenty of time before the scheduled departure to ensure a place at the front of the queue. If sharing a boat with strangers isn’t your idea of a nice way to spend an afternoon, you can hire a row boat or a mini speed boat (£25-£50 per hour) to explore the lake at your leisure.
Virgin Trains operates services from London Euston to Windermere. The hotel is only a 10-minute taxi ride away. It’s recommended that you pre-book your taxi in advance to avoid waiting.
Prices from £246 to £322 per person per night – for dinner, bed and breakfast in a junior suite.
Rates vary according to view, size of room and time of year.
To book your stay visit:
Linthwaite House Hotel
Sometimes, living in London, you just need to take time to step back and get out of the city for a night. As much as I love my town, sometimes life gets a bit hectic and an escape to the country is needed. With the last heady days of autumn gone and winter stretched ahead of us, there’s no better time to find yourself a countryside bolt-hole for a weekend away.
A traditional country inn with charm in spades
Pack a bag, hit the road and head south west to the green of Hampshire, where you’ll find the gem that is The Anchor Inn. A proper, traditional country inn (complete with Tudor beams a-plenty - mind your head), this is a cosy weekend getaway personified. Part of The Epicurean Collection, it’s just one of a selection of fine British pubs and inns handpicked by luxury lifestyle magazine, The Epicurean, as representing the best of British food, style and service. Suffice to say if they’re all as good as this one, I think I may be paying the rest of the collection a visit at some point!
With a fully stocked bar of great local ales and a menu resplendent with fresh British ingredients, The Anchor Inn is worth leaving London for. Situated on a country road in the village of Lower Froyle, it’s a 15-minute taxi from Farnham station, for those without wheels. The five bedrooms - all named after literary greats of the past - are filled with antique furnishings, walls covered in fascinating paintings, photographs and bookshelves begging to be delved through.
We arrived on a sunny Friday evening and instantly fell in love with the beautiful Rupert Brooke suite, with its French windows and private balcony overlooking a garden full of very happy looking diners.
The Anchor Inn has won a host of awards, including four stars for accommodation and one Rosette for the restaurant from the AA Guide. It’s easy to see why; the rooms were beautifully cosy and welcoming (the mattress giving me one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time), and little extras like the Bramley toiletries and coffee making machine make it feel more welcoming that your average room.
Activities to enjoy near the Anchor Inn - if you can pry yourself away…
The staff were all wonderfully friendly and accommodating, giving us tips on the best walks in the area and the food spectacular (more on that in a moment…). With regular offers such as ‘Spoil Yourself Sundays’, whereby spending £60 or more on your Sunday dinner equals a room for £40, it’s one to get on your weekend radar, especially as it’s less than an hour and a half from London. The Inn can even help to arrange fishing, shooting and hunting trips for discerning guests that want to really embrace the country way of life, or you can just embrace the fields surrounding the Inn and take off on a long country walk, safe in the knowledge you’ll be working up an appetite for what’s about to be an amazing meal.
The restaurant at The Anchor Inn
Dinner at The Anchor Inn was certainly something special and undoubtedly on a par with many a fine London restaurant I’ve dined in. From the number of guests enjoying a Friday night supper, it was clear to see it’s a popular spot.
The cuisine at The Anchor Inn
The octopus carpaccio with crispy pigs ears, pickled grapes and spiced tomato, an intriguingly delicious combination and a chicken and ham hock terrine was the perfect accompaniment to a freshly-baked bread basket. The lemon and thyme chicken breast and confit leg with chorizo, butterbean and peanut puree and red pepper was, quite simply, melt in the mouth fantastic, while the pork belly opposite me was apparently some of the best my guest had ever tasted. Pudding was something else; who could say no to a flapjack with honeycomb ice cream and salted caramel or a chocolate tart with brown sugar creme fraiche and raspberry sorbet?!
Unwind with a tipple or two
A sofa situated next to the bar was the perfect stop for a post prandial bottle of wine. The inn’s homely vibe just beckons you to settle in for the evening, nestled in a corner under a beam with a bottle of red, listening to the gentle hum of conversation - a far cry from the shouty bustle of a London pub on a Friday night!
Wake up to a hearty spread
Breakfast was a treat to wake up to; a table laid out with ‘help-yourself’ juices, cereal, fruit, yoghurt and pastries and a hearty cooked offering. What better way to start a Saturday that eating on a sun-soaked terrace with the weekend papers, a fresh pot of coffee and a breakfast fit for kings?
Alas, while I could have happily lounged in the garden all day, we had a train to catch. Deciding to forgo the taxi back to Farnham, we instead decided to walk off our indulgent feast by heading to Bentley, the next village, to catch our train back to London, which was around an hour’s walk but on a glorious sunny morning, an entirely pleasant one. This charming corner of England is certainly a beautiful one and The Anchor Inn is a gem of a getaway; once the seasons change and the fires are lit, you won’t be able to tear yourself away.
Doubles from £99 per night.
I arrived in Sherborne late on Friday evening after a long, post-work train journey. Eager to head straight to my wellness retreat at Middle Piccadilly, I was disappointed to learn that I’d have to wait 30 mins for a local taxi – Beaver Taxis, to be exact, to fetch me. Yes Beaver Taxis actually exists and yes, you really do have to wait ages for a taxi in this part of the country - the first indication that I was definitely not in London anymore and I’d have to learn a bit of patience – no easy feat when one’s accustomed to permanently rushing about like a headless chicken!
Once settled in the taxi, I was able to take in the peaceful surroundings – all rolling hills and quiet country lanes, but just when I was starting to get comfortable, the taxi driver slammed on his brakes to avoid a large tractor that was also vying for the small sliver of country lane. Who says country life isn’t exciting?!
After we’d arrived at my final destination of Middle Piccadilly I was slightly frazzled, but pleased to see the quaint, thatched roof cottage where I’d be staying -just the tonic I needed after a hectic, deadline-filled week in London.
Upon my arrival, I was warmly greeted by the owner, Dominic, who quickly showed me around the property which consisted of two communal lounges, a communal kitchen, a shared bathroom and multiple treatment rooms.
If you’re the type that doesn’t like sharing your facilities or mingling with your fellow lodgers, then this probably isn’t the place for you, but if you enjoy meeting new people and relaxing, then it would be right up your alley!
Time to unwind....
Middle Piccadilly's aim is to offer its guests an informal and peaceful atmosphere and a unique range of treatments to help people address whatever their ailment is - be it physical or spiritual.
The copies of Kindred Spirit magazine that can be found in the communal lounge allude to the spiritual nature of the retreat and the mindset of Middle Piccadilly's founders - originally Dominic's parents, who've since passed the baton to him to oversee the running of the business.
Seek solace in simplicity....
My lodging for the weekend consisted of a small room with a twin bed, a small writing desk and a wash basin. My immediate thought was that it felt a bit like being back in college in my dorm room or in a private hospital room. Luckily, I wasn’t having to face the unpleasantness of studying or an operation, but rather a weekend of relaxation - the truest indulgence once can have these days.
With so much peace to be had, I thought 'this must be how monks feel when left with no distractions and only their thoughts for company'...
Perhaps my time here would unleash untapped creative genius? If nothing else, I simply hoped to catch up on some much-needed sleep, although my husband would probably argue that I sleep more than anyone he knows. I reckon I must have been a cat in a previous life! That being said, I found good company in the resident cat who was just as lazy!
A place to unplug and unwind…
It’s a bit weird what happens to one when they being to unwind after being continually connected and accustomed to a more frantic pace of life. For the first hour or so, I felt the need to fill my time with distractions. I felt relieved that I had plenty of writing to do as I felt it was a way to keep my mind active given that I wouldn’t be watching TV or catching up with friends.
As I perused the treatment menu, many of the items such as shamanic healing seemed a bit ‘hippy dippy’, but I decided that I was going to quiet my inner cynic and embrace all of the experiences on offer. After all, the greatest transformations often happen when one learns to let go.
My fellow retreat goers
During the time of my stay, four other women (all of whom were lovely), were also staying at the retreat. After several communal meals (and lots of laughter), I later learned that one lady was a socially worker for the mentally ill, another had escaped a religious cult and the other two were disgruntled flight attendants. Throw in the mix a frazzled PR / writer (e.g. me) and I guess you could say we were a real motley crew! The common thread that united us all was that we made a conscious effort to retreat to the country to seek a bit of solace – an act that feels really indulgent in a society where people feel guilty for taking time out.
Food and drink
Dominic is a dab hand in the kitchen and whips up fresh lunch and dinner for the guests during their stay. Meal times are set (7am-9:30am for breakfast, 1pm for lunch and 7:30pm for dinner), which I'd imagine has been done as it's just Dominic who does the prep, cooking and clean up, so he'd be pretty knackered if he was catering to everyone's individual schedules! Dishes on offer include a raw food option or a vegetarian meal, either of which you can't go wrong with.
Eat simply. Eat healthily.
The treatments are what people really come here for and they didn’t disappoint. My first treatment was the Therapeutic Massage, a traditional full-body massage that made me feel exceptionally relaxed. The therapist was lovely and really put me at ease.
For my second treatment, I was booked in for the Shamanic Healing, which is meant to clear bad energies. As I heard the sound of the drums in the treatment room (a practice done to ‘clear the craggy spirits’, apparently), I felt a bit apprehensive about the experience I was about to have.
Before the treatment, I had asked my fellow retreat goers if they could describe their experience, and they all said that it was an individual experience, with each person’s experience being as unique as the individual, so it couldn’t be easily conveyed. Some people scream, some people cry and others just feel relaxed – it just depends on what happens on the day.
My experience of the Shamanic Healing
Upon entering the treatment room, I was warmly greeted by Sandy, a former midwife who had spent more than 20 years working for the NHS before training as a shamanic healer. Before we started, she talked through her tools of the trade, which included a drum (to help generate energy), a rattle, (a peacock feather to brush away negative energy – no eagle feathers to come by in these parts), pebbles, crystals, sage (which was burning throughout the treatment and smells a bit like a campfire). For the less hippy inclined, it seems a bit hokey pokey, but I decided I’d go with the flow.
I started the process lying on a massage table, while Sandy held her hands over different areas of my body. She also placed her hands over different chakras and then placed her hands on my lower back and held them there, which she said was referred to as ‘bringing the jaguar down from the trees’. Next, she started banging her drum repeatedly and asked me to step back through time, recalling memories from different ages in my childhood. She assured me that I could relax as I had a spiritual guide next to me who would ensure that I was safe.
She asked me to visualise what my spiritual guide looked like and I had visualised an older man with a wide smile and longish grey hair, who was wearing a white linen shirt and trousers. In hindsight, he looked a bit like Richard Branson – weird!
Finally, she asked me to do ‘dragon breathing’ (a succession of quick, forceful breathing) to get rid of any negative energy. Once she was happy that the negative energy had been cleared, she blew air over my stomach to ‘fill it with positive purple light’. After the treatment, I oddly felt a bit emotional and tearful, as the whole process was quite intense. It was definitely one to chalk up as an experience!
After my weekend at Middle Piccadilly, I felt unique combination of being both relaxed and highly introspective, which I believe can only be a good thing.
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