‘When you’re bored of London, you’re bored of life’, Samuel Johnson famously said.
To me, London is never boring, but it can sometimes be tiring…and the perfect solution to that is to sloooooow down and have a mini-escape to the country.
I visited Hintlesham Hall – a Grade 1 listed Elizabethan manor house set on 175 acres of Suffolk countryside and it is without doubt one of the most regal properties I’ve stayed in this year. There are 32 bedrooms that are all individually decorated with their own unique names (my room was Cherry Orchard) and a mixture of antique and modern furnishings.
Location: The hotel is in heart of Hintlesham – I had never been there before booking this trip, but it’s a small village in Suffolk that’s a 10 minute taxi ride from Ipswich train station. (Ipswich to London is a 1hr 20 direct train journey so it’s an easy trip – just watch out for rail replacement services that sometimes occur on this route on a Sunday).
Check-in: A perfect check-in procedure – no waiting around, in fact we were the only ones at reception and the porter was waiting with our key to show us to Cherry Orchard (the name of our room).
The room in a nutshell: 2 storey suite decorated in lavender with a galleried bedroom overlooking the lounge.
First impressions: “This room is huge. Where’s the bed?!’ As soon as you walk in, there’s a huge living room area, and even an outdoor terrace with table and chairs. You have to go up a staircase to reach the galleried bedroom. The decoration was regal and inviting and I couldn’t wait to look around..
What I loved: My room was called ‘Cherry Orchard’ and it was a Principal Suite – there are two rooms of this classification on the property. I found the structure of the suite fascinating – it’s rare that I’ve seen such large windows or high ceilings in a hotel room; I wondered if it was a converted barn. I actually found out that our suite had a rather unique claim to fame. It was once used to televise a TV programme called “Carrier & Friends” in the 70s. A famous cookery writer and TV chef called Robert Carrier bought the hall in 1971 and televised programmes filmed in Cherry Orchard.
When updating the property – the owners have made sure to preserve the original structure (e.g. the high beamed ceiling and exposed brickwork) while adding period-style furniture to give it a regal touch. The lavender theme throughout made it a really relaxing place to stay -from the paintings on the wall to the ornamental flower display – the only thing that could have made it better would have been a bowl of real lavender or some lavender toiletries. I loved the sheer amount of space – from the living room area with desk, table, two chairs, a sofa and an armchair, to the private terrace area with table and chairs.
Minibar/In-room drinks facilities: There wasn’t a minibar in the room but there was a cafetierre, a kettle and a selection of coffee, green tea, camomile tea, Earl Grey and breakfast tea. In addition to the sugar and milk, there were 4 mixed biscuits (ginger, chocolate chip and chocolate).
The Bed: The king sized bed came with 4 pillows and 5 decorative cushions. The mattress was a little harder than I’m used to at home (which is personal preference of course) but the thick duvet was of a very high standard and kept me lovely and warm at night. A charming surprise was the complimentary turndown service – there are so many windows in the suite, that while you’re at dinner, the staff enter the room and pull down the blinds and take the decorative cushions off the bed.
The Bathroom: I really liked the bathroom – equipped with a double shower (with rainfall as well as a normal head) and a large bath and customised flannels and toiletries. I was pleased to see the hotel offered spa quality shampoo and conditioner rather than the shortcut of a ‘conditioning shampoo’ (a personal pet hate of mine…)
WiFi: Free WiFi throughout the hotel. I tested it out in the room and it successfully streamed videos and connected quickly.
Restaurant: This hotel serves breakfast with style. There’s a full continental with fresh bread, fruit, cereals and freshly pressed juices (the orange juice was fantastic). Immediately after you’ve sat down, the lovely staff ask for tea/coffee and juice requests and bring over piping hot toast, butter and jam. I started the day with a cooked English breakfast fit for a Queen! It was made to order and consisted of bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, black pudding and mushrooms. The meat was top quality and despite not having it very often, I actually really enjoyed the black pudding. The only thing that could have made it better was baked beans or a hash brown on the menu, but apart from that, top marks and wonderful presentation.
For evening meals - we sampled both the A La Carte and the Table D’Hote menus. We met head chef Alan Ford who’s originality and unique combination of flavours makes every item on the menu sound appealing….and after ordering I realised that was true! The attention to detail is world-class, and every evening begins with a selection of luxurious fish, meat and vegetarian canapés followed by a choice of freshly baked rolls (sundried tomato, rosemary, wholemeal and white).
You can see a video of the food being prepared here:
It’s hard to choose my favourite dishes, but I particularly enjoyed the loin of Venison with burnt pear compote, braised endive, the tender lamb with peppered mash with herb crusted courgette and tomatoes, the Tonka bean parfait and the blackberry and apple crumble pudding. The menu changes regularly and it’s definitely somewhere I’d make the effort to visit for a special trip.
Other Notable Hotel Amenities: There’s a spa in the building next door to the hotel and you can book massages and treatments on request. The hotel is set in a large garden with a pond and beautiful orchards so it’s lovely to be able to have an afternoon stroll around the grounds.
The bar was well-stocked with large armchairs you can just sink into and it even had my favourite gin – Warner Edwards Rhubarb gin – I was seriously impressed! I didn’t get a chance to play board games or have a read in the hotel library but this looked like a really inviting area to relax.
To sum it up: Whether you’re having a digital detox, celebrating a special occasion or planning a romantic weekend away – this hotel is an excellent option. The staff went out of their way to help and it’s a great spot to come to if you just want to stay at the hotel, put your feet up and enjoy the talented chef’s ever-changing menu. I’ve also heard that it does rather fabulous afternoon tea – so perhaps I’ll have to plan a trip back in the future….
You can see my Snapstory with a behind-the-scenes look of the Cherry Orchard suite here:
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Hintlesham Hall but as always, all opinions are my own.
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