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Ever fancied being Lord of the manor? By that I mean really enjoying life in your country pile with fabulous grounds, staff everywhere you need them and never where you don’t. Great drinks on tap and Michelin starred food served in your own panelled dining room with leaded light mullion windows. Decor with an Arts and Craft lilt and impeccable books and objets d’art carefully curated for your pleasure. It sounds to good to be true doesn’t it? Well it’s not all, you have to do is travel to the centre of England check into Hampton Manor for the weekend. Title guaranteed.
Hampton Manor once owned and lived in by Sir Robert Peel the founder of modern policing and former prime minster is billed as a restaurant with rooms. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a wonderfully spacious Tudor Gothic house with 15 bedrooms and suites. Each room has been thought through and decorated exquisitely. Art is abundant in this 1855 building that predates the Arts and Craft movement by 10 years but somehow embodies all it represents. William Morris said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. Sound advice I’d say from the father of a movement that is as relevant today as it was then. The house (I’m already calling it a house not a hotel) is just a pleasure to be in. From the moment we arrived and were met by the wonderfully helpful and personable staff especially the front of house lady who couldn’t do enough to make us feel at home to the request for a few glasses of water in the garden (M wanted to spend the afternoon with watercolours) was met with a smile and the question how many would you like?
There’s a cool collection of Modernist furniture dotted around the place that draws you into sitting and passing half an hour reading a big coffee table book (who has time for that at home?) and actually enjoying it. This is a temple of non-guilt time is your own to do with as you please. Time in one’s room is just as rewarding, they have books, sofas, large en-suites and are as large as a two bedroom flat in London.
Food is rather good here. Your experience will start as ours did in the Parlour, a large room with very comfortable furniture. A drinks menu (on trend gin is big here) is proffered and then in waves like a spring tide little bites of this and that arrive. Some perched on shiny stones like the little mermaid in Denmark or a lonesome seal. There is flavour in abundance here, each mouthful offers texture, taste and colour. Sure there is a some modern wizardry going on but fundamentally the food is all about satisfying your taste buds. This is achieved with ease.
After a drink or two we moved into the panelled dining room, a grand affair with a lofty ceiling but tables so far apart it would take more than a stage whisper to be heard by ones neighbours.
Spring tide continues to rise with plate upon plate of delicious food. Smoked eel was outstanding as was the lamb, peas and lovage with malt vinegar. There were a couple of desserts too and don’t worry if all that you desire is vegetables or ‘of the sea’ they can cater for that too.
They pulled off a neat trick, by the end of the meal I was at exactly the right level of full, just Goldilocks. That doesn’t always happen even in very good restaurants. The staff it goes without saying were exceptional at every level in this family fun ‘house’.
Breakfast was no let up on quality or taste. A very good cooked affair or fruit and healthy options were all present and correct. It was a perfect start to the day.
Staying at Hampton Manor should be on every doctor’s prescription list. “Take two nights here with at least one meal in main restaurant and a good walk in the grounds, come and see me in a week”. It’s the sort of place that it’s just nice to be in, not doing anything at all. I wasn’t sick on my trip and I’m certainly not going to wait until I am before I visit again, everyone should have a crack at being a Lord every once in a while even if it’s only for a couple of days.