It was Robert Louis Stevenson that said, “…for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive…” Writing in 1881 he had not experienced the M42, or Hampton Manor, and it was after a short drive from that delightful motorway we arrived. The Grade 2 listed Hampton Manor is in the pretty village of Hampton-in-Arden. The house, built in 1855, and once the estate of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, looked imposing and gave no hint of the delights within.
The Manor’s interior has been cleverly and carefully designed to retain the buildings history, with its details such as oak panelling, stained glass windows and a beautiful central staircase featuring intricate carvings remaining beautifully intact. The lobby positively celebrates the Manor’s history but combines this with contemporary furniture and an impressive chandelier.
The whole feeling is one of comfort and glamour. There is a huge emphasis here on inclusivity and that comes across in the warm welcome and the friendly but unobtrusive staff. This is a family venture. Hampton Manor is owned by the Hill family, and everyone is involved, each with a different, defined role. It’s a family affair and that comes though to the guests. For a night (or two) you are part of that family.
They want you to relax, to enjoy. It’s at once luxurious, yet informal. It feels homely in a way that most historic hotels couldn’t manage.You can tell it’s the sort of place where people enjoy their jobs. The smiles are real, the staff have time for you. There is a friendly buzz as you wander around that immediately puts you at ease. Many senior staff here have worked their way up through the ranks. They are proud of this place, they like showing it off, and so they should.
After a warm welcome, we were shown to our room, the De Mountford. Each room is named after a former owner of the 45-acre estate. A thoughtful touch.
In fact, our room was full of thoughtful touches. There was a handwritten welcome letter waiting for us, home baked biscuits, fresh coffee to grind, a bluetooth audio system, deliciously scented botanical toiletries and the softest bathrobes.
Overlooking beautifully manicured lawns our room was large and airy. Furnished in rich, sumptuous fabrics, William Morris prints, opulent colours and handmade pieces commissioned from artists and craftspeople to reflect the Manor’s Arts and Crafts heritage. These details are dotted throughout the hotel. The owners’ love of carefully curated bespoke pieces is clear to see.
The room housed an original fireplace, bookshelves filled with interesting looking reading material and comfortable chairs to relax in. The bathroom was large and light with a huge bath, perfect for soaking away the days travel. There was a separate, spacious shower too, in case rainfall showerheads were more your thing. It was very tempting to simply curl up with a drink and a book on the cushion-strewn sofa, but the grounds were waiting to be explored.
We took our thoughtfully provided field guide and headed out to walk the grounds. Strolling past the clock tower we made our way to the impressively restored walled kitchen garden and had a peep at Manor Cottage, hidden away and available to hire for a private, picturesque stay. We made our way back to the hotel through the arboretum, with its eclectic mix of exotic and traditional trees. A delight. If you enjoy a walk whatever the weather, wellies are available to borrow.
We brought our own Mahabis flow slippers. A lightweight, flexible, versatile slipper you’ll be
happy to wear anywhere this summer. With a durable indoor/outdoor sole, these sleek and stylish Scandinavian-inspired slippers have a super-soft, high-tech mesh upper, which circulates air via hundreds of air ducts that mimic skin’s pores to ensure optimum breathability, while helping to keep feet fresh and dry.
Deciding that we had earned a drink, we headed to the cosy Fred’s bar where the charismatic barman mixed us a cocktail from the hotel’s quirky Cluedo themed cocktail menu. We sat on the sunny terrace with our delicious drinks and indulged in some plane spotting. Hampton Manor, whilst feeling rural, is only a ten minute drive from Birmingham International Airport so the planes come past quite regularly but do not tarnish the quiet serenity of the hotel and its grounds.
Now for dinner. The hotel boasts a Michelin star and describes itself as a restaurant with rooms. Food is at the heart of what they do and, oh my goodness, they do it well. We had booked the four-course tasting menu with wine flight and it did not disappoint. We started with delicious canapés in the parlour, enjoyed with a view of the well tended gardens.
Each course was a contemporary take on a traditional recipe with bold flavours and exquisite, but understated, presentation. The dishes were delivered with an explanation from knowledgeable waiting staff. Each dish was well thought out and complemented the last. Head chef Rob Palmer has created a menu using as many locally sourced and indeed homegrown products as possible. All the dishes packed a punch and were incredibly satisfying. There were many highlights but the dishes we are still talking about days later were the tomato and sardines complemented by an incredibly light burrata and an impossibly rich wagyu beef mousse. Just stunning. Each course was accompanied by a wine chosen to compliment that dish perfectly – and it did.
It’s very important to mention how friendly the staff were. Patient with our many questions and with an obvious passion for the food and wine they were presenting. The service was impeccable. We retired to our room feeling satisfied and enjoyed a perfect night’s sleep in the softest sheets.
Breakfast the following morning consisted of continental or cooked options. There was plenty of fresh fruit, yoghurts, juices and delicious home baked bread. Between us we managed a full English and an eggs benedict. Both were made with fresh, tasty ingredients. A good start to the day.
Having lingered too long over breakfast, we sadly did not have time to sample any treatments in the hotel’s treatment room but that, and the fact that we also missed the creative Afternoon Tea in the parlour (see below), gives us the perfect excuse to return.
Hampton Manor is always evolving. There are plans in hand that will expand a guest’s or day visitor’s options even further. It’s exciting and the buzz around what is happening is almost tangible. We simply cannot wait to return to this perfectly placed, luxurious and most unstuffy of places.
To find out more and book, visit: hamptonmanor.com
By Sarah Lloyd-Williams