Words by Isabelle Hopewell.
Sometimes - especially towards the end of winter - you crave a country hotel getaway. And should the urge strike, an English abode I thoroughly recommend is Hampton Manor, a stunning, relaxed hideaway a short jaunt from Birmingham.
The grounds, all 45 acres of them, were once owned by Sir Robert Peel, with the property’s construction completed by his son. And there are subtle nods to Peel’s industrial past - stone lions holding cotton shuttles and the family shield - but a floral motif also dominates, with thistles, sunflowers and bees adorning the manor’s interior. The wooden panelling, dramatic staircase and stone work are all original, yet the William Morris wallpaper is a fresh addition, with each room, all subtly unique, boasting its own pattern. As a result, the spaces are immediately your own; quirky, elegant and historic all in one. Fans of the designer will also delight in knowing that the bar’s utterly moorish cocktails are inspired by Morris and his travels.
Design wise, it is Peel’s Restaurant that steals the show. Here the fireplace is a statement wonder; built in India, it is all ornate wood carvings and Moroccan tiles. Yet it’s the wallpaper I cannot tear my eyes from. It is hand painted - a pastel-hued collage of birds and bamboo. Entirely original, I am obsessed, the only thing that can tear me away is the meal before me!
Our dinner had begun in the mirrored-and-gilt-adorned Parlour - a lavish space that puts you immediately at ease, especially when cocktails are added to the equation. From here you progress to Peel’s (where breakfast is also served) or to the imitate Tasting Room, where the chef’s table is set up overlooking the open kitchen, the fireplace behind you decorated with pomegranates, the wallpaper nautical. This moveable feast made the meal feel like a dynamic experience, a journey through the hotel’s wondrous spaces.
Chef Rob Palmer won a Michelin star for the restaurant in October 2016 and aspires from more -understandably the meal is blissful and inspired by the seasons. There was potato and thyme mousse finished with puffed potatoes (the ultimate end of winter comfort food), and wagyu beef dripping rather than butter to accompany the bread. Roast celeriac with black truffle sauce, impossibly light smoked eel and cider-hued white wine from Georgia - the world’s oldest wine producing region - also featured. The wine list focuses on organic and small producers keen to showcase what the grape can do. Ending with a platter of cheese, I could do nothing but smile. I was happy, sated and completely enamoured.
Wandering the wintery grounds the next morning I was swept up in the romance of it all; the surrounding fields, a swathe of soft green, dotted with unhurried sheep, bare trees and seating nooks. The frost had settled and it seemed like a setting out of its time - although I’m told things are at their most spectacular in October and November when the land turns red. It's while wandering that you’re offered the best view of the historic clock tower, decorated with the signs of the zodiac. I could so easily while away a day here. Wandering, thinking, planning my next meal.
Marrying the historic with the luxurious, Hampton Manor is part gallery, part museum and entirely homely - a place to venture when you seek escape, the deepest of sleeps and a meal to remember.
To learn more or book a room click here (and enjoy).