In the midst of the rolling Staffordshire countryside sits Hoar Cross Hall, a grand Jacobean-style mansion. Surrounded by tall trees and rich with history, it’s the perfect place to retreat to. So, I did.
I stayed in the Royal Suite. Upstairs, looking out into the treetops, listening to the birdsong on the breeze. A real treat, total delight. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study, two sitting areas, a bar, dining area, a treatment room, shower room… oh, and three roof terraces, one with a hot tub. It’s a wonder I didn’t just move in permanently really (I was tempted to become a stowaway and live in the walk-in-wardrobe!)
In the morning, after a peaceful nights sleep, I opened the doors onto the private terrace, walked barefoot on the cool stone floor and just enjoyed being alive.
The public areas of the hotel are a series of beautiful rooms with some charming original details, and although it’s a big place, there’s a real sense of homeliness and comfort.
In the ballroom, above the wooden panelling and reaching all the way up to the high ceilings you’ll find original William Morris wallpaper, 150 ish years old and absolutely magnificent. Apparently it’s flocked, but I didn’t get to do the touch test – my arms weren’t long enough to reach it, and no one would lend me a stepladder.
Through the long gallery, past the grand staircase, and towards the end of the house, is the Chapel. With its beautiful gothic style, stained glass and gilded alter, it has what’s known as ‘linenfold’ panelling – carved to look like the loose flow of fabric.
In the library, where I ate a delicious dinner by the window, surrounded by books and glowing light, looking across to Litchfield as the evening sun moved across the gardens… is a mirror – not just any mirror, this mirror is said to have been the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. You’ll be surprised that I didn’t try to climb through it, but I had just eaten three courses and was cradling a small box of the best focaccia I’ve ever eaten.
Outside, in the 42 acre estate (30 acres of which is given over to mature woodland), there are formal gardens, water features, tennis courts, bicycles to borrow and other beautiful things – such as bee hives, old greenhouses (ready to be restored) and something not so pretty, but equally excellent, the biomass boiler house which will serve the entire complex with locally sourced renewable energy.
I didn’t have time to use the spa, but I did have a quick look and a wander through it, and well… a tear formed in my eye because I realised I was really missing out.
I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s one of the largest spas in Europe but it doesn’t feel impersonal, it’s spacious and calm with space for everyone, and there are things I need to try out (next time!) like the VOYA seaweed bath, salt water pool and, of course, the Snooze Room!
Hoar Cross Hall, so nice that I went for a meeting and ended up staying the night.
If you’d like to keep up with what I’m up to work-wise (talks, events, exhibitions, that kind of stuff), you can find my Agenda on my website. And, if you’d like occasional updates about all sorts of other nice things, in your inbox, you can join my mailing list here.