Review: Rural Staycation at Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa
Beachside resorts and prepossessing sea views are lovely, but a countryside stay can bring just as much joy; think English gardens, gorgeous country vistas, rich histories and delicious farm-to-fork dishes. Daniella Saunders takes to Northamptonshire’s Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa for the ultimate rural staycation.
Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa Review
Just an hour and 45 minutes away from central London, in the picturesque Northamptonshire hamlet of Fawsley, lies Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa. A former Royal Manor dating back to the 7th century, visited by monarchs such as Queen Elizabeth I and Charles I, the impressive establishment boasts a fascinating history – though you won’t find any ghosts roaming the halls. The hotel does, however, exude old-world opulence, with royal portraits and antiquated, Medieval-esque interiors, particularly of notice in The Tudor Great Hall, built in 1537 – the ideal spot for afternoon tea.
The spacious hotel bedrooms are just as impressive, located across the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian wings, but featuring more contemporary and stylish furnishings, plus a luxuriously comfortable bed fit for a King. Rest up like royalty in the Queen Elizabeth master suite, where the Tudor monarch herself once stayed.
You can also rest assured that Fawsley Hall has put the health of its guests at the forefront. A number of non-intrusive social distancing measures have been temporarily put in place, from the implementation of a one-way system around the hotel, several sanitiser stations, allocated times for breakfast and dinner – with tables situated at a reasonable distance from one another – and protective equipment for all staff.
As if Fawsley’s historic interiors weren’t enough to delve into, the hotel lies at the centre of an impressive 2000 acres of parkland. Designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s and 70s, the grounds comprise of three prepossessing lakes, ancient trees, and verdant fields occupied by flocks of sheep. In the distance you’ll find a spectacular Grade I listed parish church built in the 13th century, whilst the formal gardens are filled with vibrant florals, uniformed hedges, stone ornaments and an array of fragrant plants and herbs, in which you might find a hotel chef scouring for fresh ingredients.
Located within the hall’s former lodge, the hotel spa is the ideal place to put your feet up, be that with an ELEMIS treatment or a dip in the outdoor hydrotherapy pool. There’s a gym for those who wish to work up an appetite (you’ll need to), and an extensive and tranquil indoor pool looking out to the ‘secret garden’. In light of social distancing, the sauna and steam rooms currently remain closed, whilst guests are given an allotted time to make use of the pool facilities.
In keeping with the hotel’s grandeur, the 2 AA Rosette Cedar Restaurant certainly doesn’t disappoint. Established within the oldest part of the house, the Tudor south wing, the informal and low-lit restaurant evokes that of the era it was built, comprising traditional tapestries, candelabras and a striking stone fireplace.
Indulge in a range of delicious seasonal dishes produced with locally-sourced ingredients, from Hertfordshire beef sirloin to battered cod & chips, with vegetarian options spanning a creamy pea & tarragon soup and mouth-watering wild mushroom mac & cheese. If you have room (or a second stomach), the lemon posset paired with strawberry compote and black pepper shortbread, the velvety Crème Brûlée or an appetising cheese board can’t go amiss. But if you need an hour or two for your second appetite to kick in, ask one of the amiable servers to pop the desserts up to your room – it doesn’t get much better than a cheese board in bed.
Breakfast is also served in the Cedar Restaurant, from a quintessentially British full English to Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, whilst the intimate Tudor Bar – formerly the resident brew house – makes for the perfect lunch spot. Of course, if the sun is shining, there’s no better place to dine than al fresco in the estate’s reposeful Courtyard.
THE FINAL WORD
Country retreats don’t get much better than that of Fawsley Hall. The historic estate is awe-inspiring alone, but throw in some good food, fantastic service and a sumptuous spa to restore a sense of repose, and you’ve got yourself a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing rural staycation, just a short trip from the bustle of London.
Prices start from £300 per room per night. Visit handpickedhotels.co.uk to book.
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