The Spread Eagle
If the opportunity to stay in the oldest coaching inn in England isn’t reason enough to book The Spread Eagle, there’s plenty more to entice the traveller with dogs in tow. This utterly bewitching hotel was built in 1430 – twenty years before Machu Picchu was founded by the Incas – and it still retains some of its original features, including some astonishingly well-preserved stained-glass windows.
The hotel has had quite the roster of past guests, from Queen Elizabeth I to Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, and the bedroom Her Majesty stayed in is now called the Queen’s Suite and has one of the last remaining wig rooms in the country.
Sitting right in the centre of the Sussex market town of Midhurst, The Spread Eagle is all timber beams on the outside and dark wooden floors and cosy fireplaces inside. And while it’s evidently old and filled with antiques, it’s not stuffy, with 39 guest rooms that have been sensitively and successfully updated; some have four-posters and all have tea- and coffee-making facilities. Bathrooms have been modernized to include large rain showers, roll-top baths and are provided with robes and Temple Spa toiletries.
Among other facilities there’s a wonderful contemporary, Scandi-style spa with a small indoor pool, hot tub, fitness suite and four treatment rooms. The restaurant serves a mean Sunday roast and great a la carte menu during the week – which includes relatively informal lunches and a more formal dinner service. It’s a historic, atmospheric place to eat, with excellent service, but serves food that is very much in tune with the times – as does the equally historic, cosy bar, which has an extensive gin menu but is an equally welcoming place for a post-walk pint.
The great thing about the Spread Eagle is that dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere except the spa and the main restaurant, so you can feel right at home immediately, with hounds encouraged to curl up in front of the fire or join you in the bar or conservatory for dinner. They also have the hotel grounds and immediate area for quick and easy walks, and of course the South Downs are on your doorstep for more strenuous affairs. Opt for their ‘Muddy Paws’ package and you get the full list of their recommended local dog walks, including dawn walks for early risers, dusk walks in the evening and well-planned routes through the best of the South Downs National Park which could wear out the most energetic four-legged friend. And if Fido ends up rolling in something unpleasant, they can even organise sprucing sessions with a fully qualified local dog groomer. Dog heaven, with plenty for well-behaved humans too!
PriceDouble rooms cost from £159 a night, dogs £15, two dogs per room.
Opening TimesOpen all year.
The Spread Eagle, South St, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9NH
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