Situated in the green and pleasant hinterland of the UK's second city, Hampton Manor is a foodie retreat like no other. This Gothic manor house – the former home of 19th-century British Prime Minister Robert Peel, no less – was acquired by Jan and Derrick Hill just over a decade ago. Since then their son James and his wife Fjona have been busy reinventing it as a grand but also rather funky destination for food and rooms that's perfectly in tune with the times and does a pretty good job of luring trendy folk from nearby Birmingham out into the countryside.
Despite the grandeur of the building, with its chinoiserie, stained glass and sweeping main staircase, they've turned it into a homely sort of place, with a newly Michelin-starred restaurant – Peel's – at its heart, and 15 very comfortable bedrooms to retire to at the end of the evening. The emphasis is on confident, nothing-is-too-much-trouble service, and they have recently won Michelin’s 'Welcome and Service' award too. The food is seasonal and organic, partly based on ingredients from the hotel's own kitchen garden, which find their way into simple yet very contemporary dishes served in an intimate restaurant that seats just 28 diners.
As for the rooms, they are all different, but the common denominator is William Morris and the Arts-and-Crafts movement, with bold patterns and colours, well-stacked bookshelves, and a mix of classic and contemporary furniture. All the rooms have air-conditioning, wifi, a fridge and tea- and coffee-making facilities (beans and a grinder for the latter); they range from standard 'Cosy Double' rooms through to 'Feature Rooms' to two junior suites and a master suite. Most have big bathrooms with monsoon showers and robes and toiletries, and it's nice that they all have baths, if not in the bathroom then in the room itself so you can luxuriate while admiring the views over the sumptuous grounds. The large rooms of the ground floor lend themselves well to hotel use, and in addition to the restaurant, there's a 'tasting room' for private dining – the book-lined 'Library'; Fred's Bar, where they serve a simpler bar menu during the day; and the airy and bright 'Parlour', where you can laze about during the day and enjoy a canape or two before dinner in the evening.
On summer evenings you can also relax on the outside terrace and make believe you truly are 'to the manor born', or explore the grounds and the surrounding area using the hotel's own ‘Field Guide’, which details footpaths around the grounds and beyond; the hotel is right in the middle of the pleasant village of Hampton-in-Arden and it's just a short stroll to the village shops and pub. All in all a beautiful – and beautifully run – place for both cosmopolitan Brummies and jaded Londoners to get their feet muddy.
Rates vary but standard double rooms start at around £160 a night, suites from around £280 – breakfast not included.
Open all year.
15 rooms, made up of 12 doubles and 3 suites.
Hampton Manor, Shadowbrook Lane Hampton-in-Arden Solihull Warwickshire B92 0DQ
The hotel is very easy to get to, just a short drive from the M42 motorway and very close to Birmingham's international airport. It's also just a 5–10-minute walk from Hampton-in-Arden train station, which is less than 90 minutes by train from London.
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