Top UK hotels to enjoy the Autumn Sun
by Adrian Mourby (September 2015)
As the seasons change we often cling on to the last of the summer sunshine. Sometimes I think the British are still pagan, fearing that the shortening of the days means the sun will soon disappear never rise again. While some of us book late summer holidays to cram in a final few days on the beach, I’d recommend staying put because the beginning of autumn is when the British Isles look their best with the sun a mellow golden ball near the horizon and long shadows cast across the land. So here are ten hotels that show the British countryside off in all its glory as summer recedes, and leaves on the trees turn brittle and gold. Autumn is a time to celebrate Britain’s rural hotels and enjoy these crisp bright days.
Showing below are all 8 records in "Top UK hotels to enjoy the Autumn Sun"
Abbey Row, Malmesbury
The Old Bell faces south towards the River Avon which means it gets sunshine most of the day. Light floods into the spacious dining room where you can enjoy Old Bell Tapas (a meal in itself) before walking round the abbey and its gardens. Founded in the seventh century, the Abbey of St Peter and St Paul was one of the most important religious buildings in Anglo-Saxon times. King Athelstan was buried here in 941 AD and by the eleventh century the abbey owned the second-largest library in Europe. In the days before Britain had universities, scholars flocked to Malmesbury. The town remains an attractive place to wander although the abbey was reduced to half its original size centuries ago by two thunderstorms. The ivy-clad Old Bell hotel was originally part of the abbey complex and today is a stylish and restful place for the weekend.
Stratford Road, Dedham, Colchester
Maison Talbooth sits on a bluff above the Stour river valley and enjoys the early morning sun that falls on open fields opposite and also some lovely evening sunshine at this time of year. A converted Victorian house in walking distance of lovely Dedham village, the hotel’s views stretch as far as the church of Stratford St Mary, a landscape painted on more than one occasion by John Constable. There are just twelve very spacious bedrooms at Maison Talbooth plus a delightful outdoor swimming pool that is well-protected from any Autumnal winds. Lunch and dinner is taken at Le Talbooth which is a gentle stroll away, although the hotel also runs a shuttle. Once a pair of cottages with their own quayside and lime kiln on the River Stour, Le Talbooth was turned into a first-class restaurant by Gerald Milsom. Its lawns run down to the river and are a lovely place for a pre-prandial drink during the last rays of sunshine.
East Street, Turners Hill
With its luxurious spa pool resembling a sunken Ancient Greek temple you might be tempted to spend all your time indoors at Alexander House, but this rural hotel is also a significant sun trap. Its position, facing south over the Sussex countryside, means that the hotel gets sun most of the day. First thing in the morning it’s bright over the colonnaded main entrance. In the afternoon it shines on to the balconies of the new Cedar Lodge Suites, and it floods the spa garden and wedding gazebo as sunset approaches. Alexander House began life as a Jacobean manor house in 1608 and has been extended cleverly twice, first in the nineteenth century and then in 2006 by the Alexander Hotel Group. But the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who allegedly lived here briefly, would still recognise this rural retreat. He may even have written his poem “Sunset” about Alexander House: There now the sun had sunk, but lines of gold Hung on the ashen clouds, and on the points Of the far level grass and nodding flowers Setting aside the seasons, this is also a good hotel for fine dining. AG’s, under Executive Chef Darrel Wilde, is a 3 AA Rosette Restaurant and the 1608 champagne bar stocks 145 fine wines and 30 hand-picked Champagnes.
The Parade, Mousehole
Watch the sun rise over Cornwall’s lovely Mount Bay from your room in The Old Coastguard, a small fourteen-bedroom inn that Charles Inkin set up after visiting West Penwith in 1988. Charles was the genius behind the Felin Fach Griffin Inn near Hay on Wye. This small hotel is the result of his falling in love with the calm of the Cornish coastline. With Matthew Smith, formerly of Gurnard’s Head, as the Old Coastguard’s new Head Chef, the meals here live up to Charles’ maxim of “simple things done well”. Located on the northern edge of Mousehole, the hotel enjoys views of St Michael’s Mount but guests should also take time to wander round the town itself. The tranquillity of this lovely Cornish fishing port belies the fact that it was completely destroyed in 1595 by a Spanish raiding party during what was known as the Battle of Cornwall.
Earl of Mar Estate, Bishopton, Glasgow
The River Clyde provides great panoramas to the north and east of Mar Hall. Simply by standing in the car park you’ll get a fine uninterrupted view across to the Kirkpatrick Hills. This splendid hotel was originally called Erskine House. It was built between 1828 and 1845 to designs by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the British Museum, but it took the name of the Earl of Mar, hereditary owner of the estate when turned into a hotel during the twentieth century. Today its 240-acre woodland estate is also home to a golf course with equally good views. Glasgow may sound like a chilly place to visit in the autumn, but the air above the Clyde is refreshing and in the evening the Cristal Dining Room - lit by seven 20-foot tall windows – is a great place to warm up. The menu includes seared Loch Fyne scallops, Venison with a heather honey foam and Haggis, neeps and tatties with whisky café au lait.
Hartwell House has a remarkable history. Over the last thousand years it’s been home to - amongst many others - William the Conqueror’s illegitimate son; Wicked King John, Louis XVIII (the exiled French king who was restored after Waterloo), and Gustavus IV of Sweden, another exiled king. It’s not surprising then that the house has wonderful grounds for lapping up the autumn sunshine, a total of 90 acres laid out by Capability Brown in his familiar style of smooth undulating grass, scattered trees and serpentine lakes. This parkland dates from the 1750s when the then owner, Sir William Lee, commissioned that equestrian statue of George III’s son, Frederick Prince of Wales, which stands in the centre of a long line of trees leading up the house. The views north, east and south from Hartwell have that idyllic English sense of the pastoral and are enhanced by a charming collection of eighteenth-century pavilions, temples and towers.
East Chisenbury, Pewsey
Book into the Red Lion in East Chisenbury and you spend the night at the Troutbeck Guesthouse just across the road where four of the five rooms have private decks on to the River Avon. Facing west (an ideal direction for sundowners) the bedrooms at Troutbeck catch the best of the late autumn sunshine. And the rooms themselves are also quite something with Somnus beds, Egyptian cotton linens and Bang & Olufsen TVs. Ask for the Benjamin Suite which has a roll top bath that looks out over the deck and river. As for food the owners - Michelin star holders Guy and Brittany Manning – offer a breakfast of home made bread, freshly churned butter, local yoghurt and honey, sourdough muffins, Bloody Marys, Bucks Fizz - and more. And of course the Red Lion itself is just across the road for lunch and dinner. “If we can make it in house, we do,” says Guy. “From the lime cordial to the ketchup. And if we can produce it, we do so too - from our rescue hens' eggs, to pork from our West Berkshire piggies.” The Red Lion is a fun place to stay at any time but radiant in autumn.
Trip Lane, Linton, Wetherby
There’s an irony about the lovely Autumnal views you get from the front of Wood Hall down to the woods below. It’s actually thanks to Oliver Cromwell’s troops that the hall is up here because during the English Civil War they destroyed the original manor house which stood down below on the banks of the River Wharfe. So complete was the destruction in fact that all the stonework was thrown into the river and the original carved coat of arms of the de Wodenhalle family was only fished out this century.(It can now be seen in the hotel entrance). Fast forward a hundred years and in 1750 a new Wood Hall was being designed for the wealthy Scott family whose architect, John Carr of Yorkshire, was keen that their new neoclassical building should be up here on the heights overlooking the Wharfe Valley. Completed around 1790, Wood Hall has been a place of peace and relaxation ever since. The presence of a Carmelite monastery in the grounds only adds to the tranquillity.
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