Natalie French

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From royal boltholes fit for frolicking to ancient spa towns with awe-inspiring architecture, the East Midlands has a little black book of hotels with a rich, full-bodied history. 

This impressive Tudor manor is set in the rolling Northamptonshire countryside and tingles with history. Built as a royal bolthole, you can even stay in the room where Elizabeth I rested her crown-weary head. Afternoon tea in the Tudor Great Hall is a must; Henry VIII entertained here and you can feast under the gaze of his six wives, whose portraits hang from the wood-panelled walls. Sit on comfy sofas beneath the striking ceiling rising 14 metres and admire some of few surviving beams from its construction in 1537. Post-feast, take a stroll in the formal gardens and parklands landscaped by Capability Brown in the 1760s.

Located on the edge of Sherwood Forest – with views over 50-acres of parkland - Thoresby Hall is one of Nottinghamshire’s most important houses. A grand house has stood on the grounds since 1670 – original acquired by the first Earl of Kingston before eventually being passed to the first Earl of Manvers. The most recent structure was designed by architect, Anthony Salvin, in 1864 and served as a training base during the Second World War. The grade I listed house has original features aplenty from the vaulted ceiling in the Great Hall to the historic bedrooms with sumptuous four poster beds for optimal snoozing. 

Located on the outskirts of Lincoln in Washingborough, this good-looking manor house has a rich history. Dating back to 1730, it was home to the Fairfax family before being handed down to a variety of families and parish reverends; one owner of note was MP, Sir William Amcotts-Ingilby, who was from one of the richest families in Lincolnshire. During World War II to the manor welcomed war-weary airmen, before opening up as a nursing home once the war ended. After a brief stint as a nightclub, it became the much-loved country house hotel that it is today. 

This magnificent Grade I listed country house hotel is set in 25-acres of immaculate grounds in Kettering. The fifteenth century building has stunning architecture with grand wooden floors, roaring fires and magnificent décor. Rushton Hall started life as a family home, built by Sir William Tresham, who made his fortune working alongside Henry V - fighting for him at Agincourt in 1415. After Henry’s death, William remained close to the young King Henry VI, remaining in his employment until 1436; his loyalty earned him a knighthood for services to the crown. 

Steeped in history, this 16th century elegant manor house hotel – set in a stunning estate in the chocolate box village of Rothley, just 8 miles north of Leicester. Oak panelling and stained-glass windows come as standard here. The building has deep links to the Knights Templar and also William Wilberforce’s work to end Britain’s part in slavery. History lovers should head straight to the 11th century medieval chapel or take a stroll in the 10-acre private gardens with babbling brook and rose walk. 

Buxton Crescent can be found in the original spa town of Buxton – once a Roman settlement. Designed by architect John Carr for William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, this iconic sweeping arc is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the country. After a multi-million pound, 17-year, restoration project it’s now home to a five-star hotel and spa – which utilises the natural spring water that still lies beneath the building. Expect plenty of Georgian glamour, from the huge stained-glass windows and fluted columns to the sparkling chandeliers. 

For over 500 years, The Three Swans Hotel – formerly known as The Swan Inn – was a hotspot for travellers making their way between London and Leicester, on to Manchester – on one of the great old roads of England. The former 16th century coaching inn was so well-loved in its heyday, that legend has it King Charles visited in 1645, the day before the battle of Naseby in the English Civil War. History buffs will love the ornate wrought-iron sign that hangs above the door.   

At the end of a tree-lined approach, you’ll find a Grade II listed Italianate country house set in 38-acres of landscape South Leicestershire parkland. This former family home – built by the High Sheriff of Leicestershire, John Entwisle - has original features to shout about; the Orangery Restaurant – built in 1880 – is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture having been painstakingly restored to its former glory. Guests can dine beneath a ceiling of glass, timber and ornate wrought iron, whilst overlooking the enchanting garden. 

The Lea Gate Inn dates back to 1542 making it the oldest licensed premises in the county. It's been in the same family for 30 years and is now run by Harry & Laura, the 3rd generation of the Dennison family. We have a fantastic garden with a large terrace which is used throughout the summer months for both dining and drinking. In the winter months, all of our log burners and open fires will be roaring throughout the day to keep you nice and toasty.

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