Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published January 19th 2017
Long Weekend Ideas In The Countryside Near London
Entering into the realms of grand Hintlesham Hall is like stepping back in time to the glory of the Jacobean period.
The drive up to Hintlesham Hall brings the impressive building into view
It's perfect for a romantic weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of London as this country house hotel is deep in the heart of Sussex. Only around 90 minutes drive from north and eastern parts of London
From the moment I looked up the long sweeping drive, Hintlesham Hall had me. This decadent, historic mansion will put you under a spell with its grand façade, extravagant chimney stacks, priest holes, roaring fireplaces and wooden four poster beds. Then there is the fine dining dinners, afternoon tea and an outhouse converted into a luxurious spa and health club.
Based in the tiny village of Hintlesham, just 10 minutes drive from Ipswich, the hall has a varied history. The stunning grade one listed building dates back to the 1400s attracts weddings for its backdrop but also couples seeking a romantic mini break alone.
One of the first TV chefs, Robert Carrier, bought the Hall in 1972 for a steal at £32,000 when it was a derelict ruin. Carrier renovated the old oak interior to run as a cookery school, restaurant as well as house his television studio kitchen, which was later turned into the Cherry Orchard Suite.
Lavish settings for dining at Hintlesham
Among the 32 rooms, there are five different categories from a Classic Double to the very large and lavish Principal Suites, some even come complete with their own priest hole, if you can find it.
But whatever the room, it's refreshing that each and every one has its own individual historic quality with bespoke charm and is also classic but with modern touches. Then there are the glorious grounds around the building to wander and enjoy as part of the stay too.
Fine dining at Hintlesham Hall
Hotelier Ludlow bought the Hall in 2003 and set out refurbishing the dining rooms and reception back to their former glory with the Grand Salon's eye-catching chandelier and gold leaf touches making diners look up while dining. It's one of the grandest rooms I have ever had breakfast in. There have been various refurbishments to refresh the rooms and this shows with fresh, elegant decor throughout.
Dining is a big deal at Hintlesham and at £46 a head for a three-course meal from the a la carte menu, there's dishes like a double baked goat's cheese and rocket soufflé with herb infusion; roast breast of guinea fowl, mushroom stuffed thigh, wild mushrooms and Madeira reduction; or poached fillet of halibut with mussels, radish, fennel and lime leaf essence. The dishes are under the stewardship of Head Chef Alan Ford.
Afternoon tea is a popular treat that can be eaten within the decadent rooms or outside. For £18 per person, it includes a selection of finger sandwiches, homemade fruit scones with clotted cream and preserves, a variety of homemade cakes and a choice of tea, tisanes, coffee and luxury hot chocolates. If you opt for the alcohol version with three tasting glasses of champagne, the price rises to £36 per person.
Hintlesham Hall Hotel has various offers depending on the season, starting from as low as £95 midweek for a double room or £340 for a principal suite on a room only basis. There are also bed, breakfast and dinner offers.