We’d been waiting for this moment for months; an exciting review at the highly acclaimed Down Hall country hotel in Hertfordshire. Once we had finally dispensed the 3 children to family and willing friends, we tackled the M25 and arrived very ready for our destress.
Arriving at Down Hall we drove the long winding drive way. The first impression is that of the beautiful main house and in my ignorance and given the 30-degree summer heat, it felt more like a continental hotel rather than an English one. This was a great first impression and only added to the feeling that we were truly ‘getting away’.
We were warmly greeted at reception and swiftly taken through the check in process, then directed to our room. We stepped the long wide and very grand main stair case with Avery roof and limestone steps and found ourselves in a large hall central lobby or reading room with classic paintings and supremely comfy sofas, a reading area and somewhere to have a quiet sit down away from the main hotel bustle if inclined to.
Our room was classically grand, very large with a huge bed, and floor to ceiling sliding sash windows. The bathroom was traditional with Neptune fittings and marbled patterned tiling to the walls.
At this point the temptation was to take a siesta, no kids let’s just slow down……, no such luck, the sun was shining which meant we needed to be outside and to find a quiet spot in the extensive gardens and if possible some sun loungers.
Well that was easy, the grounds are huge, all 120 or so acres and we found our sun loungers in a quieter semi shaded corner. This was private and it felt fine to be sitting in shorts and a bikini without feeling exposed, the sound of a wedding party’s music behind us back in the main hotel was actually a welcome addition.
Restless as I am and after a short hot snooze I awoke and decided to use the gym, whilst my wife was happy and not intending to move for a few hours
The gym was larger than most hotels I’ve been to, and very well equipped. It was empty and I was pleased to find 2 large T.V.’s on the wall. So, Argentina vs France was a welcome addition to a very slow-paced but enjoyable work out.
Following the gym, I was back out to the gardens to the wife, who as predicted had not moved. It felt it was time for a refreshing beer!
There’s a beautiful courtyard seating area and outside bar, again which reminded me of the south of France. The attentive bar staff handed me the drinks menu. I ordered a beer and a sparkling water but couldn’t ignore the Gin list. All 36 different types, each with different mixers and additions to suite. This would bode well for later this evening! We discussed the list and wondered how the bar man would ever learn the 36 variety of mixers, he clearly knew his stuff but admitted, to try each would require more than one sitting and perhaps even a week’s stay!
Once sufficiently sunned and perfectly relaxed, we retired to our room for a shower and to get ready for dinner. The shower was powerful and the products were lovely (ESPA), perfect to refresh and reminded me of a stay in Bali, the smell of the spa products setting us up for our very special summer evening meal.
But not before a G & T in the courtyard bar. The Gin didn’t disappoint and was garnished with raspberries, peppercorns and mint. I’m not an expert but as far as Gins go it certainly hit the mark and wife clearly enjoyed it. A perfect pre-dinner drink to work up an appetite.
We’d booked in to the Grill Restaurant, one of two with in the hotel. I ordered the chicken terrine followed by a beautiful rib eye steak. My wife ordered the Sea Bream followed by Sea Bass. To accompany, we ordered a bottle of Australian Shiraz which was great. Feeling full we shared the cheese platter instead of dessert to accompany the last of the wine. The service was excellent and food to match. A huge thanks to the staff that made this meal one we won’t forget in a hurry.
We had a last drink in the courtyard which was a perfect ending to the evening.
Waking up after a blissful night’s sleep in our extremely comfy bed, we made our way to breakfast and enjoyed a full buffet. The selection was extensive, with the full English offered up as a buffet but also with a range of options to have cooked to order.
Breakfast over and we were off to the Spa. Both had booked a full body massage and we were met again with the same smiling service and enthusiastic willingness to make us feel truly special. My treatment was fantastic, eased the muscle tension from the gym and nearly sent me to sleep!
My wife also enjoyed hers, which was a lovely end to our stay. In summary, it was a beautiful hotel with extremely attentive staff. No pretence, just the right level of service and discretion. I can highly recommend Down Hall for a weekend or mid-week break and if visiting again, I would treat myself to at least a two night’s stay and perhaps explore the Gin menu further.