Review: Down Hall Country House & Hotel, Essex

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Good Things’ editor Zoe Perrett enjoys a oppulance weekend getaway in her possess home county…

Following a Friday afternoon public usually a few towns away, we cackle adult Down Hall’s expostulate a small after than we’d hoped. Tardiness works in a favour, giving us a twilight perspective of a considerable 16th-century noble home bathed in orange light, in a full throes of one of a weddings that a Essex venue hosts so often.

Although we have unlimited entrance to a four-star hotel’s gym, we tell one another – and ourselves – that hastily adult and down a few flights of stairs in hunt of Room 130 puts sufficient cardio points in a pool to aver streamer true for a Eden Spa where we’ve pre-booked massages that, given my migraine and LB’s twinge-y back, are many timely.

Spa and ahhh

DownHall Aug 15 Pool 2

For him, a low hankie massage; for me, a prohibited mill affair; for both of us, a couples’ massage room. Choose this choice over singular bedrooms if a) we have a partner who can be critical and wordless or b) we venerate your partner not in annoy of, though for, his ability to offer a smart using explanation between occasional snore-y micro-slumbers.

We have a poetic almost-hour and emerge relaxed, rested and rather fragrant, reconvening post-shower on recumbent chairs whose remote-controlled sections offer us an comical diversion. The soppy sauna facilities a hydrotherapy pool, sauna, sauna and prohibited and cold showers, that we flit between until a fingertips are wrinkled and a growling of a stomachs threatens to drown out a H2O jets.

 Dinner a deux

Venison 2Filling adult on a bread basket is a rookie blunder that we (me a veteran and LB a veteran plus-one) tumble tainted of any and any time. Especially when a preference in a AA-Rosette-awarded Grill Room includes white, brown, olive, and raisin and walnut options, all of that contingency be slathered with butter and sampled while we take in a beautiful taste and assume on a resources of a associate diners.

We uncover good patience in saving a hurl or dual until a starters land – handy, since we’ve opted to take a severe with a well-spoken and left for a ham pawn terrine and a foie gras and duck parfait. Down Hall’s cook Matthew Hill is from a Pollock propagandize of image decoration; any image facilities as many dots and dashes as a summary authored in Morse code.

The orange-y terrine is ornate with brioche crumb, frail virtuoso leaves, little gummy shallots, and petite quenelles of a arrange of tarragon-rich tartare sauce. Depending on your psychological state, a butter-encased parfait resembles a slim bullion ingot or a Kit Kat Chunky – both good since it’s abounding and sweet; well-teamed with dim cherries, coffee crumb, and a feathery brioche.

We’re here not usually to eat and splash though to make merry; a latter goal aided by my viscous, dried-apricot and-Battenberg-cake Sauternes and LB’s bottle of Malbec that we whirl and sniff, and, like a seasoned sommelier I’m positively not, announce a nose as ‘stewed plums and cinnamon!’.

We met over chips 3 months ago to this day, and so a participation of a Jenga-like smoke-stack of a things alongside a flavoursome 10oz aged rib-eye beef is generally apt; and even some-more acquire than it would be on any other occasion. LB loves peppercorn sauce, we Bearnaise; we’re both gratified with The Grill Room’s versions.

I’m blissful for a gooseberry-ish sharpness of my Sauvignon, since a pig swell is unequivocally a image for a honeyed of tooth. Every member – slow-cooked meat, silky-smooth churned mash, butternut puree and chunks of vanilla-infused candied quince – is indulgent, and any object complements a plate-fellows, though we determine that a spicy component or dual would capacitate us to purify a image purify and not call a white dwindle median through.

As distant as we knew, LB ‘likes a cheesecake, though it wouldn’t be my choice’; though tonight he seems to have acquired a newly-zealous love for that unequivocally dessert. we did consider a hiss series with a same fruit in a sputter ice cream would be good – that’s because we systematic it. But no matter; we benefit behind what we remove in a form of a satisfactory few forkfuls of chocolate spicy with almond brittle.

 Sweet dreams

Room 110 SH April16 HiRes01 (1)l

It’s always good when a post-prandial lapse tour entails zero some-more than towering a few hundred feet to one’s room, and tonight that’s a good fate.

We competence have harboured grand skeleton for a regretful dusk of furious abandon, though a Deluxe room’s relaxing grey taste and a decidedly complicated stomachs fast put compensate to that notion. The awaiting of burying ourselves underneath that huge, soothing bed’s blankets distant outweighs a allure of anything some-more desirous than examination Dudley Moore in LB’s dear Arthur before slipping off to a Land of Nod – and so we happily accept a destiny.

The morning after
The complicated fate that forestall a light seeping in from a outrageous window that takes adult one side of a room meant it’s roughly 9am before we watchful and there’s no time for a expected scrutiny of Down Hall’s 100 acres of gardens and woodland. we scuttle adult a stairs to a towering marble lavatory for one of a scaldingly-hot showers we so adore, while LB snuggles behind down to get any in. of mileage out of that mattress before breakfast.

With a bustling day of zero most in a pipeline, we know we need to fuel adult properly, so we start with extract and bowls of cereal from a cold buffet, layering adult several flakes and fruits like hipsters styling a subsequent Insta-recipes.

Multiple pots of tea dipsomaniac and Saturday papers digested, we strech a Full English by approach of a bit of backseat ‘for integrity consequence don’t bake a hotel down’ toast instruction during a rotary Dualit grill. Then, with regret, we check out – and strech a finish of what has been a unequivocally rather poetic stay.

Where: Matching Road, Hatfield Heath, Essex CM22 7AS.
Price: A special Valentine’s Day package is accessible on 10, 11 and 14 February for £269 per couple, including accommodation in a Classic Double room, a four-course cooking in The Grill Room, a bottle of Prosecco, and a gift in a room on arrival. 55-minute massages in a Eden Spa start from £55.
Bookings: To make a reservation, click here or phone 01279 731 441.

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