Escape the city and head to the countryside this Christmas
A stay at Down Hall truly encompasses an experience like no other, offering the ideal leisurely countryside break to unwind away from the city. Seamlessly blending historic country house splendour with contemporary bedrooms, a brand new spa and AA Rosette-awarded restaurant, Down Hall is an idyllic country escape located right on London’s doorstep.
Dating back to 1322, the impressive mansion has been home to artists, lords and baronets who’ve all influenced the flamboyant Italianate style – think crystal chandeliers, coffered and gilded high ceilings and opulent fabrics. The building stands within 110 acres of thriving gardens and woodland near Bishop’s Stortford on the Hertfordshire/ Essex border – a mere 45 minutes from central London.
Currently undergoing the final stages of a transformative £6 million refurbishment project, due for completion in mid-2016) all of Down Hall’s 99 bedrooms have been individually designed to reflect the elegance and character of this historic property, whilst providing modern day creature comforts. More than 50 of the west wing rooms have already been completed, decorated in traditional heritage colours with bright accents in classic country house-meets-contemporary chic. Classic and Executive bedrooms are spacious and comfortable whilst the feature bedrooms boast luxury two or four-poster beds with views of the landscaped gardens.
AA Rosette-awarded restaurant, The Grill Room specialises in Anglo-French cuisines from Head Chef Matthew Hill who comes with a handful of experience at top London eateries. A must try includes two-bone rack of lamb with confit shoulder, lamb croquette and dauphinoise potato and gluten-free passion fruit parfait. Inspired by the Downton-like surroundings, guests can enjoy a luxurious and traditional afternoon tea service for £21.50 per guest. Make it a special occasion by adding a celebratory glass of Champagne for £28.50 per guest. For the festive season, finger sandwiches (roast turkey and cranberry; duck egg mayonnaise with watercress) are served alongside a selection of freshly-baked fruit and plain scones accompanied by Devonshire clotted cream and luxury Tiptree preserves. Petit-fours include chocolate brownie fudge slice, orange and cinnamon cupcakes and white chocolate and coffee profiteroles. Served 2pm–5pm daily, £21.50 per guest, £26.50 with a glass of Prosecco and £12.50 per child.
As part of the investment, Down Hall reveals a brand new, ultra-modern Eden Spa with facilities including a hydrotherapy pool, a mood-lit sauna; a state-of-the-art steam room; and a wellness power shower alongside spacious changing rooms. Four brand new treatment rooms, three single and one double, are filled with ESPA natural skin and spa products for luxury facials, body treatments and waxing, whilst luxury beauty brands Jessica Nails and Mii make up are used for manicures, pedicures and makeovers.
Special events take place in the grounds throughout the year (from firework displays on Bonfire Night to festive fêtes) or simply stroll through the manicured gardens and the forest. Test your skills on the giant chess set, indulge in a game of croquet or visit the ducks at the duck pond with treats available from reception. In the summer months, beautifully packaged picnics can be prepared in wicker baskets for quintessentially British al fresco dining. Companies looking to inject energy into team building days can make use of the outside space with opportunities for quad biking, treasure hunts and much more.
This winter, Down Hall is set to look like a scene from a Christmas classic, all picture perfect, warm and welcoming. This festive season, Down Hall will cater to all manner of Yuletide occasions, from gathering gifts and visiting Santa’s Grotto at its Christmas market on 26th November to festive afternoon tea sittings and party and overnight packages for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
On Christmas Eve, guests can settle down for a comfortable night of time-honoured traditions, from a leisurely afternoon tea to Christmas carols around the tree while sipping mulled wine. A three-course dinner will follow before an unbeatable night’s sleep. Start Christmas Day with a hearty full English before unwrapping presents. From 12.30pm enjoy a glass of champagne and luxury four-course Christmas lunch with the resident pianist. During lunch, Santa will make a surprise visit for parents with children. The Down Hall gardens are the perfect place to walk off lunch before a light buffet dinner in the evening followed by the Down Hall quiz.
Address: Matching Rd, Hatfield Heath, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire CM22 7AS