Hotel Review: Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, Newmarket in Suffolk
Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa, situated in the famous horse-racing town of Newmarket, Suffolk, is nestled in three acres of secluded rose gardens and adjacent to some of the most famous paddocks and training stables in the world.
On arrival, my guest Adam and I were warmly welcomed and once checked in, the porter took our bags to our room. First impressions were that it looked spacious and was light and airy, over-looking the grand driveway to the hotel and was clean and well presented.
The bathroom was compact but modern and clean and I was impressed by the range of Molton Brown toiletries on show. I noticed that there was only one bath robe and so called down to reception and one was delivered straight away. Adam was very impressed with the heated bathroom mirrors and we both felt this was a nice touch.
On inspection of the fridge/tea cupboard, we found water and fresh milk and there was also a suitable range of hot refreshments and packets of locally made lavender shortbread, which I thoroughly enjoyed with a cup tea (tea pigs) but Adam was not so keen, “it’s like eating a plant” he remarked.
We then went to have a look around the facilities, which include a spa and fitness centre. The Spa at The Bedford Lodge is the region’s only 5-bubble spa in East Anglia (voted by the Good Spa Guide), it offers a variety of different treatments, including massage and beauty treatments. We walked in and it had an overwhelming feeling of calm and tranquillity; it smelt of luxurious oils and the décor was very opulent. We hadn’t pre booked any treatments and they were fully booked, so book in advance to avoid disappointment. We then wandered over to The Edge, the on-site fitness centre and indoor swimming pool, where the attendant was very friendly and helpful and provided us with complimentary towels. The centre has a large indoor heated pool, a steam room, a sauna and a Jacuzzi and is open to hotel guests and members of the public who are centre members. It was fairly quiet and we both found it to be very relaxing and had a very enjoyable afternoon. I would recommend it for families with children as well as couples.
Before dinner we had a drink in the bar. It was, naturally, adorned with paintings of horses and horse racing and the hotel is clearly proud of its equine heritage. The restaurant, Squires, holds two coveted AA Rosettes and the head chef James Fairchild has been instrumental to the restaurant holding on to the coveted awards. James delivers a wealth of experience spanning 24 years and, during the earlier phase of his career, he served on luxury cruise liners including the iconic, QE2 and the 5 star Sea Goddess II yacht. He has also worked at Champneys at Forest Mere and previously was head chef at The Millstream Hotel in Bosham. One thing both Adam and I both loved is that all ingredients are locally sourced and suppliers are listed on the bottom of the menu. The restaurant was tastefully decorated, with a large cocktail bar to one side. The dark wood structure was stunning to look at but was noted to be very close to some of the tables, so no one would be able to actually sit at it comfortably and because of its position, the tables next to it were an obstruction to the waiting staff and so it looked to be more of a hindrance! The restaurant manager spoke to us about this after the meal and said that they know it is a problem and are thinking about changing the layout so as to resolve the issue.
We were seated at a table with high backed, leather arm chairs and were greeted with a glass of prosecco. There were two menus provided, one a bar menu and the other an a la carte menu, the bar menu was very varied, to suit all tastes and contained the standard dishes you would expect such as beef and ale pie, prime beef burger, sausage and mash and a large range of steaks and fish. The al a carte menu was divine and I was spoilt for choice! A good variety of meats, including braised ox cheeks and also seafood and vegetarian options were available. Our waiter was very attentive and was on his first ever shift! He coped remarkably well and was very eager and friendly. Ordering spirits took a rather long time as the staff only use the cocktail in the restaurant for wines and so have to go into the bar for other drinks orders, causing an unnecessary delay.
A sweet potato muffin with coriander yoghurt, which we both enjoyed. The muffin was light and very flavoursome and was complemented well by the yoghurt.
I chose from the al a carte menu and had roast duck breast with roasted macadamia nut praline, ginger beer jelly, spiced pineapple and coriander salsa and a port dressing. The duck breast was moist and cooked to perfection, the praline was a little disappointing as I was expecting it to be made with caramelised sugar and crunchy in texture but actually was more of a crumb than a praline. The ginger beer jelly was zingy and burst in my mouth with lovely sharp flavours and the spiced pineapple salsa was sweet and sour and not too spicy and this was all complemented well by the smooth and rich port sauce.
Adam chose beetroot and goats cheese bread to start and this was accompanied by a balsamic and oil dip. The bread was a beautiful red colour and was full of favour and very light and airy. He said it was divine.
I had pressed pork belly with boulangere gratin, toffee apple puree, charred sprouts, chestnut shaving, roasted beets and an apple and pork sauce. This dish was a winner for me. The pork was tender and melted in my mouth and the skin was beautifully crunchy and salty. The potato gratin was delicious and I loved the toffee apple puree (but I do have a sweet tooth) and the charred sprouts and beets added another texture to the dish. The only small criticism I have was that the chestnut shavings were lost on the dish and I couldn’t taste them, which was a shame.
Adam chose from the bar menu (he is a meat and 2 veg type of guy) and had the beer battered cod with mushy peas, lemon, tartare sauce and hand cut chips. The portion was very generous and it smelt delicious. The batter was perfectly crisp and the cod was tender and cooked perfectly. He adored the chunky chips and they were lovely and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, just what you need to dip in the delightfully sharp tartare sauce.
I really was spoilt for choice with the dessert menu, all ten options sounded amazing! I opted for the dark chocolate pot, honeycomb and milk sorbet. Where do I begin! This dessert was heavenly. Rich dark chocolate ganache was sprinkled with a generous amount of crunchy honeycomb and topped with a large dollop of milk sorbet and an edible flower. I was in chocolate heaven but was glad of the refreshing sorbet to cut through all of the sweetness. I couldn’t finish it – it was just too big and would have been better in a smaller pot. It would be a good dessert to share, there was plenty enough for two but unfortunately Adam was too full from his gigantic main to even try a mouthful!
We decided to have breakfast in our room. We both opted for the full English breakfast and this was delivered in a timely fashion. The waiter was extremely helpful and insisted on laying up the table under the window for us. The food looked and smelt fantastic but unfortunately they had forgotten the butter, so I rung down to reception and this was delivered to the room immediately. We thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast, especially the locally sourced sausages; they were peppery, juicy and full of flavour. The toast was delivered with a variety of condiments and there was a selection of white and granary. Overall it hit the spot and was a perfect end to the stay.
The Bedford Lodge is an impressive, contemporary country house hotel, steeped in heritage, in the heart of Newmarket and is also one of the leading venues for conferences, corporate events, away days, team events, business seminars and meetings. The whole stay was immensely enjoyable and both Adam and I were overwhelmed by the friendly, professional, courteous staff, who made us feel very welcome. We were very impressed by the facilities at the hotel overall and with it only being an hour out of London, is the perfect getaway for couples or families looking for a relaxing break away from the stresses of the city.
Address: Bury Rd, Newmarket CB8 7BX / 01638 663175