Hotel Review: Hallmark Hotel Flitwick Manor, Flitwick in Bedfordshire
Words by Kris Griffiths
There’s nothing like a wide gravel driveway lined with imposing trees to give you a real sense of arrival at a hotel venue, and when that venue is a grade II listed manor house dating back to the 17th century you know you’re in for a special experience.
With its distinctive red brick architecture and tall Georgian windows, Flitwick Manor is an impressive sight to behold as I park my car beside it and head in to reception through the front door, not before pausing to admire the scenic grounds and parkland sweeping away from the building, ready for exploring later.
It is a very secluded and peaceful location here, situated on the outskirt of the eponymous village of Flitwick (pronounced ‘Flittick’) in the heart of Bedfordshire, while being very accessible too – more on that and local attractions later.
For now I occupy myself with taking a look around the manor itself after checking in. There are 19 bedrooms in this four-star establishment, which is part of the award-winning Hallmark Collection. It is tastefully decorated throughout, with large, old portraits on the walls of the staircase leading up to the second floor. With period furnishings and finishings around its corridors a sense of centuries-old history pervades the place.
The bedrooms include three four-poster suites and family rooms, while the Master Bedroom houses kissing baths and a private sauna. My own room is a character bedroom with a four-poster bed and a very slightly sloping floor which is characteristic of buildings this old, and certainly adds to its unique charm.
Elsewhere around the building are three inviting function suites – the Morning Room, the Library and the Brooks Room – which can be used for private dining or meetings accommodating up to 58 people. I note how the hotel would make for an ideal wedding venue with a historical difference, and find out that you can have exclusive use of the whole property should you desire. It is licensed for civil ceremonies and there is plenty of car parking available.
When evening rolls around I head into the homely downstairs lounge with my partner for a pre-prandial drink, admiring from a comfy sofa the tall ceilings, fireplace and antique décor over a Scotch whisky from the bar.
When it’s time to dine a two AA Rosette awarded restaurant awaits, and it does not disappoint on the food and service front. I enjoy a 28-day aged Hallmark sirloin steak paired impeccably with a Trapiche Malbec while my partner plumps for a roasted lamb rump served on minted soya beans with caramelised sliced potatoes. Amid the restaurant’s attractive wood-panelling and gentle classical guitar background soundtrack, it is certainly a memorable meal, and we’re happy to return there for breakfast.
The restaurant is also a great spot for afternoon tea, which brings many through the doors at the weekend. It serves a selection of sandwiches, cakes and homemade scones, which you can enjoy on the outdoor terrace during the warmer months, or with an inside window view of the grounds when not so clement.
And it’s the outdoor area that has to be Flitwick Manor’s trump card, beyond the history bound up in its walls. There are four acres of beautiful, well-maintained grounds to stroll through while wild rabbits bound around in the distance: from its croquet lawn immediately outside to a forested arboretum a bit further afield, with some interesting wooden sculptures carved from tree trunks to observe beneath the tree canopy. There is also a walled garden and a lake, along with a grade I listed parish church and grass-topped grotto bridge with Gothic features, concealing an arched room beneath it.
My only complaint, if I had to think of one, is that the tennis court here is now out of use, so if you’re the active sort then there’s not much to do activity-wise beyond some gentle croquet on the front lawn.
There is plenty to do further afield from the site, however, with attractions such as Woburn Safari Park, Woburn Abbey, Bletchley Park and the English Heritage-run Wrest Park all within easy distance. The hotel is very accessible by road, just three miles from the M1 and close to the M25. It is also well linked to London, with Flitwick railway station less than a mile away, offering a regular train service to London every half an hour.
As a conclusion, if you’d like a touch of historic class to your romantic hideaway hotel break, there aren’t many better looking venues within or without in this part of the country. And if picturesque grounds to ramble around are your thing, Flitwick Manor also has that exceptionally covered. Expect to be taking it very easy here, and wanting to return.
Address: Church Rd, Flitwick, Bedfordshire MK45 1AE.
Call 0330 028 3406 or for further information visit hallmarkhotels.co.uk/hotels/hallmark-hotel-flitwick-manor