Words by Amelia Bell
Situated above its leafy namesake, Richmond Hill Hotel commands a prime position overlooking the River Thames and 2,500-acre park, with the bustling shopping streets and cosy pub corners of Richmond on its doorstep, and central London just a tube ride away. A bucolic setting and enviable location, this recently renovated hotel offers up the perfect staycation for anyone in need of some respite from the city; great views, big breakfasts and fresh air equal a weekend break that feels like a proper countryside escape.
A Pinterest-worthy aesthetic, this luxury four-star hotel has upgraded all of its rooms, as well as the restaurant and bar, in a huge renovation that took place last year. A historic hotel with modern interiors, flashes of floral wallpaper paired with chintz furniture, colourful decorations and vibrant paintings bring fresh appeal to the 18th-century townhouse, all the while retaining its heritage and foundations (high ceilings, ornate fireplaces and Georgian features). Highlights include a seriously stylish bar, the Cedars Health and Leisure Club which boasts a massive pool and gym, and afternoon tea within the hotel grounds.
Imbued by the local character and history of Richmond, each of the 144 bedrooms have all the charms and comforts you’d hope for from a countryside bolthole with each one slightly unique to the next. Designed by award-winning Russell Sage Studio, they feature marble tiles, spacious beds and a clean-lined contemporary design. The rooms have an easy luxury to them; they feel warm and welcoming, stylish and sophisticated, but not over the top. I particularly enjoyed the free-standing bath that looked out onto the green Richmond vistas, the subtle design additions paying tribute to the artists and writers local to Richmond and the shampoos and conditioners courtesy of Penhaligons.
The Kitchen at 144 On The Hill was by far the highlight of the stay. A new makeover for the restaurant and classic British staples with a twist feature on the now smaller, more experimental menu based on soil, sea and land. Expect to see hearty venison ‘Humble’ pie, steak tartare accompanied by dripping toast and caper salt and chocolate fondant with almond milk ice cream; a dessert so decadent you’d never guess it was vegan. All in all, the dining experience was exceptional. It veers between relaxed and formal, cool and elegant; a setting that doesn’t feel stuffy but still feels like a treat. Arrive early and make the most of Happy Hour in the oval-shaped bar (now with cerulean-hued velvet armchairs, a chic marble floor and colourful mosaics) for a goldfish bowl of aromatic gin and tonic.
Make sure you’re up in time to sample the breakfast the next day, another high point, that serves up huge fry-ups with fresh sourdough and salty butter, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and homemade granola with British strawberries. If you’re still peckish, there’s always local honey that pairs well with buttery patisserie and an extensive selection of cheese to set you up for the day ahead.
Leaving the thrum of London and rush hour behind, there’s a distinct change of pace stepping foot on Richmond’s famous Quadrant street. The quintessential honey-hued town that, as if by accident, finds itself in the heart of London is bursting with boutiques and independent eateries, old sweet shops winding down tiny alleys and even older pubs. Figuratively, it couldn’t feel further from central London, literally, however, it’s just seven miles away. You can spend hours wandering around the famous park studded with deer, lakes and perfect picnic spots. Or head to Petersham Nurseries, the popular café and restaurant located nearby, where an afternoon of tea and scones within its pretty gardens (and a peruse of its homeware) is highly recommended.
As for the restaurants in Richmond upon Thames, they range from family favourites and local haunts to cool hotspots, from cult restaurant Al Boccon Di’vino, a no menu Venetian mainstay where they decide what you’ll be having (it’s that good) to gastropub dining and Sunday roasts courtesy of the Orange Tree. And for a real treat there’s The Bingham, a setting of chandeliers and fancy courses much like stepping into a scene from Downton Abbey. If you’re keen to venture further afield, hop on the Hammersmith and City line over to Kew Gardens to get a glimpse of the Royal Botanic Gardens or enjoy a quick potter around Hampton Court Palace.
In a nutshell
City and suburbs lie at the fingertips of this 18-century townhouse, making it an ideal base for urban dwellers in need of some fresh air and relaxation, or those wanting to explore a new part of London. If you want a quick getaway minus the stress of flights and hand luggage restrictions, a stay here will leave you feeling rejuvenated after a lovely weekend full of food, walks and country air.
Rooms start from £72 in low season for one person per night.
Address: 144-150 Richmond Hill, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey TW10 6RW
Phone: +44 (0) 20 8940 2247