Hotel Review: The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa, Midhurst in West Sussex
The Spread Eagle is one of the oldest coaching inns in the UK and has welcomed guests to the beautiful West Sussex town of Midhurst for more than six centuries. This historic building – the oldest part of which dates back to 1430 – has welcomed some prominent people during its hundreds of years of hospitality including royalty and celebrities, and even Lord Admiral Nelson! So as we arrived at the quaint inn on a blustery autumn day we knew we were going to be well looked after inside the warm, cosy hotel.
Despite being modernized and improved over the years, the building – which has grown and spread into surrounding buildings and new extensions – still maintains much of the historic charm that entices guests to step through the door and back in time. Every wall is wonky, every floor is uneven, every stair creaks. This charismatic building whispers secrets and stories of its past with every footstep you take around the higgledy-piggledy corridors and through each narrow doorway.
You enter the hotel through the pretty Victorian-style conservatory, which acts as an entrance – with large eagle statues and grand floral displays to greet guests – as well as a lounge area, and airy dining space for afternoon tea. The light-filled space connects the main hotel and restaurant to the smart new spa and the stunning Jacobean Hall where medieval flags and candelabras hang from the vaulted ceiling above a long banquet table; the perfect space for weddings and events.
We check in and follow the receptionist as she guides us up the rickety staircase and across the galleried landing to The Queen’s Suite, our home for the night. The vast suite occupies a whole corner of the building on the first-floor with views onto the narrow streets of Midhurst below. The room is dark and cosy but the triple aspect windows allow morning light to stream in when the heavy drapes are open.
A small cosy lounge leads onto the large bedroom with huge oak four-poster bed at its centre – a bed that is certainly fit for royalty! Duck through a low-beamed doorway into the bathroom, with an authentic roll-top bath, and peak into the quaint ‘powder room’ (my favourite part of the suite), which dates back to 1430!
The Grandfather clock chimes as we head down to dinner, past cabinets filled with trinkets and antiques, vintage furniture and oil portraits in intricate, gilded frames. The restaurant is classic and refined. Crisp white table cloths and flickering candles set the scene and we’re seated at an intimate table in the window. Local tipples are on offer and I opt for the Wiston Estate rose as we butter our warm bread rolls and peruse the menu.
I chose the saffron and goats cheese risotto with bread crumb topping to start – a delicious dish which was warm and comforting, packed full of rich, salty flavours and bold yellow in colour. To follow, I had the cod with toasted cheese and potato croquettes. The cod was juicy and cooked perfectly, flaking under the fork – although I must admit the cheesey topping did jar with my tastebuds.
To finish, I chose the sugary and light passionfruit pavlova which was absolutely delicious. Sweet, fresh and packed full of flavours, the crunchy meringue and fluffy cream was delightful on the tongue while the tart passionfruit cut through the sweetness.
Through the restaurant and past the suit of armour (yes, The Spread Eagle has its own suit of armour on display!), the lounge bar is the perfect spot for an after dinner drink. In the winter, the roaring fires keep the dark space warm and filled with heat. In fact, it was too hot to sit in the bar during our visit so we decided to head back up to our room. Staff are friendly and personable, and were all too happy to help find us a board game to take with us (Cluedo seemed like an appropriate choice for this old, rambling building!)
After a fun game of Cluedo (I won and it was Colonel Mustard in the library with the revolver, if you’re asking!), it was time to get some shut-eye. While our suite – the biggest, most luxurious of the hotel’s 39 beautiful bedrooms and suites – occupies prime position, it does have a slight downside; it sits directly above the busy bar.
When we decided to hit the hay we had some trouble drifting. The thin walls meant we could hear a loud group of friends laughing and drinking below until they finally headed off to bed in the early hours of the morning.
We slept well in the darkness of our large suite, arising bright and early to the sound of birdsong and the hotel bustling back to life. Breakfast is served back in the restaurant with hot choices of traditional fry-ups and egg treats. We opted for the fresh, continental breakfast of fruits, yoghurts and pastries with steaming coffee. Feeling rejuvenated, it was time for some more R&R.
The Spa is tucked around the back of the hotel, where the old inn transforms into a new, sun-drenched atrium. The spa is small but adequate – a 14m pool is too small for length swimming but is suitable for a soak. The Jacuzzi occupies a private corner and a small steam room and sauna complete with ‘starry sky’ ceiling finish off the spa. I head up to a warm, snug treatment room filled with relaxing music and revitalizing scents.
I’ve opted for the 60 minute Soul Retreat treatment; a blissful combination of foot scrub, massage and facial. It starts with vigorous but enjoyable foot spa and massage before we move onto the soothing massage table (a water mattress filled with warm water makes it feel like you’re laying on a giant hot water bottle!).
The massage was relaxing and I enjoyed laying on my back looking up into the eaves and drifting off into a light doze. The treatment finishes with a facial and head massage before I move into The Nest to lay on a comfortable day bed with a refreshing glass of citrus water.
Everything at The Spread Eagle is refreshingly authentic and genuine. There’s no mock fakery here; everything is charming and authentic. The building sounds old with creaks and squeaks from every corner; and smells old, burning candles and wood polish wafting through the rooms. But the service and ambience is of a modern-day luxury. Step back in time with a stay at The Spread Eagle, without compromising on everything that makes a hotel of the 21st century comfortable and special.
Stays at The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa are from £119 per night, based on two sharing a Standard Room, mid-week, on a B&B basis. Stays in the Queen’s Suite are from £329 on a B&B basis.
Address: South Street, Midhurst GU29 9NH
Phone: 01730 816911