Arriving at Down Hall, in Hatfield Heath, Essex, I was ready for a relaxing girly break with a friend and as we rolled up the sweeping treelined drive way, I knew we had come to the right place.
Set in over 100 acres of woodland, this Italianate mansion feels completely rural despite being situated only 25 minutes away from Stansted Airport and 45 minutes from central London.
The mansion has seen a huge amount of investment over the past two decades and it shows in both the imposing exterior and exquisite interior.
Check in and Room
Check in was seamless at Down Hall, and we were shown to our room by very accommodating staff whom carried our luggage and welcomed us to our room which was beautifully traditional in style, comfortable and reflective of the grandeur and elegance of the property – we were luck enough to have a Feature Room which enjoyed fantastic views of the gardens.
Drinks on the Terrace
After dumping our bags and freshening up, we made our way to the sun drenched terrace for a well earned glass of wine. It was a lovely sunny Friday afternoon in September for our visit, so it was plenty warm enough to enjoy the delightful gardens from the comfort of the plush sofas on the terrace – all very decadent. Service was also excellent here, even though we were the only guests on the terrace, there was always somebody just within reach to top up the wine or check if we needed anything – however we never felt like we were being watched or intruded upon. I like good service, but I love discreet good service, the waiter knew when to top our drinks up and freshen our glasses, we didn’t feel disturbed whatsoever, yet a slight gesture or turn of the head and somebody was there to meet our every need – which was mostly wine, and more wine.
After sitting and completely relaxing for an hour or so, we were in for a real treat. It seemed a wedding had just taken place in doors and guests started to trickle out onto the lawns, armed with bubbly and confetti, followed by the newlyweds and their entourage of tiny flower girls and excited bridesmaids. Again, I could see the staff on hand with canapes and drinks and the guests seemed to be having a whale of a time, I’m not surprised to be honest, this is the wedding venue of dreams! We visited late Summer as I said, however, I imagine Down Hall to be just as enchanting during the colder months.
After unwinding in the sunshine and enjoying the merriment of the wedding, we headed for the spa and a hot stone massage. Renowned as their ‘Hero’ treatment , this ESPA experience delivers triple results by targeting three key areas – the back, the face and the scalp, making it the ideal treatment for anyone. It included back exfoliation and hot stone back massage, personalised facial and scalp massage. I think I floated back up to my room after the treatment. The Eden Spa is beautiful, warm, relaxing and friendly with a gorgeous aroma of the ESPA range of skin and spa products filling the air – we both treated ourselves to some products to take home.
In the evening we dined in the The Grill Room restaurant, which serves dishes from a modern English menu prepared with ingredients sourced from their own vegetable garden. The food was delightful, we chose share a starter of ham hock which was hearty and delicious, and to follow my gust enjoyed a perfectly cooked steak with all the trimmings and I enjoyed a vegetarian homemade gnocchi with courgettes, which was very tasty.
The menu has plenty of choices and some really tempting offerings, especially the range of cheeses for dessert – well friends, you know I love a cheeseboard!
As we wandered back to our room we could hear the revellers in full swing at the wedding celebrations – half of me wanted to crash the party, but the other half of me knew I was ready for a good nights sleep ahead of a day in the capital, so for once, I observed my better judgement and slipped into a huge comfy bed for a proper nights sleep.
As we departed Down Hall after a cracking breakfast, I thought about how much I wish I could have stayed and repeated my whole visit from start to finish. Yes, it really was that enjoyable.
Down Hall Hotel & Spa Matching Road, Hatfield Heath, Essex, CM22 7AS
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 731 441