Nestled in a tiny Shrewsbury village on the borders of the Shropshire and Cheshire borders is the magnificent Hawkstone Hall and Gardens.
Luxury Hotel In Shropshire
This renovated monastery steeped in history completely takes your breath away on first sight. A drive through the automatic gates on a 1.5 mile narrow road meanders past a golf course, through woods and onto incredible views of the surrounding rolling fields and beyond to the Welsh valleys. Anticipation on overdrive, the imposing 18th century manor house finally comes into view.
Greeted at the car by a butler in tailcoats and relieved of our luggage. You can help but think you’ve accidentally stumbled onto the set of Downton Abbey. Step through the grandiose double doors, smiles and glasses of bubbles await. There are no check in desks, instead you’re settled on sumptuous sofas in the equally grand reception area.
History of Hawkstone Hall
Originally built as a stately family home for a wise and caring man, a former Mayor of London and good friend of Henry VII – Rowland Hill. The estate became the ancestral seat of the Hill family for more than 300 years.
It changed hands and had many guises over the course of time from a convalescence home for injured soldiers, to a decadent party pad for the wealthy and privileged. In the 1920s the estate was bought by the Redemptorists, Roman Catholic missionaries, who turned Hawkstone Hall into a seminary for spiritual renewal.
Changing hands for only the fifth time in its history in 2017 Hawkstone Hall was bought by The Distinctly Hospitable Group. Opening its doors after a multi-million pound, two and a half year renovation as a luxurious hotel.
Set in 88 acres of picturesque gardens, James the House Manager zoomed us around on a private buggy tour of the grounds. Past apple orchards, rose gardens, a croquet lawn, ancient cemetery, secret garden, original 18th century lily pond and a river which he excitedly informed us had been restocked with new fish.
The expansive grounds are ideal for extravagant corporate events, yoga and fitness retreats, and memorable celebrations regularly hosted by the hotel.
Our tour continued inside discovering all the elegant spaces guests can enjoy on their stay. An unexpected airy Winter Garden built in the 19th century with huge double aspect windows is dotted with metal seating in case you fancy a pew amongst the foliage.
This area originally housed an indoor swimming pool, where the monks took a daily dip. Now the area has been converted into a flamboyant ladies’ powder room complete with exquisite William Morris wallpaper.
A charming chapel built by the Redemptorists no longer holds any religious aspect but does have working bells. Dream come true when I was allowed to ring them out.
In the days monks roamed the corridors the Tapestry Room was a former billiards room – They certainly knew how to relax. Today the beautiful space is used for weddings or events.
We continued through to the lavish Ballroom with Regency decor highlighted in the gold gilded intricate ceiling and mouldings. Jaw droppingly stunning, this is a very special room indeed.
FOOD AND DRINK
Before dinner we made our way to the Snug bar and ordered pre-dinner bubbles, enjoying them in the Library taking an opportunity to peruse the vast collection of literature. Famous quotes adorn the walls, it’s the perfect spot for a quiet drink or reading the morning papers.
The Saloon restaurant is situated in one of the oldest parts of the original main house and is really quite marvellous. Exuding a decadent atmosphere on the walls hang huge portraits of some of the Hall’s previous owners. The intricate golden leaf ceiling and high arch windows adds a stately opulence to the room. There is no formal dress code as you would expect in a room of this grandeur. Although dining in such rich surroundings it’s hard not to dress up.
A 1920s soundtrack filled the room whilst dinner was served from a small menu offering British dishes with bold flavours. Executive chef Andrew Watts uses locally sourced ingredients inspired by the seasons for his creations.
I started with heritage tomatoes and goats cheese mousse swimming in a tomato consommé to a main of salted baked celeriac served on a bed of vegetable risotto and tarragon cream. We finished with an apple tart on flaky pastry made from apples picked from hotel’s orchard. Service was faultless. The dishes looked appetising, but unfortunately lacked flavour.
Breakfast in the same restaurant was a more tasty affair with a choice of a continental breakfast, complete with croissants, fresh fruit and cereals or an option of a cooked breakfast all served straight to the table.
At the top of a sweeping wooden staircase are the 12 exquisite suites and 25 luxury bedrooms.
Softly playing classical music from the retro radio serenades as you enter a beautifully decorated room in creams and sage green.
A queen sized bed draped in crisp white linens and huge fluffy pillows dominates the room.
Elemis toiletries can found in the bathroom and by the bedside – Sleepy pillow spray and lip balm are lovely little touches. The buttery shortbread went down a treat, but odd that a hotel of this standard doesn’t provide a mini bar.
Things to DO at Hawkstone Hall
There are plenty of things to keep you occupied on this ample estate. From a round of golf on the nationally renowned two course club to hiring a bicycle to explore the magnificent gardens.
Less than a mile away are the Hawkstone Park Follies. Embark on a two or three hour adventure through a historic woodland landscape with cliffs, crags, networks of caves, rhododendron jungles, stunning views and a series of extraordinary monuments. Or head to Hawk Lake for a spot of fishing and laser clay shooting can be arranged on the grounds if booked in advance.
Hawkstone Hall is a beautiful and tranquil getaway – a complete escape from everyday life. On our visit the hotel was quiet and there was a real sense of seclusion with the vast grounds and grand surroundings.
The secret will soon be out about this very big house in the country with its splendid refined elegance and incredibly helpful staff. A spa is soon on the horizon too, I’m sure it will be the place to stay when visiting the Shropshire hills.
Have you explored the county of Shropshire? Love to know any other hidden gems in the area. Let me know in the comments box below.
Hawkstone Hall | Weston | Shrewsbury | SY4 5UZ | Website
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