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Food + Drink

Hampton Manor: The Countryside Staycation For Food Lovers

The former estate of British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, Hampton Manor entertained the great and the good of British society in its original heyday.

Now, it attracts foodies from across the country, who flock here for its two restaurants (one of which is Michelin-starred) and its bakery.

While the Grade II-listed exterior is a gothic masterpiece, complete with turrets, stained-glass windows, arched-stone doorways, a clocktower and walled gardens, inside it’s more modern country house, with Scandi-cool furnishings such as open bookcases and leather armchairs. Situated in the pretty village of Hampton in Arden, a 30-minute drive from the centre of Birmingham, it’s surrounded by 45 acres of countryside, with much to explore.

The Vibe

It’s cliched to describe a hotel as a home away from home, but there is a distinctly familial quality to Hampton Manor. The largely local staff are down-to-earth and friendly, and will happily offer you a ride on Bertha the golf cart if it’s raining. Other guests are a mix of well-heeled Brummies down for drinks and gastronomes or oenophiles from up and down the country toasting a special occasion. While families are welcome, it’s possibly better suited to couples or friends.

The Rooms

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to where to stay at Hampton Manor, with The Manor House, Walled Garden at Grace & Savour and Manor Cottage. Within the main house, the Henrietta Maria (so named after James I’s French queen) is particularly charming, with a roll-top tub underneath the window and striking feature wallpaper depicting a forest scene. The bathroom is unlike any we’ve seen before: be sure to look up to see the sky light from the waterfall shower situated in the turret. Toiletries are by artisan favourite 1000 Acres and there’s a Dyson hairdryer, plus a guide to grinding your own coffee in the morning. You’ll also find an illustrated map to the 45-acre grounds plus walking routes, not to mention countless tomes, should you find yourself with a spare moment to read.

The Food + Drink

The main attraction of any stay at Hampton Manor is without a doubt the food. In fact, the restaurants, Grace & Savour and Smoke, are so popular that you are required to reserve a table when you book your stay. Grace & Savour is the fancier of the two, where you can expect Michelin-star fine dining and a 15-course tasting menu, with dishes including pine-smoked beef brisket and red prawns. Meanwhile Smoke, helmed by Masterchef: The Professionals winner Stuart Deeley, is a more relaxed affair, with rustic wooden sharing tables and exposed brick. Cutlery is stacked up ready four-in-a-row in the specially made holders, hinting at the culinary journey that is to come.

Starters at Smoke include beef tartare served with red pepper, orange and pine nut, and a crab ravioli served in a crab bisque, both of which pack a real punch and slip down nicely. The signature main is the lamb, served pink, which comes accompanied by what must be the best roast potatoes in England, caramelised with onions. The standout dessert is Deeley’s recreation of a Malteser, with malted-milk ice cream coated in chocolate and hazelnuts. In the morning, breakfast is served in the main hotel’s dining room or at Smoke, where you can partake in its famous cinnamon buns – be sure to join the queue early as locals head here to get their weekend pastries – sourdough and cakes (the Basque cheesecake, wild garlic focaccia and hazelnut croissants are particularly popular).

The Little Extras

On arrival, guests are invited to enjoy a glass of fizz and a help-yourself slice of cake in the Library bar, where you can choose your own vinyl records to put on while you mingle (or not) with other guests checking in. Other nice touches include the casual breakfast bar set-up in the reception where you can get a takeaway coffee and pastry before anyone else is up. We also love the intimate daily wine tastings, which take place in the same spot and are led by sommelier Max, whose passion is for natural wines.

The To-Do List

Any foodie stay worth its salt offers a cookery school, which is true of Hampton Manor. Book on to one of its cinnamon bun courses to learn how to make the popular pastries for yourself. If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing there are also two treatment cabins hidden amongst the hotel grounds where you can book in for a facial or massage. In the village itself, there’s a nice gastro pub, The King’s Arms, plus lots of pretty walks, including one along the canal towpath. For a bit of culture, you can head to National Trust property Packwood House for a wander, or to Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, while the bright lights of the UK’s second city, Birmingham, call if you want to extend your foodie trip further and make it a Michelin-restaurant crawl.

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