Driving along Cottonmill Lane in search my destination, the majestic cream facade of the 18th century Georgian Sopwell House slowly revealed itself, standing proudly amongst the surrounding green fields and countryside landscape. Turning left into the short driveway a large tree decorated with Christmas lights and baubles, and a glimpse of a large white polar bear through the glass reception doors, hints as to what awaits inside the hotel. Entering the reception area the towering life-size bear stands guard, watching over guests relaxing by the roaring reception fireplace. Christmas decorations adorn every corner and a delightful gingerbread masterpiece display charms guests as they wait to check-in or out of the hotel. On the day I arrived at Sopwell House the winter sun was also shining, with the clear blue sky framed perfectly against the backdrop of the reception conservatory-like pyramid glass roof.
Located within the 12-acre grounds of Sopwell House there are two accommodation options to choose from: the main hotel with 128 rooms and suites, and the exclusive 16 suites at the Mews. I was excited to be staying in one of the Mews suites, each of which has been given a common botanical name such as Juneberry, Foxglove and Hawthorne. The name of my suite for the night was Honeysuckle.
The Mews Honeysuckle Studio Suite
As soon as you enter the private gates at the Mews Sopwell House quiet tranquillity immediately washes over you. An intertwined stainless steel architectural sphere, the hypnotic sound of running water from the hydrotherapy pool and rich garden greenery welcome you along the white pathway to finding your suite. All of which adds to the ambience of this elegant country oasis retreat. The bespoke botanical garden is stunning even in the heart of winter and was designed by Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medalist, Ann-Marie Powell.
The Honeysuckle Studio Suite is located on the second floor. Once you enter the front door, ascend the steep stairs and turn right, you enter a spacious open-plan living/bedroom area. The decor of the studio apartment has a glamorous, yet warm, English country house vibe with wooden floors, gas fireplace, exquisite wallpaper, eclectic artwork and contemporary tartan sofa. Splashes of burnt orange complement the overall muted beige colour palette. The studio suite is spacious for two people, and the mirrors on the wardrobe doors and in the hallway give added depth and visual texture to the room.
The Honeysuckle Studio Suite comes with all the standard hotel room amenities you expect from a luxury style suite. Being an early bird who upon waking, enjoys a hot drink first thing in the morning, I especially appreciated the in-room kettle for making a cup of tea and Nespresso coffee machine. Although the bathroom layout was compact, the shower space was generous and equipped with a massive rain shower head. All suites come with the beautiful aromatic ESPA bathroom toiletries. And what a joy to have my hair feeling lovely and soft after a nice long shower and using the ESPA shampoo/conditioner products. A nice change from the harsh water quality of London which always turns my hair frizzy. The white towels and bathrobes were relatively new and fluffy, and the bath sheets were massive. The bathroom was equipped with under-floor heating and heated towel rail, and a nice added touch for a winter stay.
The Botanical Garden
In addition to the beautiful interior, the studio suite has gorgeous views overlooking the botanical garden and red rooftops of the old stable block. To add to the country experience, I was gleefully ecstatic to be able to open the windows and breath in the crisp fresh country air, listen to the birds tweeting and gaze out at the trees and open sky. With the window open, you could also tune out to the calming sound of the hydrotherapy pool water background. Relaxing on the comfy tartan sofa in the evening, the sleek gas fireplace added to the winter charm of the suite and kept me snug and warm on a cold foggy Sunday night.
The Director of The Mews and Sopwell House, Rafi Bejerano says, “The Mews at Sopwell House offers a fantastic concept and unique hotel experience which is unusual for the UK and surprisingly close to London, whilst providing guests with complete seclusion and privacy away from the outside world.” If you can drag yourself away from your adorable Mews suite or relax in the Mews only outdoor hydrotherapy pool, other delights await exploration in and around Sopwell house. I especially loved being able to walk around the grounds 12-acre property and immerse myself in the countryside. As I arrived on the perfect winters day, the dusk sky was absolutely stunning with shades of fiery orange seen on the horizon towards the setting sun, and soft pink and purple hues hugging the twilight moon in the opposite direction. Once the sun had disappeared in the late afternoon, I then went on to experience the hotel spa before my 7.30 pm dinner booking.
Guests staying at the Mews have complimentary access to use the facilities at the Sopwell House Spa (treatments not included). From the Mews, you can access the spa from within Sopwell House by walking through the hotel reception, or via a pebble pathway running along the front of the main hotel building to enter through the front door of the spa. From the seemingly unassuming spa reception area and spacious changing room, you enter a world of ultimate relaxation. The spa layout and contemporary decor is beautiful and with atmospheric LED lighting, you immediately switch into holiday mode. During the day the spa has a more spacious feel with the outdoors on full view through the floor to ceiling windows. You can stare endlessly beyond the spa walls to the sky and Sopwell House grounds from just about anywhere in the main spa area.
At night time the windows reflect a warm glow adding to the relaxing ambience of the spa. The huge 14.5-meter swimming pool dominates the spa with its mirror-like surface when free from swimmers and its checkered blue, lime green and grey tiles on the pool floor. Plenty of relaxation loungers surround the pool and upper deck area which also houses the steam room, sauna and shower. What I loved about the sauna was the huge window overlooking the main pool area which meant during the day, you could also view the outside world with trees stripped bare of their leaves and the cold winter sky.
Depending on the hotel, I find dining at hotels can be a hit-and-miss affair. However, the food at The Brassiere was outstanding and compliments go to the Chef and his team for my wonderful three-course evening meal. For starters, I chose an old classic reminiscent of the 1980s – Crayfish and Prawn Cocktail. The seafood was fresh and plentiful, and the cocktail sauce had the right level of spiciness. Continuing with the seafood theme, for my main dish I chose the Fillet of Salmon with Lemon and Herb Crushed Potatoes, Samphire, and Sauce Maltaise. The salmon was cooked to perfection. A first for me was tasting samphire, vibrant green stalks, similar to baby asparagus, which had a distinctively crisp and salty taste. And lastly, for dessert, I had the Sticky Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Icecream. This dessert was absolutely delicious and if I was eating at home, I would have seriously contemplated licking the plate clean.
Breakfast at Sopwell House was also served in The Brassiere buffet style. Not one for sleeping-in even during dark winter mornings I headed down to breakfast at around 7.30am. The restaurant was relatively quiet with half a dozen other tables occupied by early morning risers like myself. The buffet offered a good selection of hot and cold breakfast options along with tea, coffee and juices. Whether you are in the mood for a full English or Continental Breakfast there is plenty to choose from such as: sausages, bacon, poached eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, bake beans, hash browns, mushrooms, cereals, toast, jams, pastries, croissants, muffins, yoghurts, dried fruit, seeds, fresh fruit, cold meats, smoked salmon, cheese and pickles. And if you love berries and yoghurt, the Berry Compote with Greek Yoghurt tasted sweetly amazing.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sopwell House and highly recommend a stay in the Mews Suites. Especially if you are looking for a unique, secluded hotel experience in the countryside, and which is close to London. The newly refurbished 16 suites within the Mews definitely offers a luxury escape just moments walk from the stunning 18th Century Georgian Sopwell House. The next time I am looking to escape the hectic city pace or just want a tranquil getaway to recharge from the stress of daily life, an extended stay at the Mews Suites Sopwell House is definitely on top of my list.