The picturesque Hampton Manor in the heart of Warwickshire has always been a popular destination for weddings (it’s a photographer or Instagram user’s dream) and for business travellers who prefer the luxury country house option to the city hotels nearby Birmingham.
But as I’m neither getting hitched nor sealing a deal at the NEC why would I choose to head to this Solihull spot? Well, if you can’t get to me through my heart or my wallet – my stomach is a sure thing. Hampton Manor is putting its mark on the gastro-map and I’ve got my sat nav programmed for its location.
The hotel is literally just off the M42, nestled in the picturesque greenery of Hampton-in-Arden.
Sarah-Jane perches on one of Hampton Manor’s imposing outer walls
The first thing that strikes me about Hampton Manor is not the exterior – it’s an impressive 19th century Manor House, but I was expecting that as I’d taken a peek at the website
It is the fantastic interior that really stands out.
The hotel has done an incredible job in choosing contemporary furnishings and decor that blends seamlessly with the original features – Minton tiles, hand-painted stained glass and carved oak panels and banisters.
It’s simply beautiful – in short as soon as I walk in I want to live there.
Sadly I have to make do with taking snaps of the wallpaper for potential refurb plans at my somewhat inferior abode.
The most impressive room is The Parlour, where the hotel’s signature Afternoon Tea is served.
It’s decadent but very much on the right side of taste.
Speaking of which, it’s tea for two, so I’ve brought my mum.
She loves a cuppa so we’ll soon know if this is any good or not.
Brew’s company: Sarah-Jane and her mother, Lynda, enjoy a magnificent afternoon tea
Hampton Manor is foodie heaven, with a top-class restaurant in Peels
Tea is a serious business at Hampton Manor.
We are served by Nathan the resident ‘tea maestro’, who has studied the history, science and culture of tea and who it’s safe to say loves tea almost as much as Mrs Mee.
No teabags or milk and two sugars here, the organic artisan tea is brewed at 80 degrees as science says this is the optimum temperature for the best flavour. Nathan talks you through the range of teas and tells you their stories from Assam and Oolong to Darjeeling.
The tea is served in a carafe with a tiny hourglass – when the timer runs out it’s ready to pour.
Guests are served drinks amid elegant surroundings, which includes beautiful wallpaper
This isn’t a PG tips experience, this is a tea treasure hunt.
It is great to try different teas and learn about the flavours and where they come from – it’s like wine tasting but without the hangover!
The traditional three-tier stand makes an appearance laden with goodies, savoury and sweet scones, broad bean and parma ham buns, blueberry cake and mini strawberry trifles.
The ingredients are seasonal so the afternoon tea menu changes regularly – a convenient excuse to come back.
There’s time for a stroll around the grounds to walk off the scones and a massage in the hotel’s treatment room before we are ready for dinner at Peels, the hotel’s fine dining offering.
The evening starts in Fred’s Bar with a glass, or two, of Rose Nyetimber – the English sparkling wine that is becoming a firm favourite in establishments that support British produce.
All the bedrooms at Hampton Manor are bespoke – and a dream to sleep in
Then into the dining room for the four-course tasting menu (more courses are available but not advised if you’ve filled up on afternoon tea!).
It’s a grand space but without the stuffy atmosphere you find in many fine dining rooms.
The staff too are relaxed and happy to talk you through the whole experience.
A sign of any good fine dining experience is the extra detail that goes into your meal.
Wine pairings are offered for each course and don’t disappoint, there’s home baked bread with homemade butter, and wagu beef dripping.
This starts off our food frenzy, followed by an amuse bouche of warm potato and thyme with thyme crisps, with a special mention to the little tasty offerings they slip in between courses.
Extras aside, the official first course from the menu is heritage tomatoes with burrata served with a tomato ice cream and soft cheese and lovage jelly.
Sea trout with dill, cucumber and caviar follows and then it is delicious wagu beef with artichoke and mushroom.
The hotel is surrounded by verdant countryside, as this image shows
An artisan cheese board is next with home-baked breads and crackers and homemade chutney and jellies.
The dessert is a very different take on blackberry and apple cheesecake – it should be called Freezecake as the chef blasts it with dry ice to make it a very unusual but very tasty final treat.
Hampton Manor is a welcome addition to gastro tourism in the Midlands and deserves to be a dining destination in its own right.
The fancy 15 bespoke bedrooms are a plus – especially after a day of indulgence. It’s just a short walk up the stairs to fall asleep happy… and rather full.