UK hotel review: Inspector calls Hambleton Hall in Rutland where prices are ‘absurd’
Impeccable service but golden flowers on the dinner table, breakfast fruit ‘disappointingly covered in cling film’ and ‘absurd prices’… Inspector not a fan of Hambleton Hall in Rutland
- Hambleton Hall was built in 1881 by the passionate bon viveur fox hunter Walter Marshall
- Now? A ‘formal hotel with fussy food, valances and rugs everywhere’
- The Inspector pays £510 for dinner, bed and breakfast.
- Remember, the Inspector pays his way… and tells it like it is…
Walter Marshall, the mad fox-hunting bon viveur who built Hambleton Hall in 1881, had as his motto: Fay ce que voudras, “do what you will.”
And his sundial on the terrace is inscribed with the words Nunc Hora Bibendi, ‘Now is the time for a drink’.
Hambleton Hall owner Tim Hart, whose sons Sam and Eddie run the popular Barrafina chain of Spanish restaurants, makes a big deal out of this in the hotel directory, yet the atmosphere in his hotel is strictly regulated.
Hambleton Hall has an atmosphere, says the inspector, that is “strictly regulated”.
‘Please dress elegantly in your own way’ is an instruction. ‘Please order your breakfast the night before’ is another.
And, upon arrival, the receptionist reminds us that we go down for drinks at 7:30 p.m. and sit down for dinner at 8:00 p.m. So don’t be late, she might have added.
Occupying a glorious position overlooking the Rutland Water, Hambleton Hall is a reminder that the Colefax and Fowler country house style of hotel, which burst onto the scene in the 1980s, is still with us.
Formal, impeccable service, fussy food, borders, rugs everywhere and sky-high prices. We are paying £510 for dinner, bed and breakfast and despite what the Good Hotel Guide says about all rooms having “garden or lake” views, ours overlooks the kitchen patio at the side of the building .
The inspector says that Hambleton Hall occupies a glorious position overlooking Rutland Water, pictured
Hambleton Hall, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8th.
Doubles are priced from £375. For more information call 01572 756991, or visit hambletonhall.com.
But it’s pretty in a slightly ostentatious way, with a flower headboard, curtains and blinds, high ceiling, neutral rug. The large bathroom is so well lit that it is startling even during the day.
We have pre-dinner drinks in the great room, where we are presented with menus and four small canapés, before moving on to the dining room, where there is an eerie silence. We should avoid a fight here, unless we want the whole room to hear it.
A surprise are the white carnations on the tables, which have turned brown. The food is also a throwback to the 1980s, when Brussels sprouts on the menu meant a tiny leaf of Brussels sprouts on the plate. It is too elegant, too minimalist and has an absurd price.
Since breakfast was ordered the night before, your fruit compote, or whatever, is waiting for you on the table, covered in cling film. This can be useful for staff, but has something daunting for guests.
A breath of fresh air beckons us as we pack up and prepare to leave, in every sense of the phrase.