We love this attractive Victorian manor hotel with beautiful gardens that's close to London but feels a million miles away. Oh and it's a great spot for conferences or weddings.
THE LOWDOWN / LOCATION
Tucked down a private road, the Grade II-listed Manor House is part of the exclusive Coombe Estate in Kingston-upon-Thames. It’s only a few miles from Richmond Park, Kingston town centre and Wimbledon – and yet it feels a million miles away. Its neighbours on Warren Road are all hidden behind high walls and big gates, and it all adds to the prestigious feel of the address. Coombe Wood Golf club is nearby.
Originally a private home – built in 1865 for Hugh Hammersley a successful banker to the British Army – the property has an illustrious history having been home until fairly recently to a string of wealthy bankers, American heiresses, politicians and humanitarians. Throughout it’s history the house has seen many guests from society’s elite including William Gladstone, King Edward VII, King George V and King George VI. In 2005, the manor house became a wedding and conference venue
There’s an elegant timeless feel to Warren House. It’s set on 4 acres of formal landscaped gardens, and although looking pretty parched right now, the gardens were still quite stunning. The name here says a lot, and despite the size and grandeur, Warren House really does feel like a house rather than a hotel. Yes, it’s dripping in Victorian splendour – rooms are large, ceilings are high and chandeliers are enormous, but think sumptuous stately home rather than large stuffy hotel.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The main restaurant – the Persian Dining Room – is where dinner and breakfast is usually served. It’s quite big with large windows overlooking the terrace and gardens. Dinner is also sometimes served in the more intimate Wisteria Room – and this is where we ate. My teenage son came with me to Warren House and he was wowed by the ornate grandeur of this room. It overlooks a courtyard that’s covered in wisteria, and is rammed with period features including intricately arched windows, a gorgeous fireplace and panelled walls.
It almost feels surreal – with the sumptuous velvet armchairs and white linen table covers – and I wondered if I’d made a mistake bringing a teenager instead of, say, Mr Muddy or my mum. But while the surroundings were undoubtedly luxurious, it doesn’t feel stuffy and unwelcoming.
In fact, the menu almost seems ordinary when set against the luxe surroundings.
My teenager started with the spicy nachos which came with glazed cheddar cheese, jalapeños, sour cream, guacamole, tomato salsa and fresh coriander – and he was very happy with his choice. I chose the crispy calamari with garlic and lemon mayo.
For mains, my son went for the burger, a 6oz beef burger on a glazed brioche bun served with coleslaw and triple cooked fries, and I went for the moules mariniere with pomme frites. In hindsight, I could have chose something a little less conventional – the slow-cooked shank of lamb with herb and lemon tabbouleh and a tomato fondue, perhaps. But both meals were well cooked, and we didn’t leave anything much behind.
For afters we shared a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, followed by the cheeseboard – a selection of English & Continental cheese served with quince jelly and biscuits. It was a nice way to end the meal.
There are 46 bedrooms divided into three categories to meet all budgets and if you can stretch to one of the feature rooms – £189 a night – you’ll be impressed by the size, grandeur and heritage decor, each of which is individually decorated. The deluxe rooms are the next down, and then you’ve got the more modern standard rooms which come as either double or twin. I was in a standard twin and while it’s not particularly flashy, there are luxurious touches like fluffy robes, Nespresso coffee machines, indulgent toiletries and a Bose sound system.
Well, I took my teenager – and there were other children staying, but the sumptuousness almost feels wasted on kids. Having said that, it was lovely to spend time with my teenager and the surroundings certainly gave us something to talk about.
OUT & ABOUT
Richmond Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks, is just a five minute walk away with, and Kingston-upon-Thames, with plenty of high-street stores, restaurants, bars as well as the Rose Theatre, is also nearby. For golfers, Coombe Wood Golf Club is next door. Or for tennis lovers looking for somewhere to bed down during Wimbledon, it’s only four miles away.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Weddings. There’s a choice of several rooms, including the three interconnecting Garden Rooms – Lavender, Lilac and Magnolia. Each is a Victorian beauty. If you happen to be local, Warren House would be a fab place to celebrate a special event or treat yourself to an afternoon tea. There are private dining rooms to suit a group of pretty much any size, and plenty of catering options.
Not for: The sedate country club vibe might not suit everyone.
The damage: From £129 an night for a standard double / twin up to £189 a night for one of the four feature rooms.
Warren House, Warren Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT2 7HY. Tel: 020 8547 1777. warrenhouse.com