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Muddy checks into Stanhill Court Hotel

Searching for a romantic overnighter in the Surrey countryside? Escape to this 19th-century country manor house, in a pretty English village less than 5 miles from Gatwick. Muddy checked in for the night.

THE LOWDOWN

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

Set in 35 acres of woodlands, this country manor house was taken over by family-owned RM Hotels just over two years ago – and since then has been transformed into a chic hotel and wedding venue thanks to a £2.6m makeover.

A former family home, it was built in 1881 in the Scottish Baronial style featuring halls with wood panelling, elaborate carvings, stained-glass windows, a minstrel’s gallery and a barrel roof. No wonder it has been awarded the AA’s Most Romantic Hotel of the Year.

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

The good news is that, post revamp, all of the romance and history remains – albeit with modern and contemporary twists. The original fireplaces – made from polished Charlwood stone quarried on the grounds – are still there in all their glory, as well as intricate carvings and wood-panelling. The refurb has seen the addition of 26 additional rooms, taking the total number to 60 each individually styled and decorated.

Outside, as well as lovely gardens and grounds with great walking paths nearby, the original Amphitheatre has been sympathetically re-built and is now available for weddings and events.

THE LOCATION

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

It’s about a mile outside Charlwood, a charming Surrey village in between Horley and Crawley. Charlwood is super-cute – think village green, a couple of pubs, café and a restaurant. But the big boon here is the proximity to Gatwick Airport – less than 5 miles, and yet not within the flight path (so no noisy plans can be heard coming or going). Brighton, on the south coast, and London are also both an easy train journey away, which puts this hotel in pretty stand-out location.

THE VIBE

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

Classic and elegant, yet resoundingly unpretentious, Stanhill Court is tucked away at the end of a long winding driveway surrounded by gloriously peaceful countryside. So far so blissful.

Stepping in through the large tiled porch, you’ll find yourself in a grand entrance hall with sweeping staircase curving off to the right and a glorious roaring fireplace directly in front of you – the perfect greeting on a wind-swept wintery evening such as the one I visited.

Oozing a contemporary period charm, it’s been done up with a stunning level of detail with elegant antique accents everywhere – from Chesterfield sofas and French-style throne chairs to grandfather clocks, bronze busts and statues of stags. Panelled walls are daubed in a crisp eggshell white set off against a soft and serene dove grey above, and paintings and artwork (many continuing the stag theme) hang in attractive clusters.

SCOFF & QUAFF

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey
Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

From the entrance hall, the bar is off through a door to the right. It’s an intriguing room which has been revamped into a contemporary chalet-style bar with narrow timber panels lining the walls and the floating ceiling, and a bar encased in textured grey stone tiles. There’s a good drinks list offering craft beer and ale, wine by the glass or bottle, and a selection of cocktails.

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

The restaurant, which to the left of the entrance, is altogether more traditional – think big bay windows, chandelier light fittings, oak parquet, half panelled walls and stone fireplace. When Stanhill was a private home, this was was the dining room and it retains an intimacy and warmth.

The menu offers up plenty of choice – starters range from crispy breaded whitebait or duck spring rolls to a classic prawn cocktail. I chose the falafel with a homemade aioli and Mr M went for the caprese salad – both were simple and spot on.

For mains I went for the Pesto Baked Salmon served with Mashed Potato, Broccoli and Lemon Caper Sauce – lovely combination of flavours. Mr M went traditional – a rib eye steak with hand cut chips, tomato and mushrooms and a peppercorn sauce – which was polished off at speed.

For pud, I chose the Lemon Tart with Raspberry Sorbet, which was delightfully light, beautifully presented and a perfect end to the meal. Mr M went for the White Chocolate and Raspberry Panna Cotta – another good choice.

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

We rolled out of there and had a nightcap by the fire in the entrance hall – a lovely way to finish off our evening.

PILLOW TALK

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

There are 60 bedrooms to choose from – many with four-poster beds and almost all with views out over the gardens and surrounding countryside. They’re in three categories: Signature (with a super-king bed), Family (with a double bed, with space to include extra beds), and Twin/Double with a (two twins or a super-king bed).

Our room was a decent size and quite masculine in its decor – a dark timber panelled floor-to-ceiling headboard with crisp white bedlinen. It was clean, comfy and the power rosehead shower was to die for!

Breakfast is a Continental offering with options for a full English (or cooked veggie breaky) as well as poached eggs with avocado.

KID-FRIENDLY?

It most certainly is – the Family rooms cater perfectly for those with children and the menu has enough options to satisfy even the most fussy of eaters. And of course, there’s plenty of space outside for little legs to run off any excess energy.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Stanhill Court Hotel, Charlwood, Surrey

Good for: Stanhill Court Hotel is a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle; lovebirds looking for a romantic break (ask for a room with a four-poster bed); groups of friends looking for a stylish getaway; and anyone looking for a cool and contemporary place to lay their head before jetting off on a holiday or work trip that leaves from Gatwick Airport.

Not for: It’s located in the countryside and it’s peaceful and quiet, so those craving something with a bigger buzz might want to go elsewhere.

The damage: A Double room only starts at around £90; Dinner B&B in a Double room is around £175. Upgrade to an Autograph room with a four-poster bed and you’re looking at £265 for room only or £325 for Dinner B&B.

Stanhill Court Hotel, Stan Hill, Charlwood, Surrey, RH6 0EP. stanhillcourthotel.co.uk

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