Travel

Review: Hurley House Hotel, Berkshire

I’ve been to Hurley House Hotel twice now, and both times I utterly loved it. The first time I went alone, having booked an impromptu weekend break when it got to halfway through Friday and I realised I just couldn’t deal with the thought of doing any more work. I arrived, spent the night in the comfy bed, showered under the waterfall shower in the morning, spent six hours in the luxurious bathtub draining the contents of the minibar, and had a Michelin-starred dinner before bed. On the Sunday morning I had a wonderful brunch in a beautiful dining room, and by the time I left I knew I’d be back.

Fast forward to my friend’s surprise hen do, for which we had to arrange six of us to get together somewhere, either for dinner or the night or both. 

We picked Hurley House largely because I already knew it was as good as it looks in the pictures on their website. They bent over backwards to make the weekend magical, and they absolutely succeeded. The staff at every juncture were lovely and as helpful as they could possibly be, and it turned into a very special couple of days. We were also helped by the arrival of the sun, which meant we could have cocktails on the terrace when we arrived.

The beds were as big and luxurious as I remembered – pictured below is their most basic room, which was nonetheless wonderful – and even the toilets were lovely.

One of my favourite things about Hurley House is that once you’re there, you don’t have to leave it. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and there’s a bar and restaurant with the aforementioned amazing food, so you don’t have to go outside unless you want to.

Dinner options change from time to time, and they’ve recently introduced a new chef, which made me a bit nervous when I booked it because the previous one had been so good. I needn’t have worried: the new one is fantastic too. I had some kind of wonderful beetroot starter, followed by a pigeon wellington. Brunch in the morning also deserves a shoutout for presentation and quality.

Also imperative is the wine selection, especially for a wine snob like me, but there’s nothing to fear here either: their wine list is extensive, and their in-house sommelier is knowledgeable and happy to help you choose something that suits your taste and your budget. Two of us managed to get through this over dinner (OK, it was mainly me) and it was very nice.

Since it was a special occasion we booked the snug, which is a little cordoned-off area at the back of the dining room, hidden behind some bookshelves. They let us decorate it too, in keeping with our friend’s love of teacups and lace.

They even handmade these marshmallows and Earl Grey chocolates, which were amazing and a perfect way to end the evening. We didn’t order these; they just brought them out as a bonus surprise.

In the morning I woke up to sunlight filtering softly through the curtains, feeling relaxed and happy and ready for a day out in nearby Henley-on-Thames, which I would also recommend.

Now I’ve reminded myself how wonderful it is I’m going to have to book myself in again…

What’s your favourite place for a weekend hotel break?

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