Hotel review: The Olde Bell Inn, Hurley, Berkshire
Chocolate box, traditional English beauty. This stunning timber-framed building dates back to 1135 and is consequently steeped in history. When we arrived in the car park (smack-bang in between the main building and the converted barn out-buildings), there was a wedding being hosted there, which added to the magical atmosphere.
This place is perfect if you...
Are a Londoner and fancy an escape to the country. At just 45 minutes from central London and 20 minutes from Heathrow, it's the ideal spot for an out-of-town getaway. Otherwise, it would make a fabulous wedding or special occasion party venue.
Best rooms in the house
The property boasts 50 bedrooms, and five types of rooms in five different buildings. We stayed in a larger room in the Main Inn, which we accessed through a quaint and kooky tiny Alice in Wonderland door. Designed by Ilse Crawford, the bedroom spaces are earthy and minimal yet made cosy with melt-in-to mattresses, pure cotton sheets and English country materials like reed matting and homemade blankets. The beauty of the rooms is that olde worlde charm: nooks and crannies and big open fire places.
Where to eat
The restaurant and bar are the 'heartbeat' of this place. Head to to the bar for an informal feed (it has a comfy local-pub feel), or enjoy dinner in the main restaurant, where simple, rustic, full-of-flavour food is the order of the day. We devoured oysters, before tucking into flaky sea trout and mouth-watering treacle tart. The food is top-notch but is happily free from the formality and sometimes stuffiness of Michelin-starred haunts (and their hefty price tags!). In the summer, you can enjoy hog roasts and salad on the terrace, and there's a large kaki tented area at the end of the meadow garden for private dining. Guests and non-guests can also enjoy homemade picnics here.
Things to do, places to see...
In the summer, you can enjoy a game of boules or croquet in the garden, or take out one of the hotel's mountain bikes along the river. Away from the hotel, kids will love the Odds Farm Park (with its own heated play barn), and the Bekonscot Model Village. Adults will enjoy the nearby Savill Garden, walks in the Chiltern Hills or The Thames Path, or a trip back in time to Enid Blyton's old house.
Stay in Room 9 and take a dip in the free-standing bath overlooking the beautiful gardens (sipping on Champagne and watching the wall-mounted plasma TV while you do so not required - but recommended!).
The Olde Bell Inn, High Street, Hurley, Berkshire, SL6 5LX. Visit theoldebell.co.uk