Muddy revisits Rushton Hall…
A mini break at a 4 Star gem of a venue can cost as much as a night on the tiles and the hangover's easier too!
As someone who hits the town very infrequently these days, when I do, I’m often left open mouthed at the price tag (those £12 cocktails and Uber/taxi rides rack up you know). So it got me to thinking…Rushton Hall is just thirty minutes from Northampton town centre and there are some fantastic B&B with dinner deals. Maybe this option would appeal to readers like me, who, now and again want a more luxurious, calmer (quieter ; ) night out (it really does feel like you’re in the heart of the countryside too)! Reckon it’s worth swapping out a night on the tiles to be lady of the manor? Read on…
I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at Rushton Hall before, here’s a full review here, but I wanted to revisit and see how it’s fairing (although I can’t see two years making much of a difference when it’s stood there for hundreds of them ; ) If you love your history, it’s coming out of the brickwork at this 16th Century, Grade I Listed building. Francis Tresham (a previous owner) had involvement in the Gunpowder plot and Charles Dickens is believed to have visited many times (one of the rooms in the hotel is said to have inspired Miss Havisham’s famous room in Great Expectations).
As you’d expect, it still has many of its original features (loads actually), including various beautiful staircases and The Great Hall. I really can’t believe what good nick this place is in, it’s even better than I remember. Lots of old hotels feel like they’re more shabby than chic, but not Rushton Hall. It has a grand but very luxe vibe, which is why so many people choose it for their wedding I guess!
Surprisingly friendly and not as overly formal as you may think. I hear that some people are put off by the threat of airs and graces being bounded around, but it really isn’t like that. With all that history permeating every corridor and nook and cranny, it’s actually a very calm place from which to base yourself. There’s a small bar in the Great Hall and you can have lunch there or afternoon tea. It’s really beautiful, and restful actually, and there were a few different groups of ladies that lunch all looking chatty and content when we visited. At 4ish and wondering whether dinner was too far off at 9pm, we plumped for a round of sandwiches in the Great Hall and an absolutely glorious glass of Pinot Noir (less than £8 too, which isn’t bad considering your surroundings). The atmosphere isn’t bouncing with clinking glasses and sing-song, but you don’t have to talk in hushed whispers either.
Wanting to be a little bit active with the impending meals later, we tottered off outside. The grounds are a glorious place for a stroll and I loved the hotel even more for having that space; plus it makes it an ideal location for an amble on your romantic weekend away.
There’s generally a wedding on at the weekends, but now it has the STUNNING Orangery, guests sometimes mill about, but the festivities are elsewhere.
To steal from my previous review, I realise that I am very lucky, because as a journalist who is writing a review, I’m unlikely to be given the pokiest room in the house, but AGAIN this was above and beyond, even this old hacks’, wildest expectations.
It was a suite of gargantuan proportions (the third pic below is a separate lounge which we didn’t even use). It had a King size 5″ four poster bed, Large flat screen TV and WI-FI and lounge area with sofas that can be converted to sofabeds if you need them (we didn’t argue, so all good). It really was beautiful. The ceiling was magnificent and Plus One declared that he’d never stayed in a room quite like it.
The bathroom had a roll top bath, separate shower and a bathroom TV which doubled as a mirror, eeek. Also…now wait for it; the toiletries were actual PENHALIGON’S (which Plus One adores. So I’d just like to make a public declaration to Rushton Hall that the only reason even one bottle of conditioner was left is because I made him – he has two Penhaligon aftershaves – big fan)!
Aside from the room, the little attentions to detail (like lovely boxes for the hairdryer etc.) were really personal and it just had a lovely feel.
Scoff & Quaff
I mentioned in my last review that I don’t always rate hotel food, but Rushton hall has it nailed. From the delicious tuna sandwich at lunch through to a beautiful dinner, I couldn’t fault the scoff. We dined in 1593 Brasserie, but there’s also the Tresham, fine dining restaurant. We kicked off the meal with feta and mediterranean vegetables and breads with souffled flavoured butter (LOVE a flavoured butter).
I’m not a huge volume eater. I LOVE food and the flavours but three courses is sometimes a stretch too far (depending on portion size). Rather gallantly, Plus One generally shares a starter with me, and as is quite typical of us, we chose seafood. The char grilled garlic prawns were huge and beautifully cooked and didn’t fill me up too much for my hake, which was flavoursome and moist (I know, sorry). I knew Plus One would go for the belly pork which was rich, but not overly so, and it kept him quiet for a full five minutes (I tasted it, it was like a cassoulet, v yum). After two clean plates we congratulated ourselves with the honeycomb and berry pudding, which was just the right amount of crispness and lightness and then we washed the lot down with a bottle of Pinot Noir (the one we’d sampled at lunch)!
Not to rush on to more food, but the breakfast was also really good quality. There’s a continental station with everything you need (including some very tasty granola and lots of seeds and prunes), and various options of coffees and milks. Ordering from the menu I had kippers while Plus One had the full English; both were delicious and not too huge as to overface you. It was busy at breakfast with the wedding party, but no bother at all to get a table.
Bravo Rushton Hall
I’ve said it before, but Rushton Hall Hotel, for all its grandeur, is really a place to feel very chilled out and relaxed, I didn’t spa it this time, but read the last review here (the Stableyard Spa has a really lovely swimming pool area, indoor and outdoor spa pools, steam room, sauna and fitness suite as well as a number of beauty rooms). The hotel is a romantic setting for weddings, perfect for a day out with the girls, a great venue for conferences and business shizzle, but also, it’s a beautiful little bolt hole for when you just want to get away. It’s not the same as a night on the town, but we felt like it was the night we needed, rather than the queing at the bars and bun fight for a taxi (getting old, moi?). Places like this make Northants a county to visit, rather than just a county to pass through, and I’d certainly travel over an hour or two to visit. Aside from everything I’ve written above, I also applaud the staff here for everything they do. Nothing was too much trouble and they were all super friendly. On check out we were given two bottles of water for our journey and waved on our way with a smile and a departing message to please visit again. And you know what, I think we will.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Those who like grand surroundings but unpretentious service, those who fancy a getaway without a slog of a drive. Also for foodies, spa and nature lovers.
Not for: Ravers, DJs or anyone looking for some banging house tunes. I’m sure Rushton Hall has seen its fair share of parties, but generally the mood is more relaxed and chill. Nothing to say you can’t hire the lot out and mosh up with some Old Skool tuneage though (hmmmm, there’s a Muddy feature idea)!
£££: Overnight stay in a classic double bedroom for only £220 for 2 including 3 course dinner in 1593 Brasserie, full english breakfast & use of the Spa facilities (bearing in mind dinner would be £110 anyway, I reckon that’s money well spent). Mid week there are often deals that practically beg you to take sanctuary and unwind surrounded by 25 acres of countryside, lake and ancient trees. Go, go, go!!!
Rushton Hall, Rushton, Northamptonshire NN14 1RR, 01536 713001. firstname.lastname@example.org