Muddy stays: The Old House B&B
The low down
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…if it’s good enough for Vogue (and in this instance Sawday’s and GQ), it’s good enough for me! As you know, I love our fair shire, but I’ve never found it can compete with neighbouring counties in the hotel and B&B sector. I’m happy to be proven wrong though reader, so if you know of some lovely little gems like this one which I stumbled upon on a trip to Higham Ferrers, do let me know. Dating back to circa 1580, The Old House was once the home of the Merchant who collected the trader’s dues on the medieval Market Square. Today, it’s quite the boutique B&B experience. Homely enough to appeal to a wide audience, quirky enough to have that ‘little bit of London’ vibe.
It’s a cracking medieval building and it felt weird but wonderful sleeping in a place so old (the barmaid at one of the local pubs told us all about it being haunted. Just before we left to go to bed. Nice). There are a choice of five luxurious en-suite bedrooms, all individually styled with superbly comfy beds, Bramley organic toiletries, Hildon English bottled water, free WiFi and TV, DVD, and Radio, wine glasses and corkscrew (we’ve stayed a number of times and the corkscrew came in very handy when I thought I’d picked up a screw top from the off-licence. Oops)!
We’ve seen three of the bedrooms and loved them all – sumptuous, outrageously clean and all with quirky, individual decor (never thought of mixing pineapple with leopard print? You’ve never lived ; )
There’s a lovely lounge too, perfect for a wee dram of whisky after dinner at the local pub!
Higham Ferrers itself, although small, offers a range of pubs, indie shops and and a couple of restaurants (we plumped for a takeaway Chinese. The salt and chilli king prawns were DELISH). It’s really quite quaint and often has beer festivals and the like on at The Green Dragon. The owners of The Old house, Simon and William, are super friendly and nothing is too much trouble; easy check in, suggestions for places to eat (or not to eat), and a general chit chat about the area.
The prices of the rooms range between a staggeringly reasonable £65 to a still rather sterling £85 per night. I’ve paid more for a Travel Lodge! I really can’t think of any reason you won’t enjoy The Old House, maybe you might need to ask for the heating to be turned up higher in the winter, but it’s to be expected in a house that old. I think this boutique B&B is a huge asset to the Northants hospitality scene, which I think is slowly but surely improving (I’m off to The Swallow’s Rest in Brigstock shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for that review)!
The pretty courtyard is perfect to enjoy a wine in the sun or even have your breakfast al fresco, they do a marvellously good English!
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: People who like quirky and embrace individuality! If you’ve got picky in-laws or City slicker friends visiting for the weekend and can’t/won’t put them up chez vous, this would be an impressive choice. Or if you’re having a special birthday or anniversary meal in Higham, you could upgrade your evening and stay over afterwards (rather a 10 sec stumble home than a long taxi ride, right?).
Not for: Anyone wanting a hotel experience with an in-house restaurant or bar.
The damage: Bed and breakfast including that amazing fry-up is from £60 to £80 – very reasonable given the quality of the rooms, and service. I would go now before they hoik the prices up when Stanton Cross at Wellingborough is finished and all the Londoners make a break to Northants for the weekend.