Thursday, 14 March 2019

5 hotels for spring flowers in South East England

Montagu Arms Hotel


Shake off winter with a stay at one of these five hotels that really start to flourish come spring. They each offer an uplifting display of springtime flowers alongside the elements the Good Hotel Guide champions as the real key ingredients of a memorable stay: character, good food and an outstanding welcome.

Whether you go dotty for daffodils or weak at the knees for wisteria, you’ll find a hotel in south east England to put a spring in your step this season.

Gravetye Manor


1. Gravetye Manor, Sussex

Every aspect of this recently spruced-up Elizabethan manor house is remarkable, but the springtime gardens deserve a special mention. Considered among the most important historical gardens in England, in spring the orchards cloud with blossom and the meadows shimmer through a rainbow of flora; March daffodils and sky blue Scilla give way to April’s wild tulips followed by a Pollock-esque display of native wild flowers in May. Fortunately, the restaurant, which hosts Michelin-starred chef George Blogg’s exquisite dishes (orchard and kitchen garden produce feature heavily) has floor-to-ceiling glass walls that open on to a garden patio so you can continue to feast your eyes on the springtime display – until you slip into slumber on a four-poster bed in your cosy bedroom. 

Cliveden House lunch


2. Cliveden House, Berkshire

Set amid magnificent National Trust grounds that run down to the River Thames, this luxury hotel has a racy past, both aristocratic and political. The sublime hotel, in a 17th-century stately home, is surrounded by exquisite National Trust gardens. New for 2019 is The Gilded Gardens of Cliveden featuring hundreds of thousands of daffodils – including 57 new varieties planted for this year – cascading from the Sounding Chamber, whose glimmering gates have been newly re-gilded with 23¾ carat gold leaf. (There’s a £10 charge for guests to visit the National Trust gardens; free for NT members.) For extra springtime vibes, stay in Spring Cottage (the name arises from a waterier kind of spring, but never mind!).

3. Montagu Arms Hotel, Hampshire 

While trusted Guide readers describe the Montagu Arms Hotel’s own gardens as ‘most attractive’, it’s nearby Exbury Gardens that really make a splash in spring. The garden’s daffodil meadow flutters down to the Beaulieu River, while the woodland puts on an outrageous show of colour with large-leafed rhododendrons, magnolias, azaleas and wisteria. Back at the Montagu Arms, make the most of the springtime weather in the garden’s comfy sitting-out areas, dine in the restaurant – it uses produce from the hotel’s organic kitchen garden – and sleep it off in a four-poster or half-tester bed in one of the characterful bedrooms. Montagu Arms’ Spring Indulgence Break Special Offer should lend some extra sparkle to the season, too! 

Hartwell House


4. Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire 

As you might expect for a Jacobean mansion that was once the palatial refuge of the exiled Louis XVIII, Hartwell House is fit for a king – inside and out. Public rooms are filled with antiques, oil paintings and flowers, while suites are lavish and bedrooms spacious, supplied with freshly baked biscuits. The 90-acre grounds, like the house, are maintained by Historic House Hotels on behalf of the National Trust in high style. Don’t miss the spring garden, planted with 10,000 daffodils; the sight and scent of the orchard’s blossoming trees is balm for winter-weary souls, too.

The Milk House


5. The Milk House, Kent 

It was tough to choose only one springtime display in Kent, the Garden of England, but The Milk House just nudged out the competition. This pub-with-rooms has a dairy theme and creamy palette that feel especially fresh in spring, with flowers in milk pails and a sunny terrace that’s starting to come into seasonal use. The kitchen’s creative, modern plates use fresh seasonal produce sourced from a 20-mile radius and are just the thing to refuel on after the 20-minute walk from nearby Sissinghurst Castle Garden, one of the most famous gardens in England. Work up even more of an appetite with a stroll along Sissinghurst’s Lime Walk, which bursts into colour for four weeks every spring with tulips, hyacinths and fritillaries.

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