When I think about Berkshire I am immediately transported to a luxurious daytime party in Marlowe or, more famously, The Henley Regatta – a scene of many a bottle of prosecco and merriment. A place that holds such memories is a place that is so welcomed and I was delighted to be exploring one of the areas new ‘up and comers’. Having launched in August 2016, Hurley House Hotel is still very much a baby. However, small and infantile it is not. Situated on the site of an old pub named the ‘Red Lion’, Hurley House is a stones throw from the M4, yet still surrounded by horses and green fields – the true beauty of Berkshire.
“Welcome and just relax”. The single phrase that is enough to make anyone breath a sigh of relief were the first words that passed the reception staff’s lips on our arrival. Led through a bright and spacious corridor we arrived at our room. Boasting 10 boutique rooms, Hurley House has the sense of exclusivity which ensures it doesn’t disrupt the charm of the interiors – a mistake that many hotels seem to make. With a country-living feel, the decor was neutral and had an enviable palate of greys, creams and browns. We stayed in a Superior Room which benefited from its own private outdoor patio of rather large size. Unfortunately the grim and grey weather of a February day in the UK mean’t that we weren’t able to experience it to its full potential. However, on a summers evening with a glass of wine in hand, the patio would make the perfect addition to a stay.
As returning readers of Belle, you will be privy to the fact that I adore a good bath. Baths are after all, a drop of luxurious bubbly heaven. Our room opened up (with double doors) to the most glorious bathroom with a freestanding bath, separate shower and warm fluffy towels. A bath truly does make a stay luxurious to me and I was delighted to be able to enjoy a spacious bathroom. With underfloor heating, the rooms are cosy and homely. However, they do get quite warm so be sure to adjust the heating slightly before you wind down for the evening. The room had an exquisite and extensive selection of goodies including branded M&M’s and chocolate bars as well as the usual tea and coffee. The bed was large and ultra-comfortable with heaven-like cotton bed linen and a flat screen TV that links directly to your phone. Perfect for some late night Netflix.
The bar and restaurant area itself is outstanding. Lined with bottles and bottles of wine the corridor adjacent to the restaurant is one that exists in a wine lovers dream. In fact, Hurley House has a selection of over 130 bottles which have been personally selected from independent vineyards from France, Greece, Argentina and Lebanon. Each wine has extensive tasting notes and range from £20 to £280 – perfect for almost anyones tastes and budget.
Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, the bar area was busy with customers from the local area. A baby shower to our right and a family on their way home from a dog walk on our left proved that Hurley House has truly made its mark with the local community – a feat considering the amount of competition in the area. Enjoying a glass of wine and a pint of local ale, we spent the majority of our afternoon tucked away on the leather sofas complete with a woolen blanket. The interiors are fantastically modern however have been careful not to stray too far away from its roots. Key features including exposed wooden beams, brickworks, granite, limestone and oak create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The combination of rustic furniture, fresh flowers and low-level lighting really does make the hotel a wonderful and splendid place to spend an evening.
For the foodies among us, at Hurley House you are completely at mercy of the talented chef Michael Chapman (formerly head chef of Michelin-Starred The Royal Oak at Paley Street). Everything that passes Chapman’s stove is of perfection. With a menu constantly evolving to keep up with the seasons, the restaurant uses locally-sourced ingredients from Berkshire’s top producers and farmers. The portions, though small, are packed full of flavour and a delight to everyones palette. Enjoying Fillet of Herefordshire Beef and Lamb we embarked on a second-to-none and decadent tasting journey. Alongside the delicious food was remarkable and excellent service. From our first arrival and bar service to dinner service and breakfast service the next morning the attention to detail of the staff was so highly appreciated.
Hurley House has certainly been added to our list of places to return to and with only a short train journey to London, this boutique hotel in the heart of Berkshire is perfect for the city worker and country bumpkin alike.