Many an English drama sees a vintage vehicle swerving through tree-lined gravel to pull up outside a stately home with a flourish. Staying at Tylney Hall & Gardens allows you to make cinematic fantasy real.
You can continue in the central role, walking past oak-panelled staircases and fragrant rose gardens into a a relaxed and beautiful world where you’ve landed on the better side of the upstairs-downstairs divide from Downton Abbey.
As a hotel, Tylney offers plenty of space, spreading its 112 rooms and suites out across 66 acres, seven gardens, a orchard and a boating lake.
Part Oxbridge college, part stately home, its history sheds light on its character and indeed the events that have shaped England’s history over the last few centuries.
Built in 1700 on the site of a Mansion House from 1561, Tylney has passed through Viscounts and Earls, became a hospital during the First World War and served as a shipping line headquarters and school thereafter.
There is an aching question across the olde world about what to do with magnificent buildings like this. Should they be preserved as museums? Dressed up for corporate affairs? Or even turned into tropical gardens (check out the deliciously named ninfarium at Aberglasney, for example.)
Although there are critics, I love that some of these buildings have been converted into beautiful hotels. There is something to be said for waking up somewhere, sipping that orange juice and the sweet sting of pink grapefruit and looking through stone-edged windows across lawns that have kept manicurists in work for centuries.
It also helps to understand something of how England used to function and be governed. Staying in Tylney involves entering a delicious bubble world, far from the hubbub of the London, despite being only a short drive (one hour) from Westminster.
Small wonder the Lords in their manors lost touch with the real world.
But, for regular readers, this stay also marked out two other milestones.
The first was my first solo travel trip with baby, a short road trip across the UK, and first hot bath while on solo duty (the spacious bathroom allowed her to play safely and me to watch from the bubbles.)
And the second, was my first direct experience of the Best Loved Hotels brand.
Gathering together around 200 or so properties from the UK and Ireland, Best Loved Hotels showcase a wonderful mix of properties, from very modern boutiques to ancient castles, plus some with great features such as a cookery schools and spas. The criteria for membership is that the accommodation must offer more than just its facilities and services: there must be a personal “feeling” from the hotel and it should be “Best Loved” by it’s guests.
As it happened, I had already stayed at one of their other properties, the lovely Abbey Hotel in Bath.
Now, on to the traditional review.
Downton Abbey stately home with a dizzying array of gardens and one of the best views across Jane Austen’s Hampshire.
I stayed in room 12, a spacious room in the main building complete with bath, shower, wifi and warmth despite the stone walls. The room provides views over two different gardens, which is worth looking at for hours. Plus, I didn’t hear a soul. It was a calm, countryside retreat.
Set in its own grounds near Rotherwick in Hampshire, a one hour drive from London. You’ll need to drive along a few windy country roads to get here – but then that’s part of the charm.
We dined (Rosa and I!) at the Oak Room Restaurant, which, as you might expect wears panels upon panels of oak. We ate early but still managed to catch the live pianist and soak up the atmosphere of other diners. People come here for business meetings, birthdays, anniversaries and weddings and so there is quite an interesting mix. Plus, several members of staff seem to have worked here for decades and have plenty of stories to tell about the place.
The Oak Room served autumnal British classics, such as roast beef with wild mushrooms, watercress and truffles. Paranoid about dining with a baby (I needn’t have been) – I only ordered the one course. But I did have my eyes on the chocolate mousse with raspberry popping candy and the British cheese selection.
Afternoon Tea is also an event at the Tylney, served in the Italian or Grey Lounge or out on the terrace. Plus, the lounge and library look perfect for a late night whisky and putting the world to rights. But not with a baby, so I skipped that part ;-)
The gardens at Tylney Hall deserve a visit on their own merit and I could easily lose half a day wandering through them on a dry and sunny day. Staying as a guest allows you to make the most of sunset and sunrise when the light tickles the stone and warms the chestnut and lime trees around the grounds.
There is a spa here but it was closed for renovation while I stayed. The discreet outdoor pool was still available, though, for braver souls than I.
The view from the Hall is one of the longest uninterrupted vista in Hampshire, lined with Giant Redwoods and drifting off into the mist.
Staff couldn’t have been friendlier and the space in the room and gardens made life very easy indeed. Tylney Hall provided the cot/crib and highchair without fuss. With no elevator, I left the pushchair downstairs and staff were always quick to make it available when I was ready to go out.
Beautiful, relaxing countryside escape with a hint of vintage glamour and the fantasy of an easier life in the good old days.Book Now
We paid a reduced rate to visit and dine at Tylney Hall Hotel & Gardens for review purposes. As ever, as always, we kept the right to write what we like here on Inside the Travel Lab. Otherwise, there is just no point. Check out our other luxury hotel reviews and see.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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