IT was a wet and windy Friday afternoon when my wife and I arrived at Rushton Hall, right in the midst of the recent series of storms, but it is certainly a sight for sore eyes.
Tucked away in a quiet corner of rural Northamptonshire, close to the town of Desborough, the magnificent facade of the historic building, a family home at the centre of a private estate for centuries, does little to give away the building’s current use as a luxury hotel and Spa.
It is as massive as it is magnificent. And walking through its modern glass doors into a long corridor feels like a step into a world of luxury and opulence. A world away from the chaos of the high winds and torrential rain we had just left behind.
From the reception area we were led back through the corridor and through a rambling route that felt like a tour of the building to reach our room.
Rushton Hall is built around a massive central courtyard, which means the each section of the building is one long series of rooms, or one great corridor linking up to make a huge square.
It means, without crossing the courtyard, each part of the hotel takes quite a walk to get to. Especially, in our case, the stable building, which sits off one of the main wings and also houses the hotel’s spa facilities.
Although it was a long walk to our room it was far less confusing than we first thought.
We’d not noticed on the way in, but there are plenty of signs pointing you in the direction of the restaurants, rooms and other facilities, as well as the rooms which, in our case, were named after the horses that once lived in the huge stable block.
‘Whistlejack’ was stunning. A good size with a large bathroom, big, comfy bed and all the facilities we needed for a night away. It was clean and comfortable and, although the views out of both our windows only extended as far as a slate roof, the heating was provided by an air conditioning unit - which meant it was easy to regulate the temperature.
Wandering back to the bar for some pre-dinner drinks, we had time to drink in the changing surroundings as we made our way from the more modern theme of the stable block to the unmistakable hsitoric interior of the main house.
Corridors narrowed and widened and antique furniture and ornaments were round every corner, all of which led to a grand stair case as we approached the lounge and restaurant.
Rushton Hall’s current owners bought the house in 2003 and restored it from what had been a private school to the award-winning luxury hotel, spa and conference facility it is today.
They’ve done a wonderful job of balancing the requirements of the modern hotel guests with the retention of the building’s stunning period features and charm.
It feels every bit the stately home it always has been, but it’s warm and clean and well maintained at the same time.
While the area around our room felt quiet and almost isolated, by comparison the lounge area was bustling. It’s a huge room with giant windows and an extremely high ceiling with ornate chandeliers, decorations and paintings and tapestries dotted around.
We tucked into some olives and a local beer while we perused the menu. The recommendation of the evening was the pork, which sounded good to me.
And it was. The meal was as beautifully presented as the cosy, wood-panelled restaurant we were sat in.
A waitress helped us into the large, comfortable chairs and talked us through the finer points of each course. She struck a perfect balance between formal service and down-to-earth hospitality.
In fact, all the service we received was first class. Everyone was warm and friendly and as willing to share a joke with you as they were to ensure your glass never empty.
We slept well and breakfast was another treat. Refreshingly, there was a lighter choice for those who prefer our ‘full English’ not so ‘full’ first thing in the morning and the highlight of the meal, if not the highlight of the stay, was the black pudding.
My wife ordered smoked salmon, which was one of quite a few alternatives, along with the usual cereals and pastries.
Before we set off to explore the local area I took a walk round the hotel’s grounds, which are almost as stunning as the building itself.
Its mature trees and large lawns are full of wildlife which was relishing in the calm winter’s day that followed such a rotten night.
From outside the imposing walls of the enormous hotel are even more stunning in the day and its unspoilt interior, with 45 rooms, wedding and conference facilities and a relaxing spa mean the inside is every bit as lovely as the outside.
In many ways, taking into account all the factors, I’d not hesitate to say it’s one of the best hotels in the Midlands. And I’d definitely recommend it.
Rushton Hall Hotel & Spa is in Desborough Road, Rushton, Northamptonshire
To find out more visit www.rushtonhall.com, call 01536 713 001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org