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Down Hall, Bishop's Stortford, Essex
Set within an old country estate ideal for country walks, the Italianate Down Hall feels rural and secluded despite being just 20 minutes away from Stansted airport. There's an older portion of the building, with a newer wing added in recent years. Facilities are quite varied, including a spa, children's playground and jogging trail. As well as the restaurant, there's a new swish cocktail bar, and you can enjoy traditional afternoon tea in the large lounge, with décor and soft furnishings in warm reds and golds. Guest rooms are spacious and comfortable and traditionally furnished. Room rates can be surprisingly low for what's offered.
While being relatively near London and Stansted airport, you still feel pretty deep in the countryside.
On the Essex/Hertfordshire border, you're a 20-minute drive from Hatfield Forest and Mountfitchet Castle.
By car: under an hour from Cambridge, an hour from London and 2 hours 30 minutes from Birmingham. Free parking on-site.
By train: London Liverpool Street to Harlow Town takes 20 minutes. The hotel is a 20-minute taxi ride. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
Leisure and business guests of all ages wanting a good range of facilities and pleasant surroundings but without very deep pockets will enjoy it here. The recently updated cocktail bar is very swish and smart, with a wall of backlit bottles, with funky artworks on rich, dark blue walls.
Service & Facilities
The large grounds are certainly a boon, although it is a pity a map of four walking trails was tiny.
- Fitness centre
- Tennis courts
- Free parking
- Free Wi-Fi
Rooms available for pets (£20 per night) include a water bowl, dog bed and treat box.
Rooms are large and light. Our room had big windows looking out onto the attractive parkland grounds.
Classic, Executive, Prestige, Feature, Deluxe, Mansion House Suite, Master Suite
Facilities include: ensuite bathroom with toiletries, tea and coffee facilities, mini fridge, safe, TV, free Wi-Fi
Food & Drink
The afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and cakes and the option of Prosecco was suitably traditional, and the lounge it is served in is large and quite regal. The avocado on sourdough at breakfast was tasty.
Garden Room: fine dining restaurant, seasonal ingredients, modern British cuisine. Open daily for dinner.
The Terrace: outdoor dining and bar, comfy furniture. Dishes include sharing plates, pizzas and salads. Open daily for lunch and dinner (weather permitting).