With autumn fast approaching there is no better time for an English country getaway and what better way to spend the weekend than in a small-run, boutique hotel surrounded by rolling hills. Fishmore Hall is a modest luxury hotel in the Shropshire countryside where our lifestyle writer Kayleigh Lavery went to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Only moments from the foodie haven of Ludlow, Fishmore Hall is a stunning Georgian building which has been superbly converted from a derelict school to a 15-room boutique hotel. The hotel is a contender in the fine food stakes and lies about a mile from Ludlow castle and the town’s market place. (When we arrived, the town was preparing for the annual Food Festival which attracts over 20,000 people over the three-day weekend.)
When you enter Fishmore Hall, there is no frantic hotel reception but a quiet desk in the bright open plan downstairs where you can take in the bar and restaurant. A lounge to the left is a quiet, relaxing space to wind down with a drink or to cosy up with a book when the weather takes a turn for the worst. For spa-lovers, NSpa is a treatment cabin in the grounds of Fishmore Hall, which offers exactly the same treatments as their award-winning salon in Ludlow town centre.
All the rooms are individually decorated with modern touches. Room number four is spacious enough to be a suite and the bed itself could sleep a whole family. The journey’s effort was washed away in the supersized bath tub with complimentary Molton Brown soaps and the walk-in shower makes it no problem getting out of bed when your alarm starts ringing. Huge sash windows offer views of the countryside as well as the hotel’s beautiful well-kept garden.
The food at Forelles restaurant at Fishmore Hall was the highlight of the stay. Head chef Andrew Birch – whose accolades include Young Chef Apprentice of Britain in 2005 and Young Chef Apprentice of Europe in 2005 – has created a menu that centres on the area’s local produce. The three-course menu is priced at £49.00 per person, but the price tag is justified by the fresh expensive ingredients used and the amazing little extras; there are pre-dinner nibbles to enjoy as well as delicious amuse bouches and pre-desserts, all compliments of the chef. Forelles also offers a six-course and nine-course tasting menu for those wanting to sample a broader range of Andrew’s dishes in a single sitting.
The restaurant extends into a conservatory come orangery room, where the tall glassed rooftop and endless windows make for a beautiful dinner setting. The meal moved at a good pace, and plates were whisked away by the attentive and friendly staff. (Ott, one of the members of staff, was particularly welcoming and from serving us drinks in the bar pre-dinner through to dinner and breakfast the following morning, he made the whole dining experience at Fishmore Hall second-to-none.) The centre piece of the meal was the main course: a tasting of Shopshire lamb. The succulent meat was served four-ways with confit potato and spinach and was some of the best lamb we’ve ever tasted.
The breakfast too was exceptional – instead of the usual hotel buffet business, there is a table with fresh pastries and cereals, seeds, fruits and compotes to create-your-own muesli and all hot food is ordered from the menu. However you like your eggs – atop a muffin with salmon or ham, scrambled on toast or whisked up into an omelette – or if you choose traditional porridge with a cheeky splash of whisky or brown sugar glaze, everything comes piping hot from the kitchen.
For those seeking a relaxing, quiet retreat to the countryside, Fishmore Hall is the answer. The grounds, lounging areas and spacious suites are perfect for winding down and the delicious food is exactly what you need after a long day exploring the historic town and countryside.
For more information or to make a reservation, visit Fishmore Hall’s website.