Driving along the lengthy grand entrance towards the historic mansion immediately radiates grandeur and harks back to a time of aristocratic indulgence. This feeling is cemented once the astonishingly beautiful house appears from behind the autumn trees and presents itself in the grandest of ways. Downton Abbey springs to mind when entering the impressive house; opulent interiors, ornate ceilings and an abundance of natural daylight make Down Hall Country House Hotel an experience like no other.
As many of Britain’s treasured historic houses, Down Hall has a rich and interesting history that adds to the charm of the building. Built in 1322 the house was believed to have been given to Hatfield Broad Oak Priory by Robert Taper. From then on it was a monastic possession farmed by lay tenants on behalf of the Priory. Skipping forward to 154o Down Hall was sold by Henry VIII to William Glascock, who was probably responsible for giving the house its Tudor appearance. Throughout the years Down Hall has passed hands through many families until 1914-1918 when it became a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. The current owner Horace Calverley, died in 1929 and by then it was inevitable that Down Hall would be sold- the heyday of the country house was over; the majorities would go on to become institutions rather than family residences. Down Hall then became a school in the 1932 and continued into the 1960s. In 1967 a new type of modern institution took over- Down Hall became an Antiques Business and Conference centre right up until 1986 when it was purchased by the Veladail Group, who continue to operate Down Hall as a country house hotel.
Throughout Down Hall’s long life it has seen many people pass through and the stories that lie in these walls are priceless and deserve to be preserved in a way for all to enjoy. Veladail Group appreciate this and have announced a £6 million refurbishment plan due for completion in mid-2016. Work has already begun on the project which will see 100 bedrooms renovated alongside new spa treatment rooms and a modernised kitchen. More than half of the bedrooms are now finished, decorated sympathetically in traditional heritage and colours with bright accents; classic country house meets contemporary chic. The kitchen has been completely refitted with modern catering equipment designed to help Head Chef Matthew Hill and his team deliver exquisite cuisine for weddings, parties and conferences as well as benefit Down Hall’s award winning restaurant, The Grill Room. On our visit to Down Hall, House of Coco dined at The Grill Room for Sunday lunch and it was simply divine; the location, the friendly staff and the food were as you would expect and more from such a grand hotel.
The next stage of the refurbishment will take place in stages with rooms becoming completed floor by floors to ensure the hotel remains operational. Rooms that will be restored to their former architectural glory include eight feature rooms and a new bridal suite. Classic rooms have a simple elegance with feature wall panelling and delicately patterned wallpaper.
As previously mentioned, Down Hall now has the new Eden Spa which has just been completed- something that House of Coco are incredibly excited about. The spa will provide a unique experience with ultra-modern facilities, including a hydrotherapy pool, a mod-lit sauna with full height timber cladding and tiered seating, a state of the art steam room with starry night feature lighting as well as a wellness power shower. Four brand new treatments rooms, three single and one double, will be filled with ESPA natural skin and spa products for luxury facials and body treatments.
Andrew Oxley, general manager of Down Hall comments, “Huge investment is being made to develop both our leisure and corporate facilities to reinforce our position as a four star superior hotel. The combination of experience staff and premium products and therapeutic treatments will ensure guests are provided with a first rate leisure experience.”