Hertfordshire has its fair share of top hotels. The country piles of its former well to do families are ideal for luxury hotel conversions and Sopwell House in St. Albans has long been a favourite particularly as a wedding venue. With the recent refurb of its Mews Suites at Sopwell House, Andy Mossack discovers what is going on behind the gates.
You can’t help feeling a little superior staying at The Mews Suites at Sopwell House. After all, you have your very own gated access right opposite the Sopwell House main reception entrance and your very own landscaped garden and hot pool, only shared among your fellow Mews residents. And then there’s the Mews suites; private one bed townhouse style living with separate lounges cosy gas fired fireplaces and luxury bathrooms.
Some are duplex, some have kitchenettes and some have outdoor courtyards with a private hot tub. But all of them are classy, comfortable living spaces offering an extra level of privacy that staying in the main hotel just can’t provide.
I have the Magnolia suite, which, once I navigate the steep stairs, opens out into a very comfortable apartment with a generous flat screen TV above the gas fired faux log fireplace and furnished with a deep comfy settee and armchair. I’m pleasantly surprised to discover a Nespresso coffee machine and a REVO sound system tucked away in a corner nook.
The king size bed dominates the bedroom which hosts another flat screen TV, whilst the bathroom boasts a wonderful rain forest walk in shower, a separate bath tub and Espa toiletries.
Sopwell House has an impressive spa and pool so it is well worth donning my fluffy robe, opening the gates and walking across to the main hotel try it out. Over here there is a distinct robe community. A very relaxed way to wander around in your fluffy robe taking in a treatment or two, going for a swim, and then relaxing in the conservatory lounge for a coffee or a bite.
The 15 metre heated pool is impressive, and I take the opportunity for a steam and sauna too before reluctantly dragging myself away to get changed for dinner.
There are two restaurants at Sopwell House, an informal buffet style brasserie and the two AA Rosette Restaurant which at just £35 for three courses promises very good value.
After an intriguing Flertini cocktail, made up of champagne, strawberries and pineapple I join a busy set of diners for dinner. A very capable goats cheese and beetroot salad is followed by an excellent fillet of Angus beef with fondant potatoes, asparagus and spring onions. An equally succulent Stone Bass fillet with cauliflower, salsify and red wine jus proves just as satisfying for my dining partner.
I make friends with a group of German guests on the table next to me as we compare dishes. We all agree the food and service is very good, which it is, but the large decanter of red in the centre of their table which has impressively diminished in quantity, helps their judgement no end.
A coconut Panna Cotta with compressed water melon and lime gel is a spectacular way to end a great meal and I manage to find my way back to Magnolia and navigate the stairs on a high.
The Mews Suites at Sopwell House certainly offer a higher degree of privacy and comfort and the gated courtyard entrance is a very good touch. It is, dare I say it, almost like I was back as one of those well to do owners of this Hertfordshire country pile.
Almost but not quite.
Food images (c) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about the Mews Suites at Sopwell House
Sopwell House, Cottonmill Lane, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 2HQ
T: 01727 864477
Mews Suites start from £244 per night including breakfast.
The Restaurant is also open for lunch Wednesday – Friday: 12.30pm – 2.30pm
Sunday: 12.30pm – 3.00pm
Two Course Set Menu: £19.50 per person
Three Course Set Menu: £23.50 per person