A little way outside of Solihull In the prosperous village of Hampton-in-Arden sits boutique hotel Hampton Manor. With a remarkably good Michelin starred restaurant, and a team of tweed-clad staff who run the operation with enormous enthusiasm, Hampton Manor could well be the best place to stay in the West Midlands.
Once owned by Sir Robert Peel and set in 45 acres of manicured grounds and woodland, Hampton Manor is ideally located for visiting Solihull and Stratford-upon-Avon. The NEC and Birmingham Airport are also just a ten minute drive. But this hotel is far from the hustle and bustle of city life in Birmingham – quite the opposite, it brings gentility to the second city.
Family owned, the hotel has been faithfully refurbished and restored to modern sensitivities. Décor is heavy on the purple and green theme, but in rooms such as the parlour and Peel’s Restaurant it’s done in very good taste. The people here are a real asset, I haven’t before encountered hospitality staff so young who appear so invested in the place they work. Hampton Manor should be top of your list of places to stay if visiting the local area, but it is also a legitimately good option for a destination mini break being just an hour and a half from London.
We stayed in the George Fentham room, one of the hotel’s suites. An enormous high-ceilinged room with a large sitting area, it had bay windows that looked out over the lawns outside. The bright bathroom is complete with a roll-top freestanding tub, separate monsoon shower and heated floors. Décor was in shades of midnight blue, grey, and fuchsia, perhaps a bold choice but it was carried off well. Blankets, books, and home baked gooey chocolate chip cookies were a welcoming homely touch.
Hampton Manor’s 4 AA rosette, Michelin starred Peel’s Restaurant is a reason to visit in itself. It inhabits the original dining room of the manor, a wood panelled space now finished with elegant Fromental wallpaper. Service is wonderful, with attentive waiters and a sommelier whose explanations of the wine flight left us well informed without ever being obtrusive. Food is either a la carte, or from four or seven course tasting menus. Head Chef Rob Palmer’s cooking is uncomplicated fine dining, with bold, confident flavour.
We opted for the four course menu. Bread was served with hand churned butter and Wagyu beef dripping. Proper beef dripping, what a treat. Amuse bouche of potato and chive puree preceded the first starter of heritage tomatoes. I would never have picked this, but it was one of the stand out dishes of the evening; six or seven different varieties of tomato were prepared in different ways, some raw and some lightly cooked. Accompanied by burrata and crispy bread crumbs, an addition of lovage oil tied it together perfectly. Following this was trout with dill, cucumber and caviar. A well balanced dish of cured trout that will please all fans of smoked fish.
Pre-main of Wagyu beef bonbon with pea puree was good, followed by the main event – Wagyu beef fillet with artichoke puree, mushroom ketchup, and parsley. Tremendous cooking demonstrated here, with beef rendered buttery and tender. A pre-dessert of airy passionfruit and white chocolate mousse came before an apple and blackberry deconstructed cheesecake.
With just 28 covers, the candlelit room is full of romance and offers brilliant cooking in a gorgeously intimate setting.
The friend that I visited with lived in Birmingham for two years and reliably informed me there isn’t a hotel up to the same high standard in the area. I can well believe it; Hampton Manor had a great vibe about it, and has bags of potential. Run by staff who clearly love and care about what they do, and with plans for a full service spa and additional bedrooms, this is a hotel that’s achieving great things and has greater things to come.
Trains from London Euston to Hampton-in-Arden take a little under two hours, from there it’s less than a five minute walk to the hotel.
Double rooms from £160 a night, on a room only basis.