Beds fit for a queen and views to take your breath away in the heart of Surrey
My boyfriend and I are still in disagreement about the best thing in our suite at the Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa. I think it was the bed. Seriously, I've never slept in one so huge. He thinks it was the 42" plasma TV. Clearly size matters, no matter what sex you are.
Set in rolling countryside with fabulous views across Sussex and Surrey, Nutfield Priory is a haunting mansion complete with gargoyles, winding staircases, roaring log fires, a well-stocked library and its very own haunted tower (actually, I don't know that it's haunted, but it looks like it should be). Despite the name, and the fact it was built back in 1872, nuns have never lived under its ornate roof, instead a rich businessman who'd always dreamt of living in a priory had it built to his exacting specifications; if you didn't know the truth, you'd never think to believe otherwise. Over the years it has played host to, among many things, a school for the deaf – some former students were in for dinner on the same night we stayed – but is now part of the Handpicked Hotels group, and, as such, attention to detail is as fabulous as you'd expect.
There are a number of suites to choose from. The Byron, hidden up a winding staircase in the Priory's commanding tower, houses its very own four-poster bed and a life-sized painting of Lord Byron at his flamboyant best. We, however, spurned Byron's charms and happily checked into the Kipling with its enormous leather bed, purple velvet sofa, the aforementioned plasma TV and a square-footage to beat most London flats. Nutfield runs a nice sideline in weddings and I'm told the Tennyson suite with its roll-topped, freestanding bath is a favourite for couple's first nights.
If you can drag yourself away from the opulence of your room (and believe me it takes willpower), extravagant, three-course dinners are dished-up by candlelight within the Priory's cloisters, with coffees (or in our case, gin and tonics) served in front of the fire afterwards. There's also a spa and heath club for those wanting facials, massages or a quick swim to work off the steamed treacle pudding the next day. Mornings, however, seem a long way off when you're cocooned in the biggest bed of your life, watching the biggest TV of your life. My advice: make sure you set your alarm. Missing check out is one thing, but you definitely won't want to miss the cooked breakfast.
Details: Nutfield Priory, Nutfield Road, Nutfield, Redhill, Surrey RH1 4EL (01737-824400, www.handpicked.co.uk/nutfieldpriory)
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