Contributor/ Saffron Powell Brown
Best Known For
The Hotel du Vin chain was one of the first boutique hotel groups in the country, pioneering the “rooms with roll top baths” movement. Each hotel set within in beautiful and interesting buildings.
The Good Stuff
There’s actually fifteen HDVs, soon to be sixteen as the first outpost in London is set to open in Wimbledon this year. I’m amazed it’s taken so long for the hotel group to come to London! The original Hotel du Vin opened in Winchester two decades ago and at the time of my visit they were celebrating their 20th anniversary with a great value menu inspired by dishes served way back in 1994, I love a touch of nostalgia. The bistro at Hotel du Vin is the heart of the hotel, you even have to trapse through it to get to your room which is quite weird but also makes it more homely. A sizeable restaurant with an almost colonial feel, leaves surround the window frames, wine memorabilia and oil paintings of nudes adorn the walls. Breakfast in the bistro is considerately served until 11am at the weekends with a pleasing spread of cereals, pastries, freshly squeezed juice etc, along with an additional cooked breakfast menu. Try the Healthy breakfast – spinach and egg white omelette, carrot and ginger sausage, confit tomatoes and grilled mushrooms.
We received smiles all round from every member of staff that we encountered, from the poor guy who valet parked our car in the rain, to the barman who knocked up a couple of great cocktails. We were well and truly enveloped in good hospitality. There was a large affair going on at the same time as our stay but you wouldn’t know it as the party was in a private room, we didn’t hear a thing. Most of the other guests were couples like us, escaping for a bit of R&R, some escaped so far, they didn’t make it down for breakfast.
Inside the hotel – 7/10
The Henley building was once a former brewery, the bedrooms are housed in a cluster of historic listed buildings with original beams, metal girders and brickwork, cosy, quaint and very English. The cosy snug area by the bar was out of action for refurbishment so we sipped our pre-dinner drinks in the Champagne Bar that glistened by candlelight. Outside looked pretty, more twinkly lights and a cute cigar hut that made us almost wish we smoked. The 20th anniversary menu finishes at 7pm which allowed us to be back up in our room for the X Factor live show – perfect. Our room was named Brakspears Brewery, they all have names rather than numbers, I always appreciate it when hotels do this. There’s a well stocked mini bar and Nespresso machine, all the essentials apart from firm pillows. Decor-wise the room was a little tired but with some lovely rustic touches, such as the butler’s sink in the bathroom. Our roll top bath was backed by a huge walk in shower with an odd metal tray, I felt like I was about to be slaughtered.
Outside the hotel – 8/10
The hotel is right in the centre of Henley and also close to the river, home to the Henley Royal Regatta, overlooked by a beautiful Chiltern landscape of hills and fields. There’s a historic church, town hall and market square in this pretty little town. It’s great for a wander and to work off that breakfast with a scattering of charity shops that are always worth a look at when in an affluent area such as Henley. A little further afield is the lovely foodie village of Bray with the Crown and Hind’s Head pubs or try Luke’s Dining Room at Sanctum on the Green in Maidenhead.
Image courtesy of Hotel du Vin