In the quaint market town of Midhurst, situated in the picturesque South Downs National Park, is the delightful Spread Eagle historic inn. It is the perfect blend of exemplary service and comfort, combined with the heritage it's fascinating past brings.
With the oldest parts of the hotel dating back to 1430, and indeed with some of the impressive 39 rooms and suites residing there, it boasts some rather fascinating visitors throughout the ages- from the Earl of March, to Admiral Lord Nelson. A country inn in essence, there are atmospheric dining areas, a charming gin bar, a relaxing spa, and roaring open fireplaces a-plenty.
With a range of rooms to choose from, you can indulge in luxurious suites, all situated in the oldest part of the house, or a selection of sumptuous deluxe bedrooms, many with some rather fancy four posters. All feature en-suite bathrooms, temple spa toiletries, complimentary tea and coffee tray, and fluffy dressing gowns.
Upon arrival, we checked in after parking our car in the onsite car park (popular with spa and dining guests this can be quite busy), we were greeted by a courteous receptionist, who guided us to our deluxe four poster room. The décor of the hotel is in keeping with its history, and has an opulence befitting this grand past. The room itself certainly has an ambience that exudes grandeur, with all furniture and accessories carefully chosen to fit the theme. A four poster bed rose majestically to almost above our waistlines, meaning you literally jump joyfully into its soft sheets, however the following eyes of the tudor-esque painting above it however, were slightly eerie.
Our bathroom boasted a luxurious tub to recline in, some really high end toiletries, with a comfortable yet traditional look, and we really enjoyed the home comforts of the added tea tray and biscuits. The only negatives we really noted were the un-reliable wi-fi, and the lack of open-able windows. This is probably due to the conservation of the period windows, but the summery weather really made it a tad humid.
For the ultimate in relaxation, the Spread Eagle has lovely spa facilities for guests to enjoy. With an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, fitness suite, and treatment rooms for individual bookings, there really is something for all tastes. Mr Biscuit indulged in a full body massage, expertly conducted, and utilizing Temple spa products, he commented on the professionalism, and tailor made nature of the treatment, adapting pressure and technique to suit. The treatment rooms are cosy yet calming, and decorated to ease the eye and soothe. The ‘In Good Spirits’ massage incorporates Swedish movements boost circulation and tone the muscles, and it also includes head and face treatments. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a relaxing swim, and lounged by its side with a selection of complementary magazines, and a fluffy robe. It is a sizable pool with access to a steam room and sauna, and very clean by nature. I was slightly off put by staff pouring jug-fulls of cleaning products into the pool several times as we all swam past, which perhaps could have been done before or after public access.
Dinner is served in a cosy and traditionally decorated restaurant, and we were lucky enough to have a lovely window seat, with comfortable chairs, and atmospheric lighting. In summer months they recommend the outside sun terrace. A three-course meal starts at around £38 per person on the set menu, which is very reasonable considering the standard of food. There are a variety of starters naturally, with selections such as fresh scallops or pork terrine, all delicately flavoured. The restaurant is committed to using the finest, locally sourced ingredients, and the wonderful freshness is testament to that.
Mr Biscuit more or less has a rule that if steak is on offer, then you never refuse it, and for once I actually really wished to try it myself. The sirloin was excellent, tender, and cooked to perfection however you prefer it, and the triple cooked chips were quite simply delicious. For those with a sweet tooth, desserts do not disappoint. The selection is quite traditional in choice, with choices like tarts, soufflés, and bruleés. All look and taste spectacular, and are a real culinary experience. The waiter and sommelier were both extremely helpful, and they are happy to pick wines perfectly to compliment the dishes.
After our meal we retired to the gin bar, with over x70 different types, and x12 different tonics, you literally are spoilt for choice, and the friendly barmaid regaled us with a fascinating history of this older part of the building before we reclined in the opulent comfy sofas next to the fire. Very satisfying indeed.
A nights sleep in our grand and very regal room was a tad hit or miss, with myself finding the obviously handmade, and no doubt very authentic bed, too soft, and Mr Biscuit sleeping just fine. This is obviously personal preference, and certainly it wouldn’t do to put say, a modern divan, in such a period setting.
Breakfast is good, arrives promptly, and is very hearty. A full English comes with all the components you would wish for, and there are a variety of other options from the continental, to popular other choices. Check out is not too early, not too late, so the organised amongst us can enjoy the quaint town of Midhurst, as the hotel is ideally situated for a gentle stroll around the local shops and cafes. There’s even the Midhurst museum which is worth a quick visit, and the famous Cockburn Tea-room above who will give you a voucher for the traditional English sweetshop adjoining it if you are very very good.
The perfect retreat for those seeking a twee country escape with a spa option, and a foodie delight. The Spread Eagle hotel often has a variety of offers you can find on their website, from afternoon tea, to an indulgent spa break. You can find details here, as well as booking information.
Pics copyright Whim Biscuit 2016.