HOTEL REVIEW: Maison Talbooth, Essex
Less like a hotel, more like a high spec country house for hire, Maison Talbooth’s boutique furnishings and slick decor make for a fabulously polished weekend away. Even better, one you can settle down in less than two hours after leaving your London desk.
Hidden away in the north Essex countryside, the house overlooks Dedham Vale, otherwise known as Constable Country. An outdoor swimming pool heated to 85 degrees year-round (with a beautiful pool house and hot tub), astro-turf tennis courts and a day spa count among its merits, but that’s just the beginning.
Rise early for a leisurely breakfast on your own private terrace or in the airy Garden Room, before exploring the grounds, booking a treatment (we enjoyed a ‘powerdirect 25’, a tension-relieving massage directed at the back and shoulders) and walking in the bucolic fields beyond. On your return, enjoy a cup of something warm by the luxurious pool house fire.
For dinner, it’s off to sister hotel Le Talbooth – this is the only evening dining option, and though it’s a little effort to get there on foot or via the on-call courtesy car, the experience is exceptional.
Overlooking the River Stour, the restaurant mixes modern flourishes with old-world features (think Farrow & Ball colourways, huge sparkling mirrors and exposed beams) and the terrace features a large sail allowing for al fresco dining come summer. A lack of music means the atmosphere is a little staid, but a it’s fun to enjoy a formal evening every now and again – oh, and the food is excellent.
We sampled the Dedham Vale Chateubriand, carved shortly before being served up with Dauphinoise potatoes, fine beans, Madeira jus and béarnaise sauce and perfectly cooked medium rare. Dessert was nothing short of spectacular, as our picture shows – a black cherry and 72% chocolate Millionaire with honeycomb and pistachio.
Finally, it’s time to return to your suite, where the pillows are sumptuously soft, the baths deep and the curtains thick (and sprinkled with a little Essex glam – a riot of zebra print and shiny surfaces). Exceptionally clean and inviting, each of the 12 rooms is named after a literary hero – a lovely touch for book-loving visitors.
We were lucky to stay in Betjeman, a superb deluxe room on the second floor with huge double aspect windows overlooking the manicured gardens.
Big enough to feature its own dining area if you fancy breakfast in your room, the bathroom stuffed with REN products, a Samsung HD TV offering tons of Sky channels and the mini bar full of complimentary fare, checking out has never been more difficult.
Standard double: From £215