On your doorstep: The Petersham Hotel, Richmond
PUBLISHED: 16:41 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:58 09 February 2018
Perfectly placed to enjoy that famously protected view from Richmond Hill, which has inspired artists, writers and explorers alike, The Petersham is well worth a visit
The celebrated view of the vale of the River Thames from the summit of Richmond Hill has long been the inspiration of writers and artists, both native and from afar – so much so that in 1902 an Act of Parliament was passed (and renewed 100 years later), safeguarding it from development for future generations.
The view has been immortalized numerous times by famous artists including Sir Joshua Reynolds and JMW Turner and was the reason William Byrd II gave the name of Richmond to the city he founded in the American state of Virginia in 1733. Captain Vancouver, explorer of the Pacific Coast of North America, was also so taken by the view that he chose to live out the last years of his life in the Richmond village of Petersham and is buried there at St Peter’s Church.
Any plot that takes advantage of that famous view could never be considered a bad spot for a hotel. Perched on the side of Richmond Hill, The Petersham commands incredible views across the meadows to the bend in the Thames. However, the view isn’t the only reason to visit this historic building, which was transformed from a cottage into a grand hotel by John Giles (the architect who famously designed London’s Langham Hotel), in the second half of the 19th century.
By far, the most notable feature of the interior of the building is the magnificent Portland stone staircase – reported to be the tallest unsupported stone staircase in the country – and the artwork on the ceiling above it, which was painted by Ferdinando Galli and depicts Italian renaissance artists including Raphael and Michelangelo.
Owned since 1978 by the local Dare family, the Victorian hotel has 58 rooms and, if like us, you’re lucky enough to stay in one of the front-facing rooms, you’ll be able to take full advantage of that view. All the rooms are traditionally styled with Italian marble bathrooms and ‘old school’ tea and coffee making facilities – there’s no Nespresso machine or state of the art sound system here but then who needs that when you can stare at one of the most famous views in the world?
You need not take your eye off the vista at meal times either. Although on the lower floor of the hotel, The Petersham Restaurant is perfectly positioned to look out over the protected meadows and the Thames (and is extended onto the terrace in the spring and summer months).
The menu, a changing set menu of modern British dishes designed by head chef, Jean-Didier Gouges, is uncomplicated yet enticing.
We went for crab lasagne and three-way Jerusalem artichoke to start, followed by wild mushroom risotto which, while simple, was executed impeccably. The pièce de résistance of the meal however, was the dessert – chocolate tart with hazelnut ice cream and mulled wine pear crumble. Dining against a backdrop that has inspired so many, you might expect to attract a premium price tag but with three courses for around £35, the menu was exceptional value for money.
The drawing room at The Petersham is a charming place to relax with a nightcap but with just one night at the hotel, we retired to our room to once again take advantage of the view. Despite the cold weather (and warmed by the bottle of Pinot Noir we had enjoyed with dinner), we even ventured out onto the balcony for a few moments but soon stepped back inside, safe in the knowledge the view would be even better when the sun had risen again in the morning.
Visit petershamhotel.co.uk/ to book