Review: What it’s like to stay at The Mitre Hampton Court
PUBLISHED: 13:36 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:49 08 October 2020
The Mitre’s luxurious offering includes the only Whispering Angel terrace in the world
As home to kings, queens and other members of aristocracy, Hampton Court Palace in East Molesey has welcomed many a VIP to stay througout history. When the main palace accommodation was full however, visitors were taken to a guest house a little further along the river.
The Mitre was built in 1665 by order of Charles II to house the overflow of courtiers and, for convenience, an underground tunnel was even built running from the palace directly to the hotel. The tunnel remains to this day, although the wherabouts of the entrance is bit of a mystery.
The latest reincarnation of these ‘royal’ digs comes from the team behind the transformation of Leatherhead’s Cherkely Court (now Beaverbrook, considered one of the UK’s finest country house hotels) and has been tipped as one of the hottest openings of 2020.
Our arrival to the hotel was a little less cloak-and-dagger than it might have been back in the 17th century but the welcome a wonderfully warm one nonetheless. Having passed through the wisteria clad entrance, we were handed a glass of Whispering Angel (the hotel is home to the world’s only Whispering Angel terrace) and sat down for check in with hotel manager Claire Fyfe, who greeted us, from a distane, like an old friend. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve met Claire before, I was convinced I had but realised later it was because I’d seen her on TV - she was one of this year’s Masterchef finalists.
Taking us for a tour of the hotel, Claire explained that each of the 36 bedrooms and suites were named after notable historical figures and landmarks from local history - the top suite named after Hampton Court Palace’s most famous resident, Henry VIII, of course.
Designed by Nicola Harding, who also worked on Beaverbrook, the interiors are a harmonious blend of old and new; original four poster beds, art-deco chandeliers and reupholstered chairs have been given a modern lift with edgy printed soft furnishings and wallpapers (make sure you check out the Instagram-worthy handpainted blue de Gournay paper in the snug). Where possible, the team sourced fabrics, antiques and artwork from the local area: “We spent a lot of time at Kempton’s Sunbury Antiques Market,” Claire says.
Many of the bedrooms have views of the river or palace, some have both. But each has its individual quirk. Ours, called Bridge, had a whimisical window seat.
There are a number of dog friendly rooms and three of the lower ground floor rooms are dedicated family rooms with access to an internal courtyard and a separate kids space with bunk beds and a trunk filled with toys.
Extra touches like this can be found throughout the hotel; freshly baked biscuits are hung in a hessian bag on the door in lieu of a turn down service (which at the time of writing was on hold due to coronavirus restrictions) and in each room a bottle of King’s Ginger is there for you to toast your stay.
At the heart of the hotel is a residents-only library - formerly another interior courtyard - with honesty bar, where guests will be able to retire to after dinner once curfews are lifted. Until then, it’s a lovely spot to sit and read or bob along to tunes from the 1960s juke box in the corner.
Headed up by Ronnie Kimbugwe, who previously worked for Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s and with Signet Collection founder Hector Ross at the Bel and Dragon Inns, the food offering at The Mitre is what really brings everything together.
The light and airy Coppernose restuarant - another nod to Henry VII - offers relaxed all-day dining, while in the 1665 brasserie things are more formal but by no means pretentious. Start preceedings with the hotel’s signature cocktail (Signet Spritz) or pint of house-brewed Six Wives ale and a portion of Crispy Cauliflower “Popcorn” and then dine on flame grilled rib eye steak, tuna carpaccio and other fresh fish dishes - all sourced from British producers and locally area where possible. Dessert may seem impossible but you simply must find space to fit in the “Bombolini” warm Italian Nutella doughnuts - even if you share.
In warmer weather The Mitre’s huge terrace, complete with mis-matched cushions and aforementioned Whispering Angel bar provides the perfect vantage point to spectate life on the river or you could jump aboard a boat from the hotel’s private jetty.
It’s only polite, of course, to pop across and see the neighbours at the palace but you might also like to browse some of the many local antique shops nearby and, inspired by The Mitre, find your own little slice of history to take home and give a new lease of life.
Rooms at The Mitre Hampton Court start from £178 per night room only. Full English Breakfast from £15 per person. 020 8979 9988 / mitrehamptoncourt.com
Hampton Court Palace is open Wedensday to Sunday.
Explore the River Thames by boat - there are various operators such as J.Martin & Son and Thames River Boats nearby - or take a three-mile walk along the Thames Path to Kingston if visiting out of season.