The National Trust is an organisation based in the UK, and its main priority is to ensure that all properties, gardens, and historic land are well taken care of. This organisation's humongous list of establishments that are being kept in mint condition includes hotels. These National Trust hotels do not flounder in looking attractive to UK travellers looking to escape to the country for a short break.
When staying in a National Trust hotel, travellers will not only have a roof over their heads, but their stay will help to ensure that the building is well looked after. The money that is contributed by the guests ensures that the hotel’s structure remains ongoing for years and decades to come. The hotels themselves can either have a luxurious touch to them or can be as simple as a cosy British inn.
So, are National Trust hotels really worth booking if you’re looking for that idyllic country escape? Well, perhaps my personal experience of staying in the National Trust’s Hunter’s Inn hotel might just help you make up your mind.
Arrival at the Hunter’s Inn
Approaching the hotel gives me the sense that the Hunter’s Inn is kept discretely from the public eye. However, after driving down a steep and narrow hill, the Inn comes into plain view, and parking spots are easy to find. I park up, unload my belongings from my car, and then head inside to the reception area, where the restaurant and bar can also be found. At first glance, it gives something of a modern feel, encased in an Inn that has been around since the beginning of the 1900s.
The front entrance of The Hunter's Inn
The barwoman handed me my room keys, attached with a short wooden block which states I am residing in room 8 for two nights. I head up two sets of stairs to locate my room for the next two nights. I make it to my room number, which is labelled as a Tawny Owl room. Using my key, which is nothing like a key card for a modern Premier Inn or a Travelodge, I gain access to my superior double room for the first time.
My nickname for the weekend I am spending here
The room has a spacious feel after observing it for the first time. The walls and ceiling around the room give the room a slightly antique feel; however, the facilities are modern. There is even a kettle with tea and coffee-making facilities to make me feel more at home. The wide double bed makes it easy for taller guests to spread out. The room also has a minute living area, with a small sofa and Smart TV. On the left of the room is a closet wide enough for my suitcase to be left in after unpacking. Hangers provide that extra convenience in keeping my clothes off the ground.
The first view I got of my superior double room
To the right of my room is the bathroom, containing a bathtub for the guests who want to unwind in some suds after a long day. There is also a shower for those wanting to use this before dinner or in the morning to feel fresh. Toiletries are provided, giving me peace of mind in that I never needed to bring any in the first place. With my self-tour of the room complete, I proceed to relax and put my feet up before preparing to partake in the Inn’s dinner service.
Dinner on the First Night
The time to consume an evening meal arrives, and I head down to the Inn’s restaurant to be seated at a table next to the window. Shortly after, a front-of-house staff member approaches my table to reveal I’ve been seated at the wrong table. Classic rookie error, which can happen to any great front-of-house staff member.
I am then seated at my correct table, slightly further away from the garden view. I then study the menu while sipping on a pint of Aspall cider, which is on the house courtesy of the mistake of seating me at the wrong table. After examining the evening menu, I place my starter and main course orders; the starter being Shredded Crispy chilli beef, and the main course being Hunter’s Chicken.
My evening meal on the first night of my stay
The starter looks simple yet delicious simultaneously. The flavours from the crispy beef are correct in that they provide the flavours of Asia. As well as this, the appearance and aroma give that Asian essence to the dish, thanks to the topping of sesame seeds and spring onion.
The main course of Hunter’s Chicken looks very homely and is packed with BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese. The chicken breast itself is cooked nicely and isn’t too dry, mostly thanks to the BBQ sauce in the dish. The chips are soft and fluffy and taste even nicer with the sauce. The salad that accompanies everything contains fresh salad leaves and fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. Everything comes together and presents itself in its homemade manner well.
With my dinner consumed, and my thirst quenched thanks to the cider, I decide to retire for the evening and get some sleep in my king-size bed. The peace and quiet in my room surround me as I fall asleep.
The next morning, I wake up to the sound of one or two guests leaving the Inn for a day filled with activities. I get out of bed, put on some fresh clothes and go down for breakfast. I sit at the table close to the window displaying the Inn’s garden view. I tuck into a hearty Full English Breakfast with toast, marmalade on the side, and a cup of coffee, picking me up for the day ahead.
I then set about keeping myself occupied for the day, knowing that the Hunter’s Inn is there to welcome me back to unwind before my second evening meal. On my return from a day of activities, I retire to my room for a brief period of relaxation before getting ready to partake in dinner service for the second night.
Dinner on the Second Night
Dinner for this second night consists of a breaded garlic mushroom starter, a fish and chip main course and a white chocolate bread and butter pudding dessert. These three courses are a great way to tuck in on my second and final night of staying here, made better by the relaxing atmosphere in and around the bar area.
The crispy batter surrounding the mushrooms melts in my mouth, infused with the less overpowering garlic flavour. The batter on the fish also has the same effect, and the triple-cooked chips provide that fluffy texture that is expected in the first place. Last but not least, a bread and butter pudding, which is slightly heavy, but the flavour of white chocolate comes through well and tastes more heavenly with the custard. The pint and extra half-pint of Aspall cider accompany me through my journey as I savour these three courses on my final evening at the Hunter’s Inn.
My evening meal on the second night of my stay
I retire to my room once more after settling the bill for my meal (it may have been a tad costly, but it is good to treat yourself).
Departure from The Hunter’s Inn
The next morning arrives, and the time has come to pack my belongings and clothes, ready for the off. Once my packing is complete, I head down for my second breakfast at the Hunter’s Inn. My appetite isn’t as substantial as it was for my first Hunter’s Inn breakfast, so I settle for a bowl of cornflakes and a latte.
I finish my consumption in the breakfast service and then return to my room to collect my things. I take one last look at the room that has kept a roof over my head and thank it graciously for its generous comfort. I then head down to the bar to hand in my room keys and reluctantly depart Hunter’s Inn, vowing to visit the area again for another short break.
All National Trust hotels in the UK have their own number of star ratings, dependent on what they offer the paying guest. While staying in one of these hotels, the chances of guests travelling back in time to learn about the hotel’s history are very high; they could even be given a history lesson about the hotel by the current owners themselves, if any.
The number of these National Trust hotels may be limited, but they will help you experience what you are after. This can range from a solo traveller wanting peace and tranquillity while escaping a busy life to a couple wanting to get away to a lesser-known location. Whoever wants to stay in a National Trust hotel and loves to encourage the restoration of their buildings, I applaud them keenly.
I myself am proud to be one of those people.
The Travelling Foodie’s Facts and Figures
· The hotel room I booked was the superior double room, which came to £304.20 for two nights, including breakfast (As stated on Booking.com).
· The Hunter’s Inn website includes offers which are suitable for couples, hikers, and even those with the food and drink buzz. Click Here for more details.
· The National Trust website holds more details on the independently managed hotels which they help to look after.