We booked a two night break at Down Hall Hotel near Bishop’s Stortford in Essex to have a short break in the country to celebrate my birthday. We booked through Hotels.com with the average nightly room rate working out around £120 per night.
Down Hall Hotel is located in the middle of the Essex countryside, around 10 minutes drive from the M11 and 15 minutes from Stansted Airport. The hotel is an old country estate and comprises an older portion of the house and then a new wing that has been built in the last 30-40 years. The main building is located at the end of a long winding drive and gives you an impressive view of the front as you pull into the carpark.
Down Hall Hotel is fairly isolated, and while you can take taxis from the local railway stations (around 5 miles), it would certainly be fairly isolated without a car. The grounds of the hotel are worth a look, although we didn’t do a lot in them on a stormy, October weekend.
Rooms in the main house of Down Hall Hotel have been fairly recently renovated and overall have a traditional, yet modern country house hotel feel. We had a room on the second floor in the eaves of the main house. It took some getting to up the stairs but we liked the fact it was away from the hustle and bustle of the hotel.
We were particularly impressed with the bed and pillows which was very comfortable and allowed us to have a great nights sleep. Everything you’d expect from a hotel of this standard is included from tea, coffee to hairdryers and toiletries.
The TV was also of a high standard and the hotel has even supplied an easy to reach HDMI port that you can plugin your laptop / console / Apple TV / Fire TV etc. I had taken a Fire TV so we could watch Netflix and normally have to dig around behind the TV, but this wasn’t the case here!
WiFi was also of a good standard and streaming Netflix had no issues throughout the weekend.
The bathroom in our standard room was pretty tiny, but very well decorated and had everything we needed. It only contained a shower (no real issues for us), but certainly felt a little cramped overall. Looking at photos on the website other rooms are larger, but some of these haven’t been renovated and so look a little older.
Down Hall Hotel has a small spa which can be accessed at an extra cost. We didn’t try it but saw a few people. Robes are provided in rooms if you do, although it looks like you need to walk outside to access the spa (we saw someone walking in robes outside on a chilly October day). Down Hall Hotel is frequently used for weddings and we found that during the day on Saturday the common rooms were used for this.
Breakfast at Down Hall Hotel was good but didn’t really stand out in any way. The main breakfast is a buffet with everything you would expect from cold foods, cereals to a full English cooked breakfast. The food was okay, although it felt at times a little lower end than a hotel of this standard should have – it felt some money was being saved here. I’ve certainly had better breakfasts at hotels such as Jury’s Inn and Holiday Inn – both of which are generally significantly cheaper.
There were also occasions where things ran out and took a while to be replenished. Service was brisk but could do with being a little more friendly. We all know breakfast is busy, but it doesn’t hurt to smile and welcome guests warmly.
We ordered from the room service menu one evening, ordering a couple of sandwiches and drinks. While prices are what you would expect from room service at a hotel, the quality was actually better than we expected. We really enjoyed the meal and would certainly order again. It was delivered when promised (around 30 minutes) and presented with a smile.
Our main issue with Down Hall Hotel came from the amount of noise we suffered on our first evening. First one neighbour decided to start playing music loudly – a quick call to reception had this sorted. Around 2am we were then woken by our other neighbour watching Coronation Street at full blast (it was that loud we heard the title music note for note!). Again a further call to reception sorted this. While I can’t fault the hotel for dealing with the issues the noise isolation certainly could be better overall! I’d also have appreciated someone saying sorry at check-out. The incident was never mentioned and we were not really asked how things were.
Overall we had a good two nights at Down Hall Hotel. We certainly enjoyed our stay overall and would visit again in future. Perhaps we were unlucky on our first night as things were certainly quieter on the second evening. I’d certainly suggest that the hotel could improve the level of service overall and put a little more effort into welcoming guests on all interactions. Combining these improvements with a slightly higher spend on breakfast would make Down Hall even better still.