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These days you’d choose it hands down over the big Palace across the road. Vibrant artworks, low ceilings, lower sofas and lounge chairs covered in rich fabrics, creaky floorboards and a massive hand-drawn, map of Hampton Court greets you in reception – as does a chilled glass of bubbles.
The Mitre sits on the water’s edge on the north side of Hampton Court Bridge and is the first hotel venture from the newly-formed Signet collection created by Hector Ross and Ronnie Kimbugwe who worked together previously at Bel and The Dragon in Reading.
Interior Designer Nicola Harding was entrusted to bring new life into this 17th-century Grade II listed property dating from 1665. She’s succeeded in not only expertly blending modernity with tradition but in offering whimsical surprises at every turn.
Nicola has not held back on the colour either, with bright accents — over 150 different shades — featuring throughout the hotel. Burnt orange velvet-upholstered antique chairs, sit beautifully against the blue and gold Chinoiserie wallpaper.
Much of the furniture has been upcycled using colour and sumptuous fabrics — partly due to having to contend with the shortage of supplies caused by the Pandemic — but she also wanted to retain some of the hotel’s original pieces.
The result is that it feels more like a much-loved country house than a hotel. Glazed pots sit on antique dressers, oars are strung up on walls, framed motivational messages and antique brass sconces provide subtle, impactful lighting.
The quirky round library was once a courtyard. Entered via a curved glass window, the original brickwork is painted in contrasting shades of ink blue and deep powder blue giving it a more heightened feel.
On the shelves and side tables sit a superbly-curated British book collection amongst assorted memorabilia including old union jack flags; globes and a 1960’s jukebox.
Outside are lovely terraces extending to the water’s edge where you can sip on a glass of Whispering Angel wine while watching the parade of canal boats, rowers and swans comically diving for dinner as the sun sets. You can even head out on the water on a rowboat with a hamper from the hotel’s kitchen.
Back inside, each of the 36 rooms has its own signature style. The rich furnishings and fearless use of colour result in uplifting, yet supremely relaxing spaces.
Ours, The Royal Bedroom, features an orange and white wallpaper with a dado wall in burnt coral. There’s a bath in one corner, a separate bathroom with shower and views over the Thames. Toiletries are from Bramley, robes and slippers sit in the cupboard and the Nespresso machine (with fresh milk to hand) and King’s ginger, on the minibar.
Food and drink
The Mitre has one of the best culinary offerings around served by staff in jaunty aprons, jeans and trainers. In the rotunda, the Riverside 1665 restaurant on the lower floor, is overseen by Ronnie Kimbugwe, who trained with Gordon Ramsey.
Painted in relaxing deep olive green, the striped roman blinds and low-lighting give it a sophisticated air.
When it comes to food, it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps at the extraordinary crispy cauliflower popcorn, essentially a bowl of glistening, crispy teriyaki and soy-coated cauliflower for £7; or the massive Rock oysters at £21 for six. There’s a to-die-for tortellini of Devon crab and lobster dish, at £26, and Hampshire rib eye, at £33. All are locally sourced. Soon guests will be able to dine on vegetables from the Hampton Court Palace gardens.
Breakfast and lunch are served in the Coppernose restaurant directly above. Its feel is brighter and more relaxed, with banquettes, potted palms, marble-topped tables and an extraordinary tent-style roof painted to resemble a circus tent.
For the warmer months or larger groups, the Orangery has a more relaxed vibe – with a glass roof, greenery galore, wicker chairs and wooden tables.
The opening of the Mitre has brought up a new interest to a traditionally touristy part of Surrey. If you can drag yourselves away, the surrounding area is worth closer investigation.
The hotel can organise boat trips or even a rowboat to hire. Across the bridge are a handful of charming antique shops and alfresco cafes which feel more Petworth than the outskirts of London.
You can ramble along the Thames Path or through the vast expanses of Bushy Park home to deer and hidden wooden gardens. Of course, just opposite, are the immaculate grounds and elaborate halls of Hampton Court Palace.
Who knew holidaying close to home would be this much fun.
The deal: Doubles from £195, B&B
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