As I drove through the rolling hills from Winchester towards the historic town of Midhurst, I had no idea that I would be stepping back in time for the weekend.
The Spread Eagle Hotel is located in a pretty corner of Midhurst on a small crossroads with Medieval Inns on all sides, complete with wonky roofs. So packed with history that the walls literally bulge! The oldest parts of the hotel date back to 1430 and the Queen’s Suite was the most unusual and interesting room that I have ever spent the night in. It was said to have accommodated Elizabeth I, so you can’t help but feel special staying here.
The town itself is a pretty and traditional olde worldy village full of interesting shops and restaurants. On Saturday evening, it was thriving with busy bars and restaurants. In all honesty, if I were to choose my ideal town in this area of the world, it would undoubtedly be Arundel, however, the Spread Eagle Hotel and Spa is a destination in itself. I recommend it in its own right. Midhurst does remain a pretty market town, if not my absolute first choice.
You can enter the Spread Eagle hotel via several different entrances. I chose to enter through the bar of the main building, which engulfs you with a medieval atmosphere. Walk through the bar, past a genuine suit of armor, and through to the reception area. A more sensible route to enter the hotel is via the sunny and appealing conservatory by the car-park, but I like the atmospheric bar routing.
My room, the Queen’s Suite, really was something special. It was reached via a maze of low ceilinged passageways and high ceilinged bridges, up various sets of steps, and through many low beamed doorways. This 3 part room was made up of an extensive and high ceilinged, beam strewn sitting area, complete with piano and tiny medieval windows looking out onto the road below. Climb through a little door to reach a tiny dressing room which takes you through to the main bedroom housing an enormous and intricately carved four-poster bed. The floors of the entire building, being so old, are crazily uneven. You walk up and down slopes as you make your way to your room and around your room. The medieval windows, which are made up of hundreds of diamond panes inserted into hand-made frames, look out onto the other old buildings, a churchyard, and a square. A large fireplace sat to one side of the room and a table and chairs to the other with a teeny “powder room”, I assume for gun powder, dated 1430 AD in the corner. The bathroom was modern with a claw foot bath. As I relaxed on the bed, I could almost hear the horses and carts pulling up outside…
This was an absolute highlight for me. The scent of hundreds of years worth of sweet-scented log fires, low wonky ceilings, dark wood floors, and a million of uneven nooks and crannies invite you to rest yourself in one of the many comfy armchairs by the fire. Bars don’t get more delightfully historic than this one.
With a huge fireplace adorned with copper pots, if a little less atmospheric than the bar, the busy restaurant is another highlight of this hotel. The food is excellent. The crowd skewed towards women who were on a spa break and couples on a weekend break, both young and old. I chose the fish risotto to start, which was a creamy gorgeousness of fresh fish and perfectly cooked rice, followed by another fish dish on mash that swam in an ocean of yellow cream. My husband went for the Partridge, which was equally moist and tasty. The pudding was a cinnamon apple caramel concoction, which I just about managed before returning to my room with drunken floors (or was that me?).
The Spa was made up of a pretty pool in a glass building designed like a Chappell and surrounded by comfy loungers. Children could swim from 10 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm, and when I headed down there, although people were milling around the pool, the pool itself was empty, and my son and I had it all to ourselves.
I also enjoyed an extremely relaxing and enjoyable Temple Spa relaxing facial/massage. I went for the Power Breakfast, which was a half-hour facial combined with an upper shoulder massage. It was a lovely experience and did what it said on the tin. I came out feeling lighter and calmer.
If you are looking for a country retreat with bags of history, excellent bar, food, and a relaxing spa, The Spread Eagle Hotel and Spa really is a rather good choice. For a special experience, you must request a room in the Medieval part of the hotel.
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