I did something very decadent this weekend. Something that I hadn’t originally intended to do, but circumstances changed and I thought what the hell. I spent the weekend in a hotel on my own! Not just a random hotel, more specifically, Mercure’s Burford Bridge hotel in Boxhill, Dorking (because they invited me), but I was meant to go with Dexter. He couldn’t make it in the end. Hashtag long story. Hashtag teenagers.
Anyway, I decided to go anyway. It’s only an hour’s drive from where I live in Kent and I’ll be honest, I needed the break. I know I’ve said it before but parenting is hard enough, and lone parenting with no support is a whole lot harder, so if I’m offered a short break from that, there’s no way I’m not taking it! (For the record Dexter, if you’re reading this, I love you very much haha!)
I don’t know Surrey very well, but the hotel was really easy to find. I’d heard of Boxhill before because it’s quite infamous in the cycling world – not that I’d ever attempt it, I just saw it on Channel 5’s Celeb de Tour programme! The sight of Louis Spence cycling up Boxhill, clad head to toe in lycra, is one I’ll never forget.
Onto the hotel. First thing I noticed is that there’s a big car park opposite for hotel guests. Perfect. You don’t have to pay and it’s literally opposite the hotel. Second thing I noticed, it was really rather pretty. The hotel was just off a roundabout, off a main(ish) road, but it felt like being in the middle of the countryside. I later found out when I went exploring, that the hotel is next to Burford Meadow, a National Trust. As a side note, there is no pathway going up Boxhill, so it would be quite dangerous to walk it, but there is another route up there via the ‘Stepping Stones’ and apparently there’s a great vantage point at the top. I was going to go up there on Sunday morning but in typical British fashion, it was pouring down with rain so I didn’t bother.
The hotel was refurbished two years ago and it was immaculate. Everything was beautifully decorated, stylish, comfortable, warm (a little too warm for my liking if I’m honest, but you can’t please everyone!) and it had a really nice feel to the place. You know when you go house hunting and you want a house that just … ‘flows’ nicely? Well this hotel flowed nicely. Reception on the right as you walk in, and a comfortable lounge area and bar on your left. It felt open and spacious – just my cup of tea.
I’ve said before that one of the things, in fact the main thing, that will see me return to a hotel is what the staff are like and it’s almost a 10/10 for me. I did just notice one member of staff that was a bit grumpy, but we’re all entitled to feel like that sometimes – perhaps I caught him on an off-day. But, having said that, every other member of staff made up for that. They were warm, friendly, polite, helpful and went above and beyond their roles to make my stay comfortable. Now I know for a fact that no-one knew I was there to review the hotel, but I always look to see how other guests are treated by the staff, so I have a balanced view, and everyone was treated with the same courtesy and respect. A massive plus point for this hotel. I would particularly like to praise one gentleman who looked after me for the whole weekend, but I’m ashamed to say I didn’t ask for his name. But hopefully if he’s reading this, he’ll know who he is.
I was classed as a ‘Privilege’ guest (details of Privilege Guest Package at the bottom), so my room overlooked the gardens and there was a plate of delicious hand-made chocolates waiting for me in my room. Because of the time of year, the air-con didn’t pump out cold air, which was a shame as I like a cool room, but I slept with the windows open and the temperature was OK. There was an extra heater in my room if you do like to sleep in a room hotter than the sun, but it’s hard to gauge what a guest will like isn’t it? The only downside of having to sleep with the windows open (and they only open marginally), is that I heard a company’s office party that went on into the early hours … it was just bad luck I was staying that weekend because I doubt they have parties every week, but if you’re sensitive to noise like I am, and you forgot your earplugs like I did, it might be worth checking with reception when you book. It didn’t spoil my stay per se, but I do like peace and quiet in my room, so it’s a minor point worth mentioning.
The room, like the rest of the hotel, was spotless. I was in a twin room, with the beds right next to each other, and the bed was really comfortable. The bathroom had a bath and shower, some lovely toiletries had been left for men and women, and plenty of towels. The room had dressing gowns, a safe, a Nespresso coffee machine and a mini bar … although with no alcohol, just soft drinks. There was no price list attached, so I’m presuming the soft drinks were free. I didn’t have any so again, I’d check with reception first, just in case.
Another one of the Privilege guest perks was a free drink in the bar, along with a small charcuterie board. That was a nice surprise – cold meats and hot chillies, a great precursor to the walk I went on to have around Burford Meadow. Again, the bar was really warm, perfect if you’ve just been out cycling up and down Boxhill, and I noticed a real mix of people … from romantic couples to families, to girlfriends having Afternoon Tea. There was a really nice atmosphere and I could have easily spent a few hours there. I also tried out a new local gin (all in the name of research) called Silent Pool, which was really rather delicious.
Another high point of the weekend. Dinner on Saturday night was incredible. It’s not cheap, I paid £26 for a Rib Eye steak, but it was well worth the money. I had a bread board before my starter came – warm bread with salted butter, marmite butter (trust me, it was delicious), and Ajo Blanco, a puree of almonds and garlic. For my starter, I had a pork and Nduja (Spanish sausage) croquette, with cold, red cabbage and mustard mayonnaise … (OK, I was full by now) … but then for my main course I had the steak, with the most amazing peppercorn sauce I’ve ever tasted, Dauphinoise potatoes and broccoli. Oh, with a paprika butter on top of the steak. It’s a shame my camera battery ran out then! (So I apologise for the quality of the photos.)
In fact, I was so full, I couldn’t manage dessert. OK, OK, I just asked them to bring dessert to my room later! But in my defence, I just had a scoop of vanilla and cherry ice cream – just perfect to end this amazing meal.
Breakfast the next morning was as high a standard as the night before. It was self-service but offered everything you could want. I did the poached egg test, and not only did the eggs come out quickly, they were perfectly runny in the middle. The staff were hard pushed to replenish everything in time as the restaurant was full of the people who had been partying hard the night before, but they did really well. Fresh bread, gorgeous meaty sausages, lots of cereals and Danish pastries. I was rather restrained if I say so myself, and headed back to my room for one more Nespresso coffee before I headed home.
It’s not the most natural thing in the world to stay in a hotel on your own as a woman I don’t think, unless it’s for business, and I still feel a little judged and awkward when I do it. You know everyone is looking at you and wondering why on earth you’d go to a hotel on your own. I’d love for hotels to perhaps think more about solo female travellers and what they can do to make the experience better for them. Whether it’s magazines left in the bar, or spa treatments offered … I don’t know, I need to think more about what I would personally want, but what the Burford Bridge did do was make me feel like I wasn’t alone. Even though there was a huge party of other people there, and I was the only person on their own, they took the time to make sure I was happy, that my drink was always topped up and that really goes a long way!
To give you an even better idea of just how lovely this hotel is, I made a video!
If you’re thinking about going away for a night or two on your own, I can highly recommend it. And if you’re looking for somewhere to go that offers great customer service, excellent food and is right next door to the most beautiful National Trust park, then Mercure’s Burford Bridge would be perfect for you. Details of their Valentine’s Day offer and Privilege Guest package are below.
Privilege Guest Package:
- Enhanced comfort with a double bed.
- Deluxe toiletries.
- Robe & slippers.
- Complimentary soft drinks.
- Nespresso machine.
- Preferred Check-in/Check-out times.
- Privilege Perks evening drinks and canapés.
- 100 bonus Le Club points and a gift.
Mercure Valentine’s offer:
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to embrace your inner ‘romantic’ and enjoy an indulgent escape with your loved one, whether you opt for a cosy countryside retreat or a glamorous date night in one of the UK’s vibrant cities.
To mark the date and celebrate the season of love, Mercure Hotels is offering exclusive Valentine’s breaks at selected UK properties, valid for stays from 3rd – 20th February when booked before 19th February 2017. Guests who book to stay at selected UK Mercure Hotels before 20th February will receive a locally-inspired box of chocolates, a romantic three course dinner for two (with bubbles), breakfast for two and a late checkout until 2pm the following day; a package designed specifically for couples to enjoy as part of their Valentine’s experience.
Current or new Le Club AccorHotels members will also receive an additional 10% discount when booking directly online through Mercure.com.
A full list of participating Mercure Hotels, further details and prices can be found online at Mercure.com