It’s a fact of life that life is becoming more hectic and more frustrating. We live in a “me, me, me” society. The journey down the A1 was annoying. Drivers with no courtesy for other road users. Potholes a plenty and much surface water on this wet and grey day. Today we were being blasted by The Pest From The West. So it was a relief when we entered the gravel car park at The William Cecil Hotel in Stamford. And right on cue the rain stopped and the Stamford stone looked even more mellow and beautiful in the afternoon sun.
Hillbrooke Hotels have a portfolio of three – two hotels and one coaching inn. The iconic Master builder’s at Buckler’s Hard in the New Forest. And two here in Stamford. The William Cecil and The bull and Swan (Food, Pint , Pillow). All three unique, historic, quirky and luxurious.
After the recent snow we had decided to take advantage of the Winter Warmer offer advertised on the website. Two nights accomodation in a classic room including breakfast. Plus dinner for two on both nights. One night at the inn, 100 yards down the road. £60 contribution to our meal and £60 spend on the next night in the hotel itself. An absolute bargain for a 4 star AA hotel. The Rotary club of Stamford St Martin’s meet here every week and if it is good enough for them!
Both properties in Stamford ooze history- combining real character with lots of style. Hillbrooke opened The Bull and Swan in 2010 followed in July 2011 when William Cecil opened it’s doors. Originally a private residence and then a boarding house for the local High School. Formerly Lady Anne’s Hotel and now The William Cecil. William Cecil was first Lord of Burghley and treasurer to Queen Elizabeth 1. Both inn and hotel are leased from the Burghley Estate. The imposing palace and parkland are accessed through a kissing gate a minutes walk from the hotel.
The Cecil has 27 rooms all individually designed. There are three tiers of quality- classic, chic and luxury. All rooms are named. Examples include GOODY RUDKIN, VIRTUOUS, STRETCH THE UPHOLSTERER, QUEEN OF PALMERA and PLENTY( a big room?). And yes PRIDE is next to PREJUDICE as you would expect.
The hotel has a tranquil country feel although it is situated just a few minutes from the town. Parking in Stamford is notoriously bad. The hotel’s car park is vast and from here it is easily close enough to walk into the centre.
First impressions, especially in the hospitality industry, are always so important. The hotel is a handsome looking building with honey coloured mellow stone adding to the charm. It is clear that the hotel moves to a much slower pace than outside. Just perfect for relaxing. There are nooks and crannies where you can sit, read, chat or simply unwind in deep comfortable sofas and armchairs. Ambience and atmosphere and sophisticated charm.
The youthful reception team were highly professional and full of smiles. A lovely warm welcome. Check in was quick and efficient and it was so nice to be personally shown to our room. Young people often get a bad press but everyone we met were a credit to the company. The ethos of the company is “to offer relaxed friendly service in quirky surroundings. Service beyond expectation and an innate willingness to help” . It clearly shows here!
We were staying in room 5 SARAH HOGGINS. She was the second wife of Henry, 1st Marquess of Exeter and died at the tender age of 24 at Burghley. Hopefully no tragedy in the next two nights!
The bedroom was oh so cosy and beautifully designed. One off furnishings and a blind so thick that no morning light can seep through. Natural fabrics feature in all rooms. The bath was large and filled within seconds with piping hot water- no need to wait minutes as you often do in hotels. A power shower too. I can’t stand hotels that provide piddling little towels that don’t ever cover your confusion. Not here though- luxury soft towels that cover even the fullest figure. And talking of quality all toiletries are provided by The White Company. Nothing cheap here!
From the bathroom it is THREE STEPS TO (the) HEAVEN(ly) bed. Large, imposing and luxurious and angled to fit into the room. The mattress conducive for a good nights sleep. Perfect.
Plenty of tea(Tea Pigs) and coffee on a lovely tray. I was greatly impressed with the cafetiere and ground coffee supplied- much nicer than the cheaper instant variety. A nice touch. The melt in the mouth biscuits provided- Apple and Blackberry, and Rhubarb and Ginger certainly hit the right spot. Melt in the mouth moments!
Our first evening meal was taken in the romantically lit hotel conservatory situated next to The Olympic Bar. The bar, the beating heart of the hotel, is named in honour of Lord Burghley who in 1928 at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam won gold in the 400 metres hurdles. He followed this up in 1932 with a silver in Los Angeles. Pub quiz fact he was portrayed by Nigel Havers in the award winning film “Chariots of Fire”.
Babs and I both had the 28 day aged Sirloin steak, twice cooked chips, onion rings and fabulous vine tomatoes- so fresh they came with the sun still attached. Succulent and well cooked and presented. Service by Meghan was sleek stylish and as you would expect here friendly.
No wonder the restaurant has been awarded two AA rosettes for outstanding food quality. Locally sourced produce is used as much as possible. The menu is varied and there is easily enough choice to suit all tastes and palettes and diets!
Whoever made my Rhubarb fool, lemongrass and orange cream topped with ginger crumble deserves a medal and a rosette all for themselves. Layer on layer of pink rhubarb and cream loveliness. And when the orange kicked in …. oh what a joy! It so well complements the Rhubarb. A CARNIVAL IN THE MOUTH. A fine gourmet experience. We sat afterwards on relaxing armchairs and whiled away some “me time”.
Breakfast was again fabulous. Laid back but efficient with as much tea and coffee as you can drink. Plenty of toast jam and butter and pastries . Fresh fruit too. The cooked breakfast was a delight. Couldn’t have asked for anything better.
The Bull and Swan has been welcoming paying guests since the late 1680’s. Busy when we arrived but we were soon shown to our reserved table. Again two great meals of excellent quality. Having had two substantial courses each we decided to share the sweet- Rhubarb crumble. Well we are from Yorkshire. Superb. Lovely friendly staff who clearly enjoy their jobs. And that is lovely to see and a great reflection on the management.
We enjoyed our stay at The William Cecil. Voted number one hotel in Stamford by many guests and it is easy to see why. It gets out vote too. It has easily jumped into our top three favourite hotels in the world and we can’t wait to go back soon.
William Cecil and the Burghley estate will be proud to have his name associated with the hotel. With Paul, Vicki and Kieran in charge, guiding and leading the excellent young staff , the hotel will go from strength to strength and achieve many more accolades.
QUIRKY LUXURY – IT’S A WINNING COMBINATION.