I had the pleasure of taking a short getaway over the summer at Hawkstone Hall & Gardens, in Shrewsbury. A charming 18th-century Georgian mansion, the estate stretches across 88 acres of land and overlooks the Shropshire countryside and Welsh Valleys. Recently renovated and converted into a boutique hotel, the structure has been in existence for nearly 550 years and offers a romanticized old-world charm with modern and contemporary features and services. The main building is located about a mile’s drive away along a gravelled road, and we were captivated by the naturally beautiful and lush surroundings. Majestic double doors, grand staircases, high sculpted ceilings, rich drapes and antique furniture give the interiors add Hawkstone’s sheer opulence.
The hotel has 37 guest rooms, which each have distinct features, yet share a soft colour palette of duck-egg blue and calamine pink. The hotel is also pet-friendly, with some rooms welcoming our furry friends as guests. There is also another room with interconnecting chambers for larger families. Some of the suites, located in the main hall are named after famous authors, and we had the pleasure of staying in the well-appointed room Byron. Each of the rooms, however, is immaculate featuring opulent chandeliers, four-poster beds, luxurious Elemis bathroom essentials, a vintage radio, cocktail trays, Nespresso coffee, vintage radio and other elements of vintage décor. The bathrooms are as spacious as the chambers themselves, with far off views of the estate and the Valleys – a heavenly corner for relaxation. Their in-house mascot Hector, a fluffy stuffed bear, gave us a warm welcome and was our companion throughout the weekend.
In proper English style, we stepped into one of the main parlours of the manor that overlooks the Hawkstone garden – The Saloon. There is a variety of menus to choose from, namely the ‘Traditional’, Gentlemen’s’ and ‘Guilt-Free’ menus. Whilst enjoying the view of the expansive gardens, we opted for the offerings in the ‘Traditional’ tea menu, which was a symphony of delicious finger sandwiches, scones, homemade cakes, tarts and pastries, and tea made with fresh leaves.
After tea, we decided to explore the property and came across the library that still houses books dating back to centuries. If you’re a bookworm, you will never want to leave this room. The halls of the mansion are dotted with antique paintings and have nuances of the original architecture. I was really amazed at how immaculately the current management has been able to preserve these authentic and key factors, even after all these years. its features at different nooks of the grounds. The estate is dotted with picturesque and delicate landscaping including a rose garden, croquet lawn, apple orchard, ancient cemetery, walled garden, a rivulet with a quaint stoned bridge crossing over, forested areas, cobbled paths, the romantic ‘secret garden’ and many others. My favourite, however, was the 18th-century original lily pond, where we relaxed for a fair bit of time on that summer’s evening.
Dinner was a quiet, yet luxurious affair, at the Saloon, again. We began our meal with a serving of fresh and juicy Heritage Tomatoes, with goat’s cheese mousse, tomato consommé and basil, a real treat in summer. The non-vegetarian started we opted for was the Duck Liver Parfait served with burnt leek, pear and pea emulsion. The meat parfait seemed delightfully light and airy, yet filling, with perfect vegetable accompaniments.
The vegetarian main course was a unique offering of Salt Baked Celeriac served with an oozy risotto of seasonal vegetables and tarragon cream. For meat lovers, you may enjoy the flavour-packed Garlic and Herb Cannon of Lamb with fondant potatoes, peas, broad beans and garlic puree. One can also visit The Saloon for dinner, available six days a week from Mondays to Saturdays, based on prior reservations. Although, the vegetarian options are quite limited, it is definitely a haven of gourmet delicacies!
The property is also accessible for retreats, for when your body, mind and soul need a break from the constant hustle of city life. With a yoga centre, wellness workshops, hikes, massages, nutritious meals and cookery demos, Hawkstone Hall’s 2-Day Escape and Energise Retreat is one for all the busy bees. The manor also makes for a great location for hosting corporate groups and team building activities. But most of all, this majestic Georgian manor is a dream wedding destination!
The extravagant Bronte Bridal Suite boasts 15 large sash windows with far-reaching views, a private entry corridor, huge bathroom suite, private dressing area, ‘emperor’ 7ft bed, banquette seating and a relaxation area. Every bride and groom is sure to feel pampered and well looked-after for the big day at Hawkstone Halls & Gardens. The imposing structure has its very own historic chapel, with working bells and an organ, where a couple can ceremoniously make their vows to each other in the presence of their family and close friends.
In addition to the Chapel, there are five other equally splendid rooms where once can celebrate their special occasion. The Wintergarden and the Refectory can accommodate between 150 to 250 people for a reception, and while the Ball Room is a setting for a more intimate affair, it is every bit as impressive as, if not more than, the others. One can also make use of the delicately designed Tapestry Room for a civil marriage ceremony or a small gathering of 100 people. And of course, on a balmy summer evening such as the weekend we had there, once can also take advantage of the expansive grounds to host a special celebration.
Hawkstone Hall & Gardens, with manicured lawns, floor-to-ceiling windows with natural light flooding through them, Georgian architecture and antique furnishings, is out of a period-drama and a great place for people of all ages. And whether it be a weekend away with your family or a loved one, or festivities, this estate is definitely one to keep in mind for a rejuvenating weekend.