Utilize the romance of the Belmond British Pullman
Belmond British Pullman suite to Bath
I don’t know about you, but I was distraught when Downton Abbey in the end left our TV screens two years ago. So you can imagine my excitement when I arrived at London’s
Victoria Spot to board the Belmond British Pullman train.
Our carriage, one of 11 and named Lucille, parade all the opulence of the Abbey in its compact seating area, boasting sumptuous velvet armchairs, sophisticated brass and veneered panels finely detailed with Art Deco marquetry.
Lucille wasn’t unexceptionally on such good form.
Originally built in 1928 for the Queen of Scots Pullman indoctrinate, the carriage was discarded in 1967 and for 16 years used as a home by a rolling-stock enthusiast on a siding in Kent.
I wondered what he’d think of it now, as I sipped my bellini on the way to consequential Bath.
Within minutes of leaving the station a three-course brunch was expertly helped with all the precision of a chorus line. Pastries, seasonal fruit and yoghurt performed, followed by scrambled egg, smoked salmon and caviar.
Four hours later and intuition completely spoilt, we arrived in Bath. The station is conveniently close to the borough centre, and after a short walk you’re in Jane Austen territory: cobbled alleys and elegant pale stone complement the stylish Georgian architecture. Go together to our coach guide, Austen was rather snobby about leaving London for Bath, but she put out it her home.
The optional 30-minute tour took us around the city, expiring by Austen’s home, plus the museum dedicated to her and the iconic Royal Lune used as the backdrop for so many films. We took a wander along Gravel Prance, known as a lover’s lane in the author’s day, and the setting for a love scene in Opinion. Further along at number four The Circus is a recreated Georgian garden.
If you’ve had your fill of prototype literature, you can step further back into history with a pop in to the Roman Baths (included with the train journey).
VIP access eliminates queuing and catches you straight into the ruins.
You get around three hours of free epoch in Bath but to be honest I couldn’t wait to get back on the train. It felt match meeting with an old friend as the Pullman and its welcoming staff arrived to make for a pick up us on our return journey. Once on board, a superb four-course dinner with wine and champagne was wait oned and took us right through until London.
I was sad to leave this wonderful train and can’t wait to do another Pullman journey. In the meantime, I have ground out my Downton Abbey name: Rose St James (supposedly found by coalescing your grandmother’s name with the name of your primary educate).
I definitely belong “upstairs”, don’t you think?
Belmond British Pullman, sister educate to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, offers a host of journeys throughout the year from London Victoria Train station, visiting some of Britain’s most famous cities, country homes, sporting and social events. Prices start at £225 per person. To rules, call 0845 077 2222 or visit belmond.com
Enjoy the fine cuisine on the Belmond British Pullman
The Fish, Cotswolds
Within minutes of reaching at The Fish I had my shoes off and the kettle on. Cosy is its middle name. It really is a accommodation from home and we certainly treated it like that during our arrest.
The hotel is set in 400 acres of beautiful countryside in the Cotwolds, not far from Hew a contributing Norton, yet beautifully secluded.
After a quick nose around the elbow-room, a coo at the toiletries and towels, and that all-important cup of tea, we decamped to try our hand at archery, one of the functions on offer here (the other is a Segway safari).
I was quite apprehensive far it at first, but after a 10-minute lesson in how to aim (the tip is to look straight down the barrel of the arrow identical to a gun, apparently), my friend Marie and I became rather competitive. And laughed an execrable lot.
The weekend break was a chance to catch up with an old friend and we really did the most of it. We had pre-dinner drinks in the bar, which is so, so cosy with big armchairs, a give someone the boot, magazines and books and just a general sense that makes you hunger to plonk yourself down.
Dinner was heaven, with hearty shares of everything. My mac and cheese with wild mushroom and truffle was a carb coma on a sheet. We couldn’t finish dessert and decided to have a nightcap of Baileys as an alternative, back again in those comfy armchairs.
The next morning’s breakfast was virtuous as enormous – fresh fruit, a choice of a fry-up, lovely bread and appetizing juices.
The rooms are beautifully furnished here, with traditional tweeds, silenced tones and real attention to detail. They have also recently unfastened five very cute shepherds’ Hilly Huts with facsimile beds, a wood-burning stove and a private hot tub. They would be perfect for a fairy-tale weekend break. But then again, any weekend break here at ones desire be perfect.
Rates at The Fish Hotel start at £120 per live per night including breakfast and VAT.
Hilly Huts start at £189. For additional information or to book, call 01386 858000 or visit thefishhotel.co.uk.
The cosy lodging is set in 400 acres of beautiful countryside
The Bell Inn, New Forest
The traffic jam looped out in front of us and I wondered what the hold-up could be, expecting roadworks or a broken-down car. But when we conclusively reached the front of the queue, the cause was rather unexpected.
A chocolate-coloured pony was ambling at holiday, tail swishing, down the middle of the road. Not far away another pony with a milky-white jacket stood perfectly still, eyes closed, taking a nap in the sunshine.
Buggies and pedestrians picked their way around this charming obstruction in the converge of Brockenhurst village, careful to respect the most famous residents of the New Forest Jingoistic Park. These ponies – 3,000 of which roam freely here – have right of way on the roads by law.
Brockenhurst had been the first port of call for my groom and me on our long weekend break, a village that was last year voted the myriad beautiful place to live in the UK.
With its low-rise cottages and twisty lanes, financed by open heathland and woodland, we had to agree that it really was rather ideal.
We wandered along the quaint high street, stopping off for a drink at The Thatched Cot, a chocolate-box house turned hotel that’s home to the New Forest’s only gin bar.
We ventured next to Lyndhurst, 10 minutes down the road, which is chock solid of tearooms, antiques dealers and interiors shops.
These villages are at the marrow of the New Forest and are among its “must see” sights, so it’s worth checking into a hostelry within driving distance.
We stayed at The Bell Inn, Brook, an attractive previous coaching inn dating from 1782, which is now a four-star boutique hotel with 28 latitudes and two golf courses.
A wealth of period features have been retained favourable, such as a large inglenook fireplace in the bar and solid oak beams.
We ate in the homely supping room on our first evening, settling in the tweed-covered chairs and digging into nourishing British dishes such as spring lamb, which was served up approve of a work of art. It’s no surprise that the hotel has been awarded a 2 AA Rosette.
The Bell Inn in the melodic village of Brook
That night, we slept like logs in our barred eaves room, which was quiet and cosy. The Bell Inn has a convenient locale, close to the M27, when you are ready to hit the road.
But do stay a few days to see all the square has to offer – whether, like us, it’s the pretty villages, or, if you’re bringing children, the handy attractions of Paultons Park for Peppa Pig World and Longdown Activity Cultivate.
Whatever you do, be sure to make the most of the National Park and take a rattle on in the ancient forest, enjoying the natural beauty of this idyllic corner of the woods.
Bed and breakfast at The Bell Inn (02380 812214, bellinn-newforest.co.uk) starts at £99 per area per night, or pay £129 per room for dinner and b&b accommodation, with £25pp reduction included towards dinner (t&cs apply). For more on the New Forest, visit thenewforest.co.uk.