BARNETT HILL, GUILDFORD, SURREY
WHAT’S THE SCOOP? You will feel like lord or lady of the manor at this stunning 4* hotel. The Queen Anne-style mansion was built as a country retreat by Frank Cook – son of travel guru Thomas – but now offers a range of luxurious bedrooms and suites. Barnett Hill, a short drive from Guildford, has more than 25 acres of grounds to explore and is part of the Alexander Hotels collection.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Yes, as long as your dog is relatively small and weighs less than 10kg. Pets can stay in the recently-refurbished Courtyard rooms – with handy dog lead holders – for an additional charge of £25 a night, with dog beds and tasty treats available on request.
Although we were initially told pets had to stay off the carpeted areas in the main house, Ernie was warmly welcomed in the bar, as well as the relaxed Hub area and sunny outdoor terrace. Dogs can also be left snoozing in your room while you dine. Be sure to visit the hotel website before you arrive, too – here, you’ll find a bespoke dog guide for the hotel with information on walks, attractions and local vets.
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? Head for one of the luxurious rooms or suites. We stayed in Room 50 by the courtyard, away from the main house and with easy access to the grounds. Once upon a time, this was the stable block and a large wooden horse sculpture pays tribute to that.
I was pleased to find our stylish ground-floor room had air conditioning as we visited on one of the hottest days of the year. It also had an enormous bed, a bay window housing a table for two and a large flatscreen TV, as well as lots of other handy items such as an iron, fan and iPod dock. There were tea and coffee-making facilities as well as biscuits and magazines to enjoy, alongside information about the Utopia spa treatments on offer (a 55-minute full body massage will set you back £79).
The bathroom was a real treat, with toasty underfloor heating, a large, modern tub and separate rainforest shower. The complimentary L’Occitane toiletries smelled delicious and it was handy to also have a sewing kit and shower cap. Up at the main house, wellies and umbrellas were available for guests to borrow, too. As dog owners, the only other thing we would have liked to see at the hotel was a poo bin!
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Delicious. The Oak Room Restaurant has won awards for its food and uses only the freshest, seasonal ingredients. When we visited, I enjoyed a creamy pea risotto which was honestly one of the best I’ve ever eaten. And although the oak-panelled restaurant is rather formal, the service was attentive and friendly.
Lunch, light bites and afternoon tea are also served in the restaurant but be sure to make time for a pre or post-dinner drink in the cosy 1905 bar. It is named after the year the property was built and has a great selection of wines and spirits which can be enjoyed in front of a wood-burning stove.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? If you’re lucky, you may bump into VIP (Very Important Pooch) Daisy, the Alexander Hotels dog. Every week, the Cavachon visits all the hotels in the portfolio and enjoys long walks in the grounds.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? Start by exploring the hotel’s 26 acres of beautifully manicured gardens, complete with a giant chess set and croquet lawn. There are plenty of woodland walks signposted around the grounds – check out the handy map in your room to see where they go. There are also mountain bikes available to hire, if you’d like to get off the beaten track.
Barnett Hill is in the heart of the Surrey Hills, which is where you’ll find some of South England’s most amazing countryside. Blackheath Common is nearby, as is Chinthurst Hill, which is managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. There are great walks to be had by the banks of the River Wey, too – check out this 1.8-mile riverside stroll from Guildford town centre.
WHAT ERNIE LOVED: Exploring the grounds, being treated to not one, but TWO sausages for breakfast, “helping” with security in the bar
WHAT I LOVED: Feeling like lady of the manor, the stylish room, the delicious food
GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: Comfy king rooms at Barnett Hill start from £139 per night, including breakfast. Seasonal offers are always available – see the website for more details. For more information or to book, call 01483 893361 or visit the Barnett Hill website.