England’s first wine hotel has opened and it’s only an hour away from London! The Resident sends travel writer Judith Baker to raise a glass to the English wine scene, while entirely immersed in it…
Oenophiles rejoice – England’s first wine hotel has opened! Denbies Vineyard Hotel, recently opened at Denbies Wine Estate, is a charming new venue built on the site of the old farmhouse, offering lovely views across the vines and the Surrey Hills.
Located in an area of Oustanding Beauty with the pretty town of Dorking just a short drive away, it’s the perfect location for a weekend getaway from the capital – we reached Denbies in less than an hour from London.
There has been a working vineyard on the family-owned Denbies since 1986, and the 265 acre estate is the largest in Europe. It produces some wonderful wines, including the delicate white Flint Valley, delicious red Denbies Redlands and Sparkling Bacchus. With the current surge in popularity of English wines, these bottles can now be found on most good supermarket shelves and are being drunk at some of the most sophisticated soirees.
And now you can stay at the heart of the Denbies vineyard in the new 17-room Denbies Vineyard Hotel. Reached via the Estate and its winery, tasting rooms and restaurant – which have been open to the public for some years – it’s a stylish boutique hotel that makes the most of its great views and blends into the natural surroundings of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Cyclists and hikers can enjoy the trails through the vineyard and, understandably, this is a popular spot for weddings and parties. The day we visited preparations were underway for a wedding celebration outdoors, no doubt toasted with Denbies’ sparkling wine, which ranks alongside some of the finest French champagnes.
Our room on the ground floor looked out over the vineyard which, in the early autumn sunshine, was awash with colour. The décor is comfortable and unfussy, with king size beds in each room, Fairtrade teas, coffees, hot chocolate and biscuits, an in-room digital safe, TV with Freeview, complimentary Wi-Fi, broadband socket, and USB charger.
‘After settling into our room, we set off to explore the vineyard with resident wine expert Anne Denny, who took us on a secret trail among the vines’
The wine theme continued in our elegant bathroom, which had fragrant Caudalie toiletries made from grape skins in a French vineyard. Accessible rooms are available on request as are inter-connecting rooms, making it ideal for families and groups.
After settling into our room, we set off to explore the vineyard with resident wine expert Anne Denny, who took us on a secret trail among the vines, explaining the various processes and pointing out the different grapes. There was even time to stop and enjoy a small glass of bubbly Greenfields wine, which Anne produced from her rucksack while we admired the view.
The hotel has two cosy cabanas on its grounds, where we sampled the hotel’s signature Surrey Hills Charcuterie Board paired with more of its outstanding wines. All produce including the cheeses, meats, smoked salmon and bread is locally sourced within 20 miles of Denbies. In fact, the property has been designed to achieve carbon neutral status, reducing the impact on the environment.
Dinner is served in the intimate Vineyard Restaurant, which again makes excellent use of the views, with dishes including local lamb, salmon and beef (surprisingly reasonably priced with starters from £6, mains from £16 and desserts from £6).
This is an ideal spot not just for those with an interest in or a taste for wine, but anyone wanting to escape the city for a breath of fresh air and a touch of luxury in an elegant and interesting environment.
A double room at Denbies Vineyard Hotel starts from £155. Denbies Wine Estate on London Road, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6AA; 01306 876 616; denbies.co.uk
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