Brocket Hall Estate, in Hertfordshire, lies 22 miles north of London and can claim the distinction of having been the country home of two of Britain’s prime ministers. It offers accommodation in its former coach house, constructed during the Georgian-era and now a Grade I Listed Building known as Melbourne Lodge.
The rooms are comfortable and elegantly furnished, featuring framed pictures of racing scenes from centuries past. Fittingly, they are named after racehorses. Races were run on the 543-acre estate’s private racecourse during the 18th century. When it comes to sport it’s now golf that’s played; on courses named after the political leaders who once lived at Brocket Hall.
From the sash windows of Melbourne Lodge, several of the guestrooms offer views towards Brocket Hall, which was built for Sir Matthew Lamb, a Member of Parliament, and completed in 1768. His grandson William, who inherited the estate, became both the 2nd Lord Melbourne and Prime Minister. Lord Palmerston, the husband of William’s sister Emily, Countess Cowper, was the second Prime Minister to live at Brocket Hall. Before becoming the Queen who defined an era of British and World history, Princess Victoria visited several times.
The bedrooms within Melbourne Lodge have tea and coffee making facilities, large flatscreen televisions and are equipped with bathrobes. Their bathrooms features bathtubs and come with complimentary Miller Harris toiletries.
Set well back from the roads and surrounded by the fairways and greens of one of Brocket Hall Estate’s two golf courses, the bedrooms within Melbourne Lodge are naturally quiet. Even with the window pulled open it’s possible to get a good night’s sleep.
Breakfast is served a couple of minutes’ stroll away in Watershyppes, the clubhouse restaurant of Brocket Hall Estate’s golf club, The Melbourne Club. Access to the golf club’s courses can be arranged for visitors. (Check about the availability of tee times in advance. Day membership is an option during the summer, including a round of golf, access to the academy’s facilities and a buggy).
The estate’s former hunting lodge is now the venue of the Auberge du Lac restaurant. The chic dining space opens on Sunday only for lunch but for dinner too from Wednesday to Saturday. Seasonal ingredients, including game, features on the Auberge du Lac’s menus. The dining room’s windows look out over the estate’s lake towards Brocket Hall.
Brocket Hall Estate makes a rewarding place to visit for a couple of nights, as that allows time to play a round of golf or stroll on the footpaths that meander through its expansive grounds. If you enjoy history, enquire about the possibility of taking a guided tour of Brocket Hall. You’ll be able to view the billiard table upon which Lord Palmerston is reputed to have expired and the room that Victoria enjoyed staying in. The hall is a popular wedding venue and intermittently hosts afternoon tea in the ballroom.
Accommodation in Melbourne Lodge is cosy and can be combined with a visit to London.
Brocket Hall, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, AL8 7XG, England.
Tel: +44 1707 368700
Brocket Hall is a 10-minute drive west of Welwyn Garden City and is accessible by taxi from the railway station. It’s close to Junction 4 on the A1(M), approximately 22 miles north of London.
Type of Hotel: Georgian Country House & Estate Hotel
Number of Rooms: 16 en-suite bedrooms in Melbourne Lodge, the estate’s former coach house. Wi-Fi is complimentary.
Price Band: Medium
Insider Tip: If you want to enjoy a special evening while staying at Brocket Hall, make a dinner reservation at the property’s Auberge du Lac restaurant. The seven-course Taste of the Season menu is a great way to treat someone special, particularly with wine pairings. If you’ll be dining at the Auberge du Lac on a summer evening you can sit outside on the terrace overlooking the estate’s lake.
Also plan time for a stroll around the 543-acre Brocket Hall Estate, which marked footpaths loop through. For a change in scenery and to sample a local brew, stroll off the grounds and pause for a pint at the nearby Red Lion or White Horse pubs.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
Stuart Forster is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specialising in food and travel related features.
Photographs by Stuart Forster