Visiting The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa in Midhurst is a bit like stepping back in time. Narrow cobbled streets weave through the old town centre, filled with quaint pubs, boutiques and wine bars. Ruined Cowdray Castle crumbles a stone’s throw away on its outskirts, and perched alongside a medieval duckpond is the hotel and spa. An ancient timbered coaching inn, its charm lies in its twisting corridors, dark beams and history imbued at every turn.
A Festive Treat: The Spread Eagle in Midhurst, West Sussex
The Spread Eagle has 39 characterful and unique rooms and suites, all furnished with antiques that nod to its centuries of history. For a real treat, there’s the Queen’s Suite – so-called because Elizabeth I was reputed to have stayed in it in the 16th century. Situated in the oldest part of the hotel, it comes complete with an impressive four-poster (not the same one she slept in, needless to say), latticed window panes and an original ‘wig closet’, dating back to 1430 and believed to be the only one still in existence.
More 21st century comforts are to be found in the bathroom, with its deep roll-top, claw-foot tub, and in the adjoining private sitting room, which boasts a large screen TV.
At the heart of The Spread Eagle is its elegant oak-beamed restaurant, serving up locally sourced ingredients alongside a variety of Sussex wines from local vineyards (and those from further afield, too). The menu focuses on classic British food, like seasonal pumpkin soup to start, and grilled salmon with pickled fennel, mashed potatoes and tartare sauce, or twice-baked cheese soufflé, for the main. Dessert is a decadent warm chocolate and olive oil cake, or cinnamon-spiced pavlova.
There’s plenty to do in the hotel itself, whether that’s settling in with a book and a local beer next to the roaring fire in the lounge bar, or sitting down to afternoon tea and a glass of sparkling Sussex wine in the light-filled conservatory.
The hotel also has a modern and welcoming Scandinavian-style spa, complete with pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. There’s a gym and several treatment rooms to take advantage of the menu of massages and facials using luxurious Temple Spa products.
If you can bring yourself to venture out of the hotel’s cosy nooks and crannies, there’s plenty to do in the local area, from shopping in Midhurst’s elegant boutiques to stopping off at one of the region’s farmers markets to stock up on homegrown produce.
A 20-minute walk away is ruined Cowdray Castle, which at Christmas time hosts an exciting after-dark illuminated walking trail through its grounds. As well as a variety of laser and light shows, plus soundscapes and interactive installations, there’s also a festive street food village dishing up tasty burgers and churros, and a bar serving local ales and hot chocolates. Little ones can visit Father Christmas in his grotto.
THE FINAL WORD
If you’re looking for a cosy, low-key winter staycation, then The Spread Eagle ticks all the boxes, from its atmospheric wood-beamed rooms and carefully chosen antiques, to its roaring fires and chilled-out spa.
BOOK IT: From £301, including afternoon tea, Light Up Trail tickets, a glass of sparkling Sussex wine or a hot chocolate and homemade cookies on your return, overnight accommodation including full English breakfast, and full use of the spa facilities and indoor swimming pool. hshotels.co.uk/spread-eagle