It isn’t easy to stand out among such a competitive field – I’m talking about the ‘gorgeous Cotswold hotels’ market, of which there are many – but Dormy House more than meets the challenge. From the moment I walked in the door and saw the cosy sofas and roaring fireplaces, to the friendly welcome at reception and then finally, arrived at The Snug, one of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, I knew I was in for a treat.
Located on the massive Farncombe Estate, which is perched on the hills above Broadway, one of the prettiest towns in the the Cotswolds, Dormy House was originally a 17th century farmhouse and has been owned by the same family since 1977. However while the building is charming, it is certainly not fusty or old-fashioned, and the spa – handily in the main building – could hardly be more modern, with its sleek 16-metre infinity pool, salt steam room, tropical shower, glass-fronted Finnish sauna and outdoor hot tub.
An afternoon felt very luxurious here, relaxing on the many loungers round the pool, wrapped up in the robe hanging in my room – but it was our room itself which was particularly special. Called The Snug, it was actually a set of rooms – a lounge, a bathroom and a separate bedroom – and was one of those places where you enter and feel instantly at home (and spend the next day trying to work out how you could make your own home look as lovely). It wasn’t the grandest room I’ve stayed in, or the largest, or with the best view (there wasn’t a view) but it was warm, cosy and made you forget straightaway you were actually in a hotel.
The bathroom was immaculate, with a massive walk-in shower and the deepest bath I have even bathed in: a massive tin tub in which I soaked for a good hour, my magazine propped up on the soap dish stand and sipping a pre-dinner G&T while listening to music from the bedside radio. Even the in-room iPod, which isn’t usually my type of thing, scored points because you could easily order cocktails through it – and the little room owl was very cute.
We’d decided to eat in the more informal Potting Shed at the front of the hotel as breakfast would be in the Garden Room restaurant, and it was certainly a more relaxed atmosphere, with music blaring out from the walls (they did turn it down) and a friendly but casual service. I started with wild mushrooms on toast with crispy duck egg (£8) while my guest had the and the potted Brixham crab with warm blinis (£9) – the crab was delicious and the wild mushrooms were divine, perfect for a cold wintry evening.
As the occasion called for something hearty and comforting we decided to push the boat out and share the 20 oz T-bone steak (£40) cooked in the new ‘Bertha’ charcoal and wood-fired oven – it was very nice but plonked down without ceremony, which was a shame and an opportunity missed and the baked beetroot we’d ordered had been completely forgotten. The seasonal greens were terrific though and after all that we were way too full for dessert.
While the Potting Shed wasn’t particularly the kind of place to linger long after your meal, thankfully there were no shortage of places to sit so we relocated to one of the front rooms by a roaring fire which was being well-looked after by the many staff, and enjoyed coffee and petits fours before turning in.
The bed was beautifully comfortable, the sheets top quality and it was with a heavy heart that we headed for breakfast the next morning, knowing it would soon be time to leave our Snug and return to the real world. Thankfully breakfast was excellent – you can’t fault a place which offers free Bloody Marys and Bucks Fizz as a matter of course – and came with a whole range of cooked options from dippy eggs to kippers, smoked salmon and ‘the Full Dormy’.
There was just time for a walk around to check out some of the other rooms, some of which, like the Rose Cottage were separate to the main building. However I was delighted to see that none, in my view, were as lovely as my Snug.
Dormy House, Willersey Hill, Broadway, Worcs WR12 9LF