Henry James observed that few things in life can be more agreeable “than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”. Not everyone adheres to the ritual in the way James had in mind. But the novelist could rest content knowing that at Tylney Hall in Hampshire, tea is taken seriously, with white cloths and china cups, served in a stately lounge with a view of a croquet lawn.
In fact, from the imposing red-brick façade with its fountains, to the wood-panelled luxury within, and the gardens and grounds, Tylney gets the country house thing right.
The current grade II-listed building, dating from late Victorian times, opened as a hotel in 1985 and is part of the Elite Group which also runs the Grand in Eastbourne.
Its rooms are traditionally appointed, with bright floral quilts and curtains, and beyond the main building, lie some pretty suites in the orangery and other bits of the grounds. We were housed in one of the two grand suites, a salon of dark oak and theatre-sized, tasselled curtains. The bathroom had a Jacuzzi bath, power shower and Molton Brown toiletries, though my wife thought it was poorly lit for making up.
The suite had a four-poster bedroom, plus sofa-bed with huge plasma TV in the drawing room. Dinner in the Oak Room is jolly, with vegetarian and fish dishes. Facilities include outdoor and indoor pools, spa and tennis.
Rates: From £102 pp
New Year's Eve: From £240 pp inc gala dinner and overnight stay
Tel: 01256 764881