JC Stays: De Vere Wotton House, Surrey

After a multimillion pound refurbishment the 17th century mansion hotel makes an even more glamorous getaway


It’s hard to believe the chaos of London is just a short train ride away. Set in sprawling, 13-acre grounds in Dorking, Surrey, De Vere Wotton House is as grand as ever but after a £6 million refurbishment, even more of a dreamy staycation.

With 16 extra suites added to the 17th century country mansion house, the total number of rooms now comes to 127. And these bedrooms are Instagram-worthy, all framed maps, soft grey furnishings, retro radios and pleasing views of either the gardens or the manor house entrance — not to mention superfast WiFi.

Outside is just as tempting — especially if you’re lucky enough to choose a sunny day to explore the picturesque Grade II listed grounds. The hotel boasts the first Italian garden designed by botanist and diarist John Evelyn (yes, the inspiration for Crabtree & Evelyn) who was born and lived at Wotton House in the 17th century.

Although we’re blessed with our own beautiful parks in the capital, these gardens are something special. There are secret grottos, imposing temples, intricately carved statues, romantic waterfalls, and, of course, striking floral displays.

Perhaps the hotel’s most striking feature, though, is the tree rising unexpectedly from the lemon-coloured seating area in the hotel’s restaurant, 1877. Not only a pleasant backdrop for diners, it brings some of the house’s outdoor magnificence indoors.

Meals are gorgeously presented and delicious, too: a particular highlight was dessert, mouthwateringly named the “chocolate trio volcano with salted caramel lava”.

I watched as the friendly waitress poured the lava all over the chocolate, satisfyingly disintegrating into a delightful chocolatey, salty, caramel-y concoction that was hoovered up in an instant.

But the hotel isn’t all looks and no personality: there are touches of fun throughout, from the board games on display for visiting families and the rubber frogs in the bath to the boot room with complimentary Hunter wellies so guests need not dirty their shoes while trudging through the grounds.

You’ll find this combination perhaps most of all in the spectacular Old Library, a popular wedding and private dining event space, along with the newly-refurbished Evelyn Suite, which can fit up to 180 people theatre-style or 120 for a banquet.

As I gawped, open-mouthed, at the picturesque Old Library, its fairytale pillars and grand, high ceilings making a sophisticated location for a ceremony, a passing staff member asked: “Are you planning your own wedding?”

While I don’t have a simcha of my own lined up here, it would certainly be a good choice — with space for 200 guests, those beautiful grounds and stylish interiors would make a fine backdrop. Just imagine the photos!

It’s worth knowing though that while De Vere Wotton House is happy to host Jewish weddings, if you’re strictly kosher, it’s unable to offer outside catering.

But who needs a simcha as an excuse? For a luxurious weekend escape, look no further than Surrey.

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