JC Stays: Washingborough Hall Hotel, Lincoln

Stepping back in time to a Georgian country house hotel for a historic city break


There’s a feeling, as you walk past the pair of stone lions into the grand entrance of Washingborough Hall, that you might have wandered back a century.

Tartan on the floor, leather-bound books line the dark wood shelves while a fire burns in the hearth; you almost expect a deferential butler to appear.

The reality has rather more modern-day luxury than an Edwardian country house party but with all the traditional touches you want from a stay in a country house hotel, plus staff who can’t do enough to help and a relaxed atmosphere that’s far from stuffy.

The hotel’s own pedigree stretches back even longer: the Georgian manor house is over 250 years old, set in three acres of gardens in the village of Washingborough.

It’s still easy to imagine it as a home to a rather eccentric squire or a calm post-war refuge for airmen — certainly easier than its later brief transformation into a nightclub.

Set two miles outside Lincoln, you can see the cathedral towering over the countryside as you drive along the country lane approach, close enough to explore while still feeling you’ve escaped city life entirely.

Now privately owned, the hotel’s 20 bedrooms are all decorated differently, ranging from singles to four-poster suites, including six in the converted Church House attached to the main hall and some dog-friendly rooms. 

The headboard and base of the huge and comfy bed in my own room appeared to have been inspired by old-fashioned luggage, with golden green velvet cushions and armchair adding a few luxurious touches, plus some rather more contemporary light shades (not to mention WiFi) to add a quirky modern touch.

The bathroom was equally huge with a proper claw-foot rolltop bath so big that I was in danger of submerging entirely, and its modern counterpart: a power shower complete with Noble Isle toiletries.

There are homemade biscuits on the drinks trolley, accompanied by tea and hot chocolate — plus a rather stricter notice warning guests against bringing their own alcohol.

Happily the bar downstairs solved that problem, as we pored over the menu for dinner. Because Washingborough Hall’s other claim to fame is its restaurant, a double AA Rosette winner overseen by its cordon bleu-trained owner and two award-winning chefs.

There’s a focus on using regional produce in the regularly changing menu: Lincolnshire honey and Lincolnshire plum bread both among the local ingredients making an appearance during our stay.

With our dietary requirements also passed on in advance, there was a choice of fish and vegetarian options, including more unusual dishes such as Jerusalem artichoke pearl barley risotto. My goat’s cheese souffle was meltingly good, my husband declared his fishcake the best he’d tried.

If you have more time — or a larger stomach capacity — there’s afternoon cream tea on offer too. And if the torrential spring rains of our visit have finally let up, the Sustrans Route One National cycleway and Lincoln’s own well-named Steep Hill are nearby if you need to work it all off.

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