Location: Herefordshire countryside
Perfect for: Celebrations and luxury group stays
A lavish pop-up hotel set in 1,000 acres of Duchy of Cornwall land with far reaching views to the Black mountains, Dewsall Court is the ultimate country house retreat. Available for exclusive-use hire (for celebrations, civil ceremonies and as a luxury self catering pad) you can also escape to one of its celebrity-chef supper clubs. What’s not to love!
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Arriving at Paddington station, our weekender bags packed, we see hordes of backpacked Glastonbury revellers building up a sizeable queue on the concourse and laugh, smug with relief. Happily, we whisk straight past, because we’re heading in the other direction for a luxury supper club event and overnight stay at the secluded estate of Dewsall Court, Herefordshire.
Around three hours later and a couple of G&Ts down the line, we’ve arrived at Hereford station and jump into a taxi which takes us the short drive (15-20 minutes) to Dewsall. Sweeping through the entrance we get our first glimpse of Dewsall Court – a splendid Georgian house, blanketed in verdant green ivies and creepers. It’s alluringly beautiful.Monsieur 2 sighs, “I think we’re about to have a quite magical evening!” I concur and excitedly we head inside via the side entrance, stepping through a wide, Tolkeinesque door that leads into an industrious scullery scene.
Kitchen staff, waiting staff and none other than top chef John Burton Race (the star guest chef of tonight’s Supper Club) smile welcomingly at us as we enter, all the while making busy in preparation for our evening feast.
We’re greeted warmly, and taken to our room for the night, a recently converted barn that sits on the edge of a rolling paddock with its very own lake.
Our bedroom must be at least 15 feet high and maintains its original vaulted shape with exposed beams, white walls and seagrass carpeting. Under a corner recess the large double bed looks like a luxurious hiding place and, we think, quite perfect should one be in the mood for a spot of fun and romance.
Neutral, clean lines are the order of the day here with key objects lending the space a kind of high end beach house feel. As Monsieur 2 makes a fresh cafetière of coffee from the selection of hot beverages available, it’s the sight of the bathroom that really brings the space into its own “Come and look at this wonder Monsieur!” I exclaim.
The bathroom a cream wooden panelled and spacious room with large corner shower and, what has to be the pièce de resistance, a raised egg-shaped bath with a picture perfect view of the meadow. We make use of the luxury toiletries and fluffy white towels as we get ready for tonight’s main event.
Walking through the main door into the opulent hall we’re instantly met with the hum of guests of all ages chatting excitedly. We’re quickly furnished with a glass of champagne, and mingle, admiring the gorgeous Georgian decor and table, which is elegantly laid with an eclectic set of antique crockery and classic silverware.
Feeling like a character from Downton Abbey I clink glasses with Monsieur 2 – the first from a competent pairing for the the night – and we greedily participate in the arrival of the first course, a confit of wild salmon with poached rhubarb, tomato and basil consommé.
“Wow!” we both exclaim.
The clear broth – as fragrant as the first whiff of greenhouse tomatoes – transforms a simple poached salmon dish into one that’s quite extraordinary; almost exotic. It is demolished within minutes.
Awaiting our next course, we talk to our amiable hosts Jane (the lady of the manor), her daughter Sam, and her husband, who tell us that Dewsall Court was their family home, but stood derelict 25 years ago. Their knowledge and sheer love of the place is inspiring – they have spent years painstakingly restoring and curating Dewsall Court into a place people will want to come to and experience – and boy have they done it well. They make us feel right at home, and we immediately warm to them.
The second plate arrives: crispy quail eggs, parmesan and pea shoots offer an exciting dimension to the unctuous, creamy asparagus risotto tinged with faint scent of truffle.
A robust Malbec is poured and we are met with our third plate – the main course; a herb crusted best-end of Welsh lamb with lemon thyme, polenta, pancetta, tomato and chive jus. It’s a comforting combination of flavours that piques the palate; and the lamb is so succulent I ask Monsieur 2 whether he thinks it would be rude to eat with my fingers. Our host encourages us on!
We’re beginning to feel heady with the wine and warmth of conversation by the time a trio of English strawberries arrives: a silky smooth iced parfait, a moreish strawberry sable biscuit, and a lively lemon posset further spiked with vodka-poached strawberries and sorbet. It’s a fitting ending to an evening where the food has been simple, yet refreshing and sophisticated with some fantastic twists from the kitchen that have added extra wow-factor.
Coffee follows and Monsieur 2 suggests we find an area in the hall to sit and finish coffee with a liqueur. An alcove under the stairs proves perfect and, as we finish off our drinks, we say our goodnights to the other guests.
Sleep is blissfully silent and unfettered and I’m awoken by the gentle gabbling of geese and their goslings in the paddock outside. Monsieur 2 is already awake and showering “We’ve slept in!” I call out “No YOU have slept in!” He quips.
We have a sneaky suspicion that we’re the last up, and after getting our bags together for a return to the house, we discover we were right: we’re the last to breakfast. But what a breakfast it is. A delicious full English with plenty of fresh coffee, juice and a groaning bread and pastry table.
Taking a last walk through the myriad of Dewsall’s different garden environments we find ourselves frantically planning the next perfect opportunity to come back; to another supper club next year, definitely, but also to come back and take Dewsall over for a civil ceremony or private party (happily, the house can be hired for exclusive use).
There seems to be no limits to what the family at Dewsall can offer in this stunning, grand house nestled in this idyllic and lush oasis, and as we look back from our taxi window, we’re already dreaming of our return. supper club and luxury self catering in Hereford exclusive use party country house
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