Laura Ashley is one of those brands which continually surprises me. Case in point – did you know that the label has its very own group of Hotels? Until a couple of weeks ago I certainly didn’t.
As a brand which offers everything from fashion to furniture, homewares to accessories, all in the most delightfully British manner, I guess it’s a no brainer to set up a location which can showcase all of this and more to the public. When I was invited along to their Manor Hotel in Elstree for afternoon tea, I didn’t even need to look up the hotel online to get a picture of what would await me. I already had visions of a perfectly British country abode full of quirky fabrics, stylish interiors and twee tablewear. As you can imagine the invitation of tea and cake amongst such a setting wasn’t one I was planning to turn down.
Along with a whole bunch of other bloggers from various different areas (seriously I think this was the biggest blogger event I’ve ever been on), we commenced what felt like a giant school trip by hopping on our ‘blogger bus’ from Kings Cross, where myself a few others trooped right to the back of the bus like giggling school girls and then quickly regretted our choice when we realised how bumpy the ride was. Although the Manor feels distinctly remote, nestled amongst some gorgeous English countryside, the location of Elstree in Hertfordshire is actually only around 9 miles (about 40 minutes by car) outside of London and pretty easy to get to, especially from the North of the city. So if you’re looking for a slice of countryside without travelling too far, this could be just the ticket.
Even with all my predictions, arriving at the Hotel via a small country road, parking up next to acres of green and trees and stepping off the bus to be faced with a grand yet welcoming building that rivaled Liberty’s (all black and white timber) still surpassed all my expectations. Standing in the site of an old Tudor House, this hotel was bought over by Laura Ashley in 2012 and underwent a full makeover to add the brands quintessential stamp to the building, while still retaining most of the natural features. It’s set amongst ten acres of gardens and woodland and even boasts views of central London while being comfortably out of the hustle and bustle of the city.
We were led through the stylish reception room and into the main dining hall, which we took over for an afternoon of tea and cake alongside beautiful views of the vast grounds. Afternoon tea itself was just as classically British as you might expect from a brand such as Laura Ashley. Along with my date for the afternoon, Sarah, we munched on salmon and ham and mustard finger sandwiches, warm scones with jam and cream and a selection of homemade cakes pretty enough to satisfy any eager Instagram-er. We chatted blogging and business, weddings (Sarah had recently got engaged and little did I know I was about to be!) and trips into space over endless cups of tea (they even accommodated my current Redbush addiction) served from Laura Ashley bone china teapots (what else?). The room was bright and airy, with pretty chandeliers hanging from the traditional beams and huge bay windows overlooking the gardens. It was so relaxing, I almost forgot we had other activities on the agenda and became quite content munching macarons and talking shop with the other bloggers.
After being well fed and watered, we were taken on a tour of the hotel to get a real feel for the atmosphere. As you might imagine, the Manor was the perfect mix of rustic country abode and stylish serenity. Rooms were decorated beautifully in various colour themes, adorned with matching Laura Ashley bed linen, furniture and printed artwork on the walls. Many of the rooms came with stunning views of the gardens, including the giant chessboard on the back lawn, and every one offered a totally tranquil setting, away from the busyness and stress of city life and without any sound of traffic making its way into the area.
Downstairs there were several cosy nooks with which to enjoy a drink or a moment of relaxation and there was also a beautiful courtyard at the back where we spent the remainder of our afternoon snapping outfit pics for each other under the pretty arches and attempting jumping photos on the giant chess board.
If you’re looking for a relaxing stay not too far from the amenities of London, this Hotel could offer you the best of both worlds and is a great spot for a meal or afternoon tea away from the usual haunts.
Thank you to Laura Ashley for a lovely afternoon! (and thanks Danielle for the outfit pics)