Home Hotel reviewsCountry house hotels Nutfield Priory, Surrey: a spa hotel stay with stunning views

Nutfield Priory, Surrey: a spa hotel stay with stunning views

This Hand Picked Hotel has 60 rooms, a two AA Rosette restaurant and a sundrenched terrace

by Sarah Bridge

A stay at Nutfield Priory hotel and spa

It is possible to have a perfectly relaxing stay at this Surrey spa hotel without going anywhere near the spa itself (although the spa is a big draw of this classic country house hotel). If the sun is shining at Nutfield Priory then all you need to do is to park yourself at one of the many tables on its lovely terrace at the back of the hotel and soak up the views along with the sunshine.

It doesn’t matter that the hotel grounds don’t stretch much further than the terrace itself, as miles and miles of lush, green Surrey countryside are spread out beneath you, as far as the eye can see.

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Built on the top of a hill, Nutfield Priory boasts some amazing views, not only from its terrace but from all its south-facing rooms (the highest view coming from Byron, a bedroom suite located high in the hotel’s tower) and while it’s true that the rural calm is broken every now and then by planes heading to nearby Gatwick Airport or smaller aircraft coming from Redhill Aerodrome, you soon tune them out and settle in for some serious relaxation.

terrace at Nutfield Priory

The terrace at Nutfield Priory is a lovely sun trap with stunning views across the Surrey countryside

Nutfield Priory view

The views from Nutfield Priory stretched for miles on a sunny day

My visit to Nutfield Priory was my fourth stay at a Hand Picked Hotel site – the group of 21 luxury hotels owned by Julia Hands and her financier husband Guy Hands. After visiting Fawsley Hall and New Hall, both in the Midlands, plus Brandshatch in Surrey, I was expecting a grand, historic hotel, and Nutfield Priory was exactly that. The aptly-named Grand Hall not only has a minstrels’ gallery and an impressive church organ – currently awaiting repair – but there are high ceilings, original wood panelling from the building’s history, and lots of ornate stonework everywhere.

Nutfield Priory's Grand Hall

Nutfield Priory’s Grand Hall is well named, with high ceilings, an historic organ and a minstrel’s gallery high overhead

Staff member Graham, who treated us to a brief tour of the hotel as he showed us to our room, informed us that the building was built by MP Joshua Fieldon in the late 19th century, and there is certainly a Houses of Parliament feel about Nutfield Priory, both in its historic stonework – designed deliberately to give the building the air of a much older building – but its long carpeted corridors and wide staircase. Guests staying at Nutfield Priory can choose their favourite spot in which to relax, with comfortable sofas and chairs dotted around various lounges, libraries, studies and of course, the terrace, and while occupancy was apparently high during our stay, it never felt crowded.

Bedrooms at Nutfield Priory

There are 60 bedrooms and suites at Nutfield Priory, ranging from Cosy Classic and Classic all the way through Superior and Deluxe to Suites and Master Suites. We were staying in Eliot, one of the many suites with literary names (such as Austen, Orwell, Hardy and Kipling) and at 55.5 m2 it was large, with a double aspect facing south over the Surrey and Sussex countryside.

Our bedroom, Eliot,

Our bedroom, Eliot, was spacious with a vast bed and windows on two sides to make the most of the views

As well as a framed superking bed, TV, writing desk, armchairs and fridge mini bar, there was also a charming drinks trolley which I instantly wanted for my own house.

stylish drinks trolley at Nutfield Priory

I loved our stylish drinks trolley which had complimentary snacks and cocktails

The suites all have complimentary drinks and snacks, so we could – and did – enjoy sampling what the room had to offer, including a half-bottle of Champagne, Espresso Martini and a Cosmopolitan cocktails, chocolate fudge and shortbread biscuits.

There were also all the amenities you’d expect and hope for in a luxury hotel room, including Nespresso-style coffee machine and fresh milk, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, a selection of magazines, towelling robes and free wifi.

bathroom in our Eliot suite

The bathroom in our Eliot suite was large and modern with a sink, bath, shower and complimentary toiletries

The bathroom was spacious, with a bath and connected shower (some suites have a roll-top bath), and a selection of toiletries, and it wasn’t long before we had opened the Champagne and turned the armchairs round so we could soak up the view.

Nutfield Priory spa

The 13-metre indoor swimming pool at Nutfield Priory

The 13-metre indoor swimming pool at Nutfield Priory

The spa at Nutfield Priory is just a short walk across the hotel car park, and is open from 6am until 9pm – very civilised. There’s a 13 metre indoor swimming pool, which is large enough for swimming laps (although it’s quite shallow at one end so watch your feet when you turn) and there’s about six or so loungers around the pool as well as many more outside on the grass.

Next to the pool is a hot tub and a fairly compact steam room and spa, so it might get a little crowded at peak times, although we had the place pretty much to ourselves at 8am on a Sunday in May.

large and well-equipped modern gym at Nutfield Priory spa

There’s a large and well-equipped modern gym at Nutfield Priory spa

As it’s also a members club for local residents, it is more than just a hotel spa, with a large, well-equipped gym, fitness classes, weights/ropes room, squash court and spinning studio – there’s also a cafe and range of spa treatments. It’s not as substantial a hotel spa as the likes of other Surrey spa hotels such as South Lodge or Pennyhill Park but is ample for an overnight stay and many couples we spoke to really enjoyed this little pocket of pampering.

Nutfield Priory restaurant

There are two options for dining at Nutfield Priory: you can dine at anytime during the day in the Grand Hall, Library, Bar or on the Terrace or go slightly more formal at the hotel’s 2 AA Rosette restaurant, Cloisters, which offers a menu of classic British dishes with a modern twist.

Cloisters is Nutfield Priory's 2 AA Rosette restaurant

Cloisters is Nutfield Priory’s 2 AA Rosette restaurant

The dining tables were lined up to make the most of the lovely summer evening views and its linear layout meant that you weren’t crowded next to other tables. Many couples had dressed for dinner and enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail on the terrace, which was also a great location for posing up a storm along with the views.

I couldn’t resist a picture with those views as backdrop

Cloisters restaurant menu

The menu, as promised, was modern British, with starters ranging from Chicken, leek and ham terrine, Leek velour and Beetroot and watermelon tartare.

I chose the Silent Pool-gin-infused smoked salmon with capers, dill, egg pollen and chicory, which was a generous portion if slightly lacking in taste – I had to ask for extra lemon as the dressing seemed to have been forgotten, and the egg pollen didn’t add anything to the dish, while Stephen went for the South Coast crab with tomato jelly, cucumber sorbet and lemon and herb oil, which was a massive hit and one of the stand-out dishes of the night.

Silent Pool-gin-infused smoked salmon with capers, dill, egg pollen and chicory

Silent Pool-gin-infused smoked salmon with capers, dill, egg pollen and chicory

South Coast crab starter with tomato jelly, ruby grapefruit, cucumber sorbet, lemon and herb oil and lemon balm

This South Coast crab starter with tomato jelly, ruby grapefruit, cucumber sorbet, lemon and herb oil and lemon balm was a great start to our meal

There was a great selection of main courses to choose from, including fish, chicken, lamb, steak and a vegetarian Wellington, but in such surrounding it had to be the Chateaubriand for two, with triple-cooked chips, truffle mash, béarnaise sauce, creamed spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and pesto salad.

The steak was cooked to perfection and was presented in style on a separate board, alongside the chips and spinach: the creamed spinach was so good – possibly due to the chef being particularly generous with the cream – that I had to ask for seconds.

The house red, from Tuscany bottled specially for Hand Picked Hotels, was the perfect accompaniment and apart from a few hiccups – our starters first being delivered to the wrong table and then disappearing altogether for another ten minutes – it was a really enjoyable meal.

Chateaubriand steak to share with triple-cooked chips, truffled mash and creamed spinach

Our Chateaubriand steak to share with triple-cooked chips, truffled mash and creamed spinach

We weren’t quite done yet though, tempted by the ‘Eton Tidy’ on the dessert menu, so we decided to relocate to the bar and  have that with a couple of British cheeses. The Eton Tidy was a fun and fresh take on the classic Eton mess while the Cornish Yarg and Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue were both excellent.

Eton Tidy dessert

The perfectly-formed Eton Tidy dessert

A hotel with a friendly atmosphere

What was particularly nice about Nutfield Priory is just how friendly everyone was. Most of the staff – with a few exceptions – were chatty and friendly, and that seemed to spill over into the other guests. There was a group of American women on a European tour staying overnight (dining together in a private dining room) who were as cheerful and friendly as you’d expect, but even the usually-reserved British were happy to chat over a nightcap, and we ended the evening putting the world to rights with two other couples, talking about everything from the best spa hotels to life ambitions. Quite the range!

Breakfast at Nutfield Priory

Sunday morning at Nutfield Priory was one of the most pleasant I’ve spent at a country house hotel. After a great night’s sleep – Nutfield is super-quiet at night, although I did hear the first plane arriving into Gatwick at around 6.30am as our windows were open – we were in the swimming pool and hot tub by 7.30am and had it all to ourselves, bliss.

breakfast buffet at Nutfield Priory

Part of the breakfast buffet at Nutfield Priory

Breakfast was pretty good, helped by the sunshine and those views, and the tables which were positioned to take full advantage.

The breakfast menu at Nutfield Priory

The breakfast menu at Nutfield Priory

There was a good range of buffet options as well as cooked breakfasts, and I really enjoyed my avocado on sourdough with poached eggs and spinach – I couldn’t get enough of the spinach at Nutfield for some reason. Stephen’s breakfast of smoked mackerel and scrambled egg on toasted bread was less successful, mainly because the promised basil and chive olive oil drizzle turned out to be chilli oil – a substitution made by the chef without warning – which made for a very different dish.

poached eggs with spinach and avocado

My poached eggs with spinach and avocado was a great start to the day

What made the morning particularly special was taking our second cups of (excellent) coffee out to the terrace in the sunshine and really relaxing, knowing that we still had several hours to go before we had to leave. There was just one thing for it – a game of Scrabble in the sun.

 Scrabble in the sunshine on the terrace at Nutfield Priory

Playing Scrabble in the sunshine on the terrace at Nutfield Priory

Hotel information and to book Nutfield Priory

Nutfield Rd, Redhill RH1 4EL, United Kingdom

+44 1737 824 400

Cosy Classic rooms from £375 B&B, Classic Double from £425 B&B and Suites – such as Eliot suite – from £525 B&B

Spa treatments can be found and booked here.

Want to discover more hotels in the Hand Picked Hotels collection?

Historic luxury at Fawsley Hall hotel and spa, Northamptonshire
New Halk hotel and spa, a hotel dating from the 13th century with its very own moat
Relax in the slow lane at Brandshatch hotel and spa, Surrey

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