Hotel review

Hotel review: The Inspector stops at Denbies Vineyard Hotel in Surrey

Inspector calls out UK’s largest winery as it opens 17-room hotel – but says as a place to stay ‘it still needs some fermentation’

  • Denbies is the largest winery in the UK, with 260 acres of vines, and one of the first to open a hotel
  • There are 17 rooms in a new annex next to the original farmhouse, but the inspector was not impressed
  • He found his room “clinical” – the headboard was made of “a form of plastic” and the tub was also plastic
  • Remember… The Inspector pays his way – and tells it like it is…

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It’s not quite Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. Even so, the late evening sun picks row after row of vines up the hill to a ridge of tall, mature trees.

Couples sit outside with an assortment of wines produced on the estate – sparkling, red, white and rosé. The walkers went out with their dogs; joggers huff and puff. Just outside Dorking.

Denbies is the largest wine estate in the country, with 260 acres of vines. It’s also one of the first to open a hotel, with 17 rooms in an unfriendly new annex next to the original farmhouse.

The Denbies Vineyard Hotel in Surrey has 17 rooms in a new annex next to the original farmhouse

One of Denbies' bedrooms.  The inspector didn't like the interiors and said his room was

One of Denbies’ bedrooms. The inspector didn’t like the interiors and said his room was ‘stark’ and ‘clinical’

This soulless modern block contrasts sharply with the lush, rambling surrounding countryside.

It’s like something you’d expect to find at a golf club after the committee decided rooms could be a good source of extra revenue.

I had hoped for earthiness, but I went metallic. My room is austere, clinical. The headboard is made from a form of plastic; the tub is plastic. There’s nothing on the walls but a footprint of a street in Dorking. There is an image light without an image.

Al-fesco option: the inspector describes the hotel's vineyard-side patio as

Al-fesco option: Inspector describes hotel’s vine-side patio as ‘attractive’

Denbies is the largest wine estate in the UK, with 260 acres of vines

Denbies is the largest wine estate in the UK, with 260 acres of vines

Dinner is served on the veranda of the farm and the inspector described the food as

Dinner is served on the farm’s veranda and the inspector described the food as “fresh and wholesome”.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

The Denbies Vineyard Hotel is located at London Road, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6AA. B&B double rooms start from £165. For more information call 01306 876777 or visit denbies.co.uk.

Evaluation:

Dinner and breakfast are served on the farmhouse’s veranda, a bright and airy space that extends out onto a pretty patio.

Along with the menu, I’m handed a few wine tasting notes and opt for the 2018 Bacchus, described as “fresh and full, with melon and lime flavors and a dry, crisp finish.”

“But could I also try a bit of Flint Valley?” I ask.

“Of course you can,” said the restaurant manager.

Turns out the Bacchus is heavy and I can’t find its “clean dry finish”. But the Flint Valley is excellent.

‘Can I change Bacchus for Flint Valley?’

‘Of course you can.’

The menu is straightforward; the food is fresh and healthy, although some people may want red meat rather than chicken or fish.

In the morning you have time to discover other Denbies entertainment: a yoga and Pilates room, a farm shop, a plant centre, a brasserie, a takeaway café and the “vineyard train” is ready for his first visit of the day.

A lot is happening at Denbies and the reputation of its wines is growing. But as a place to stay, it still needs a bit of fermentation.

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