Travel review: The Cottage In The Wood and 1919 Restaurant, Malvern Wells
What comes to mind when you think about the Malvern Hills? Glorious views? Endless skies? The freshest of air? Meandering country walks?
My partner and I enjoyed all of those, and more, just by stepping out through the front door of our grand and unusually-named hotel, The Cottage In The Wood, in Malvern Wells, Worcestershire.
We started our brief visit with a walk around the pretty, upmarket town of Malvern, popping into a few of our favourite clothes shops, checking out property prices in estate agents' windows and occasionally getting a glimpse of fabulous views below the hillside town.
Little did we know that those views were set to get even more spectacular as we made the four-mile journey from the town to our base for the night.
Nearing the hotel, the road began to rise and twist and rise again until we pulled into the car park, stepped out of the car and drank in the panorama which opened up before us.
Bathed in winter sunshine, the Vales of Evesham, the Cotswolds and the Severn Valley opened up like a map. We were so high up that birds soaring high about this stunning landscape were somehow on the same level as us - we felt like the lark ascending.
The family-run Cottage In The Wood, set across seven aces of wooded slopes, is actually spread across three separate buildings; the Main House, Georgian Coach House and Beech Cottage (hence the name), comprising 30 bedrooms in total, as well as the 1919 Restaurant and Bar.
The Cottage In The Wood is currently undergoing a £2.5 million refurbishment programme which has already transformed the ground floor of The Main House into a place of Georgian splendour with a modern twist. Interior design studio Nelson Design is overseeing the redesign of the entire property, which will eventually include an orangery and spa.
After checking in, we headed over to our comfortable room, one of 19 in the Coach House.
Generously proportioned, with a self-contained hallway, we were delighted to discover it even had its own terrace, complete with table and chairs - talk about a room with a view! Had it been just a tad warmer - we might have lingered longer to drink in more of the amazing scenery.
Talking of drinking though, we instead headed for a pre-meal treat in the elegant, upmarket bar as dusk descended. A couple of wines and craft beers later it was time to dress for dinner.
The 2 AA Rosette 1919 Restaurant continues the "modern Georgian" theme, with dark, dramatic walls, and floor to ceiling windows. It bubbled with a warm, sophisticated atmosphere as we tucked into our starters; mushroom tea with confit duck egg yolk for me and venison lasagne trompettes for my partner, followed by charred soy glazed tenderstem with mushroom for me and monkfish for her.
All were beautiful presented and served by attentive but unobtrusive staff.
In the restaurant the next morning we tucked into our full English breakfasts (mine veggie) next to one of those windows, that amazing view before us again as we plotted the day's details.
If you're planning to walk in the Malvern Hills then The Cottage In The Wood has a trump up its sleeve; it has its own ready-made walk, quite literally on its doorstep, with a map available from reception. Allow 50 minutes to an hour to step out and drink in the views.
If walking isn't really your thing then there is still plenty to explore nearby. We were particularly taken with the delightful town of Ledbury, stopping off at one real ale pub, The Horseshoe Inn, which even features its own wood-fired pizza oven.
Elsewhere culture vultures can head to Elgar's birthplace; The Firs, in Upper Broadheath, or the imposing Snowshill Manor.
Further afield, the Cotswolds is within striking distance and the city of Gloucester is a 50-minute drive away, so you really won't be short of ways to fill your time.
Address: The Cottage In The Wood, Holywell Road, Malvern Wells WR14 4LG
Phone: 01684 588860
Rooms from £85