After a morning of munching on many cupcakes, cakes, Quest cakes and croissants my main man whisked me away to Ashford Kent, just a thirty minute train journey from London St Pancreas followed by a five minute taxi to….
Eastwell Manor is suuuper old. It was first built in 1066 and has lived through two fires, but miraculously, it’s maintained all it’s traditional charm with no obvious signs of any modern updates. The floor boards creak and croak, the exterior stone is weathered and the interior design is delightfully refined and old school – but it’s presented beautifully and nothing is crumbling or cracking – it’s all finished to a high standard.
I was told to pack my sports kit(s) (of course!) and trainers as well as something smart for the evenings. When I arrived at Eastwell Manor’s grand gates I was instantly happy (and somewhat relieved). The drive is an impressive half mile long but big garish touristy signs spoil the otherwise rural, dignified driveway – so it was a relief to find the actual Manor had been left standing in all its natural glory.
Inside, the reception has dozens of trophies and awards all rather immodestly and ignominiously piled on top of each other (another aspect I thought the Manor could do without), but on the plus side a big log fire crackles in the corner and the place feels very homely. Our room was spacious – complete with a bathroom almost as big – and offered a sweeping view of the immaculately kept lawn and gardens below.
We had supper in the Manor’s restaurant with a piano player playing throughout, which gave a lovely romantic touch. The food though, was sadly not all it had piped up to be on the website. Our waiter, a young blonde boy, seemed brand new and extremely green! He had one or two collisions with other staff and bought me the wrong main dish and failed to deliver my drink the whole time we were there. I ate the fish he bought to save having to wait around another 45 minutes – but Charlie and I were both underwhelmed (at best) with flavourless, tired and overcooked food as well as the clumsy service.
But – that night we slept like babies in a wonderfully big bed and woke up ready to greet the day with gusto. After an espresso which I made appreciatively with the machine in our room, I headed out to explore the surrounding area by the best possible means – running. I ended up running six miles through fields and footpaths – taking some roads occasionally to interlink it all. I arrived back at Eastwell Manor rosy-cheeked and ready for a stretch and a few floor exercises which I did in the gym – (which is spacious and kitted with Technogym machines and weights). I definitely digged the gym.