A visit to Wallett's Court Country House Hotel and Spa
PUBLISHED: 13:01 14 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 February 2013
Holiday over and in need of a bit of an uplift? Head for Wallett's Court four-star country house hotel and spa in the heart of White Cliffs country for just the mini break you need
pictures by Manu Palomeque
With our holiday a fading memory, along with our tans, My Blonde Mate and I found the perfect antidote in an overnight stopover at the Grade II listed manor that is Walletts Court in the picturesque little hamlet of Westcliffe.
First recorded as the Manor of Westcliffe in the Domesday Book, the ancient house has been associated with key historic figures such as Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the brother of William the Conqueror. Local legend also has it that Queen Eleanor of Castile was in residence with her son Edward, who later became King.
In the last century Walletts Court became a working farm, until back in 1976 the Oakley family spotted its potential beneath a tangle of roses and evergreens and over the years lovingly restored it to its former glory.
Today it is a perfect blend of ancient and modern with three four-poster bedrooms in the original manor (MBM was pretty excited to be sleeping in the Black Princes Room) and 14 charming, contemporary rooms dotted about in converted Kentish hay barns. You can even go glamping in one of two upmarket tepees in the grounds.
My vast bedroom was in the largest barn, which also houses a small but perfectly formed spa, so after quickly admiring the floor-to-ceiling windows, wrought-iron bedstead, burgundy velvet sofa and a large en suite with separate shower cabinet, I rushed downstairs for a quick swim in the hydrotherapy pool before dinner.
MBM and I met up in the comfortable bar with a large open fireplace to compare notes, then headed through to the beamed Jacobean restaurant with its high-backed tapestry chairs and framed brass rubbings on deep burgundy walls.
On a wet Tuesday night an impressive seven of the 11 tables were in use and our neighbours included a mix of cross-channel visitors (we spotted French and American), families, business guests and couples.
The atmosphere is relaxed and very welcoming, helped by so many members of the Oakley clan working here, which gives a real sense of home from home.
Service throughout our meal was exceptional and the appealing menu boasts an impressive array of Kentish produce (St Margarets Bay lobster, Monkshill Farm pork, Alkham Valley beef, a daily fish catch from Deal and Folkestone).
We enjoyed Ellies Canterbury goats cheese mousse with a fresh garden pea and mint salad (MBM) and grilled mackerel with samphire, baby beet and horseradish crisps as our starters, followed by head chef Ryan Taskers own favourite for me, a positive tower of Romney Marsh lamb with a pine nut and parsley crust, while opposite me the fish dish of the day was going down a treat sea bream with spinach, saffron cream and yummy sarladaise potatoes.
Desserts are impossible to resist a summer pudding bursting with blueberries and strawberries and served with clotted cream ice cream, a sublime hot raspberry souffl teamed up with dark chocolate sorbet.
And if all that wasnt enough, after a great nights sleep (but no ghostly princes encountered in the manor), we were tucking into breakfast in the vaulted conservatory overlooking the pretty garden and fields beyond.
Wallett's Court Country House Hotel and Spa
St Margaret's-at-Cliffe, Dover CT15 6EW
01304 852 424
Room rates: from 140 to 330 depending on type, package (eg. spa and special breaks) and season
Dining: Dinner 7-9pm, two courses 34.95, three courses 39.95, Sunday lunch 12-2.30pm, two courses 16.95, three courses 21.95
Christmas: for the first time in 30 years the Oakley family will be opening Wallett's Court over the festive period for a lucky few guests: call reception for details.