Set just in front of Hampton Court Palace, the magnificent seat of the Tudor dynasty and Henry VIII’s summer digs, refined stay the Mitre Hotel has many of the mores enjoyed in merrie olde England: lashings of fine wine, tunic-busting Sunday roasts, regally dressed quarters. But nowadays, this 17th-century former inn has given the past a lick of paint (and handsome de Gournay wallpapering); the wine is popular Provençal rosé Whispering Angel, served in a world-first concession; and the restaurant pairs timeless views of the River Thames with well-travelled Brit cuisine (crab toasties with harissa, Cornish sole meunière, bombolini doughnuts…). Altogether it's a rich, kingly feast, of the sort those next door would well appreciate.
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A Signet Spritz (a zesty concoction of Lemon Drizzle gin, grapefruit, sparkling wine and honey) for each guest
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from SG$178.09 (£100), including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates usually include a Continental or full-English breakfast.
The residents-only library has accrued an impressive collection of books and you’ll find the honesty bar here – after all, reading is thirsty work. With the enormous green stretch of Hampton Court Gardens and Bushy Park – watch out for the deer – beyond, there are plenty of picnicking places; the Mitre will pack you a hamper full to the brim with homemade morsels: houmous and baba ganoush, prawn and lobster cocktail, caprese salad…
Due to Covid-19 precautions, electrostatic cleaning will be carried out in all rooms, track and trace details will be taken and tables in the restaurants will be spaced out for social distancing. Express check-in and out will be available and staff will have temperatures checked. In line with new government guidance, dining times have changed. At Coppernose, breakfast will be served from 7.30am to 10am. It will be closed for dining from Monday to Thursday (with a drinks service on Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm to 9.30pm); on Fridays food will be served from 12 noon to 3pm and 5.30pm to 8.30pm and from 12 noon to 6pm on the weekend. In 1665 lunch will be served from 12 noon to 3pm, dinner from 5.30pm to 8.30pm (from 12 noon to 8pm on Sundays).
At the hotel
Riverside terrace, library with honesty bar, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: free daily wine and cheese tasting (from 4pm to 4.45pm), flatscreen TV and DVD player, free King’s Ginger liqueur, Birchall tea and Lavazza coffee, Bramley bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The Royal Rooms feel just that bit more special, with their four-poster beds, bright cheering colours and the odd freestanding bath tub. Or go the whole ‘I’m Henry the eighth, I am’ by booking his namesake suite. Here you'll have the view of the palace and the Thames, and you’ll be gifted a full bar to drink freely from and tickets to Hampton Court.
There’s plenty of grassy ground to cover so you won't regret packing some flats. Some jaunty boating gear might come in handy too.
For guests with mobility issues, the hotel has a lift and ramps on request. One of the Culture Rooms also has a roll-in wet room.
Well-behaved dogs over the age of one can stay for £20 a night, per pet, but mustn’t be left unattended. They'll get a bed, bowl and bag of treats. Pet-friendly rooms on the ground floor have terrace access and dogs are welcome in Coppernose restaurant. See more pet-friendly hotels in Hampton Court.
Children are very welcome, and nearby parks and playgrounds make up for the lack of in-room entertainment. There are kids’ menus in both restaurants and some rooms have bunk-beds, too.
Smalls and juniors will love the palace garden’s maze and other outdoorsy fun, and older kids’ satisfaction may depend on their interest in history.
One Culture Room and two Royal Rooms have sweet bunk-beds for little ones and a selection of toys. A baby cot can also be added to these rooms for £20 a night.
There’s little to do on site, but Hampton Court will capture the imaginations of would-be princesses and knights – they have plenty of activities and trails for children and a puzzle maze to get lost in (one of the world’s oldest, no less). Nearby Bushy Park is home to the descendents of Henry VIII’s hunting deer (now allowed to roam in peace), and here you’ll find the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. Hobbledown Adventure Farm, an hour’s drive away, offers more animal encounters. Further afield, older kids can be tossed and turned on the thrilling rides at Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park. The hotel can help with bike hire, too.
For children staying in the bunk-bed rooms, there's a supplement of £10 for breakfast and £18 for dinner for each child. The dedicated children’s menu has tot-tempting dishes that are healthy too: chicken Milanese with broccoli and petit pois, linguini in pomodoro sauce, parmesan and pea risotto – with chocolate brownies and Eton mess for afters. Highchairs are available on request.
No need to pack
Bring any favourite toys and books.
The surroundings are perfect for family picnics and baskets can be tailored to tot’s tastes.
The hotel recycles and serves locally sourced seasonal fare in the restaurant, and culinary director Ronnie Kimbugwe has plans to cultivate a herb garden, apiary and smoker on the Orangery roof.
The restaurant’s rotunda offers the best eye-view of the Thames, or take to the terrace when the sun sparkles on the water.
Smart-casual for Coppernose, bring some finer raiment for 1665.
There are two, both of which are overseen by culinary director Ronnie Kimbugwe, who formerly worked under Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s (a fine credential for genteel Brit dining). A champion of local producers, he’s partnered with Hampton Court’s gardeners to provide vegetables for the kitchen and has plans for an onsite herb garden, apiary and smokery. The Coppernose takes its name from Henry VIII’s nickname when cash-flow issues saw his visage imprinted on cheap copper coins. It’s the more take-it-easy of the two, where dogs are welcome. The menu is eloquent yet not too fussy, with the likes of Atlantic lobster and prawn cocktail with sriracha, and Lincolnshire suckling-pig porchetta with apple and celeriac salad. 1665, named after the date the inn was built, is a dressier brasserie where the centrepiece bar keeps things lively. The menu leapfrogs to different countries, with chicken ‘bang bang’ salad and Goan seafood curry, but it’s all anchored by fine British produce: Hampshire rib of beef, Cornish sole… Both eateries have a stonking Sunday roast offering, the feasts of Cotswolds chicken with trimmings, Lincolnshire suckling pig and such will undoubtedly become a favourite. And, there are dedicated kids’ and vegan menus in both. Afternoon tea (1pm–5pm) fills your table with sweet and savoury goodies and can be booked with Bollinger, if you wish.
Things look decidedly rosé out on the terrace, where the Mitre can claim the world’s only concession of cult Whispering Angel wine in their boat-shack bar. A chilled glass or two – or a magnum if that won’t cut it – makes the perfect pairing to an afternoon of lazy river surveying. The drink lists at 1665 and the Coppernose have an exclusive of their own, too: the hotel’s home brew, Six Wives ale. Plus there are big-name champagne houses, wines that range in price from very reasonable to drink more to forget, and a comprehensive edit of indie spirits.
In 1665, lunch is from 12 noon to 3pm on Saturdays, dinner from 6pm to 10pm, till 8pm on Sundays. In Coppernose, breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10am, lunch and dinner from 12 noon to 6pm (Monday to Friday), till 10pm Saturday and 8pm Sunday.
The Mitre sits in state just beyond the gates of Hampton Court Palace on the banks of the River Thames.
The hotel’s well-placed for those arriving at international hubs: fly into Heathrow Airport and you’ll be just a 30-minute drive from the hotel; those coming from Gatwick will have a 40-minute journey. The hotel can help to arrange a taxi on request.
From London Waterloo, South West trains go direct to Hampton Court Station in 30 minutes. The station is in Zone 6 so you can use your Oyster Card for the journey.
The surrounding area is well-served by London Overground, but if you want to visit historic spots like Kingston and Richmond, Chessington and Thorpe Park theme parks and the Surrey Hills, a car may come in handy. If arriving from Heathrow, follow the A312 road and look out for brown heritage signs to the palace. If arriving from central London, take the A4 road. Valet parking is available at the hotel for an extra charge. There are also 10 spaces reserved for guests at Hampton Court Station (a five-minute walk away) and plenty of space at Hampton Court Green car park (a 10-minute walk away) – charges apply for both.
In summer, catch a river boat from Westminster to bob along the Thames in gentle fashion – the journey to Hampton Court takes around three hours and you’ll pass iconic London sights, such as the WWT London Wetlands Centre and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew along the way.
Worth getting out of bed for
At the hotel, you can retire to the residents-only library to flick through the many tomes and maybe learn a few more facts about the wealth of history here – there’s an honesty bar in there if you get thirsty. Or sit on the terrace and watch the river roll by as you sip a cool glass of Whispering Angel. But, well, one of the most important monarchical landmarks in British history is worth crossing the road for. Hampton Court Palace is where crucial moments in British history have been forged, dynasties have risen and fallen and the country’s finest architects, artists and gardeners have made their mark. Henry VIII swiped it from his lord chancellor Thomas Wolsey to use as a summertime pleasure palace and – while much has been rebuilt – there’s still signs that point to its decadent days: the still playable royal tennis courts, the kitchens that churned out upwards of 1,000 meals a day, the restored ‘wine’ fountain in the Base Court. The Great Hall and its priceless artworks, the astronomical clock and watching chamber are all important stops on the tour too. As are later additions: Sir Christopher Wren’s Baroque façades and Capability Brown’s 250-year-old Great Vine, the Great Fountain and Sir William Kent’s swirling mythological murals around the Queen’s Stairs. In summer, after dark, ghost tours tell of doomed wives, hidden skeletons and other grim anecdotes. The gardens, spanning more than 60 acres, make for magical wanderings, with flowering sunken gardens, statue-studded privy gardens, fertile kitchen beds and the country’s oldest puzzle maze, which kids will enjoy getting lost in. Bushy Park stretches out beyond and here you’ll see the descendents of Henry VIII’s hunting deer (now allowed to roam serenely), and little Smiths can play in the Diana Memorial Playground.
The Thames is also the source of genteel entertainment: rent a rowboat for a lazy afternoon on the water, or hop on a Thames River Boat to drift along to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew or upmarket Richmond for riverside bars and designer and indie shops. Further afield, tweens, teens and big kids at heart will enjoy the heart-pumping rides at Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park, or running wild in the gloriously green Surrey Hills.
The hotel restaurant is set to rule over the local dining scene, but there are some varied dine-out options worth checking out close by. Italian eatery La Fiamma has verdant views of Bushy Park and an extensive menu covering all the motherland favourites (and a few restaurant-specific dishes), plus kids are welcome and there’s a killer cocktail list. For katsu curries, flavourful sashimi and warming donburi, try Sakuraya Kiniku, across the bridge. And elevated pub grub – rump-steak sandwich with tarragon mayonnaise, Sri Lankan seafood curry, waffles with caramelised bananas – can be found at the Mute Swan, just next door.
Across the river, Dish is an eco-conscious, plastic-free café which serves fresh juices and milkshakes and a range of light dishes – salads, paninis – with veggie and vegan options too. Try to get a seat in the small courtyard.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this royally favoured boutique hotel close to majestic Hampton Court Palace and unpacked their courtly finery and the learnings of their come-to-life history lesson, a full account of their ‘it’s good to be the king’ getaway will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Mitre in Surrey…
Hampton Court Palace has seen a lot over the years: Henry VIII’s gotta-catch-em-all marriages, treason and trials, live Shakespearian performances, the commissioning of the King James bible, the planning of World War II’s Normandy landings… And, the Mitre Hotel, once an inn to sleep the overspill of Charles II’s courtly guests, has been a silent witness to history in the making from its fortuitous seat just opposite the palace gates. It still sings with bygone stories, but a much-needed makeover, courtesy of the group behind noble Smith stablemate Beaverbrook, has brought it back to life in full colour, with a modern approach to the pomp and circumstance seen across the way. In lieu of tankards of mead there’s a bar dedicated to free-flowing Whispering Angel wine, in a world-first concession, and the hotel’s home-brewed Six Wives ale. Instead of stuffed swan and pain perdu, banqueting at elegant restaurant 1665 – and lunching at laidback the Coppernose – favours fine British produce and global flavours, and we’re sure Henry – who commissioned a wine fountain for his courtyard – would appreciate the free daily wine and cheese pairings. Rooms don’t dwell on the past: colour schemes of sea foam and candyfloss pink, coral and moss green and sienna and dove grey feel coolly contemporary – with the odd bronze bath tub and four-poster bed. However, there are cheeky nods to notorious monarchs: the ‘do not disturb’ sign depicting Henry in the tub and a free bottle of King’s Ginger liqueur. It’s a quieter grandeur than that of the palace, but the Mitre’s no less regal for it.