The lure of a spooky stay on the estate of one of Britain’s largest Elizabethan homes, was an irresistible draw – perfectly timed with Halloween themed activities falling in the half term break.
We set off with trepidation as the wind was howling and the weathermen had frightened motorists with forecasts of heavy rain and gale force winds, perfect conditions for a spooky stay! Luckily for us the storms didn’t materialise on our journey and we arrived safely at the picturesque little market town of Stamford in Lincolnshire. With its fine sandstone buildings, spotless streets, tranquil meadows, and above all, exceptionally friendly people, it’s no wonder that this gem received the accolade of Best Place to Live in Britain by the Sunday Times this year.
Situated on the High Street was the William Cecil Hotel, which aptly describes itself as ‘quirky luxury’. We were very warmly welcomed by unpretentious reception staff who were extremely helpful, attentive and efficient.
Each of the 27 classic, chic and luxury rooms in this family friendly hotel is unique, being individually themed and decorated. We were shown to our rooms; the adults had the large Queen of Palmera suite which was furnished with an eclectic mix of dark wood carved furniture, fresh Egyptian cotton bedding, embroidered silk bedcovers and bright woollen rugs. The theme of sailing ran throughout the room with prints of ships on the wallpaper and walls. The enormous bathroom had a sparkling roll top bath, a luxurious walk-in shower and twin sinks with an array of organic toiletries at hand.
The children were in the neighbouring Chinois room which had two very comfortable single beds, with an oriental theme on the wallpaper, curtains and in the bathroom.
To our children’s delight, there were two pumpkins with carving kits that formed part of the spooky stay welcome, which was very thoughtful.
New for this year, the ‘Spooky Stay’ package at the William Cecil Hotel includes a family ticket on the early evening Spooky Tour of Burghley House. This star attraction makes the break highly desirable for families with children seeking the thrill of being deliberately frightened. However, the tour is not for the faint hearted or the very young (organisers recommend it for the over 7s).
We had the most fantastically frightening experience on the Burghley House Spooky Tour, as our guide Martin Tempest took us on a night tour of some of the dark and more sinister places including the cellars, stables and long winding corridors. He was an excellent storyteller who snarled and hissed his way through the spine chilling history of the Elizabethan house whilst the rest of the ghoulish team successfully made us jump out of our skins on several occasions. They had us scared, shrieking and laughing, all at the same time! No wonder this high quality tour was sold out; what makes it so scary and ultimately so much fun is that numbers are limited to small groups to ensure that you are fully drawn into the creepy atmosphere. Just watch your back folks!
The evening’s dinner at the William Cecil Hotel was far from a trick, rather a special treat, with restaurant staff only too eager to assist. We were seated in the softly lit Georgian style room and selected our meals from the seasonal menu. After starters of bubble and squeak with a poached quails egg and dandelion salad, we ordered: pan seared king scallops, with celeriac puree and tempura battered courgette flowers; Brixham cod with creamy champ potato, scorched baby leaks and a broad bean vinaigrette – with perfectly balanced flavours; seared skate, confit baby gem lettuce, sweet potato with brown shrimp with caper and thyme butter, this was a colour and palate sensation. To finish, we had Blueberry cheesecake with balsamic and cracked black pepper strawberries – just heavenly!
Above:The excellent food is another good reason to recommend the William Cecil Hotel. It was freshly prepared and beautifully presented by talented chef Phil Kent and it tasted absolutely delicious.
At bedtime thoughts of spooks were all forgotten as we sank into our feather pillows and settled down for a comfy night’s sleep.
In the morning there was a continental style buffet as well as a full English cooked breakfast. We went on the recommendation of our cheery waitress Bethan of the house special, waffles with syrup – so glad we did as they were the best we’ve ever tasted!
The William Cecil Hotel also offers a late check out at 1pm for an additional £20 which is great for families needing the extra time for a more relaxed departure.
For a one night family stay in a luxury room for two adults and two children with a full English breakfast at the William Cecil Hotel, plus the complimentary Spooky Tour at Burghley House start from just £178.75 to book visit www.williamcecil.co.uk or call 01780 750070.
Note: In addition to the four family rooms that can accommodate up to 3 children, there are also two interconnecting suites for larger families.The William Cecil Hotel is part of the Hillbrooke Hotel Group which specialise in quirky luxury hotels on or near stately homes across England.
The day time tour of Burghley House and Gardens for two adults and two children costs £34 http://www.burghley.co.uk
By car, London to Lincoln is 92miles, less than a two hour drive straight up the A1.
By train: Eastcoast mainline from Kings Cross, journey time 1hr 30mins.
Enter our Give away: For your chance to win a day time family ticket for the House and Gardens at Burghley House just tell us what you and your family usually do for Halloween.The winner will be chosen at random using Rafflecopter. Good Luck!