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Wotton House, Dorking, Surrey
A wonderful Italian garden - England's first - created by botanist John Evelyn is the centrepiece of this 17th-century country house hotel. There are Roman temples, illuminated at night, charming grottoes, mosaics, Italian fountains and 13 acres of landscaped gardens to explore - Hunter wellies and umbrellas are at the ready by the oak front door. The interior is just as characterful. Medieval archways grace the wedding chapel and the columned Gothic Old Library is exquisite. A £6 million refurbishment (2017) brought the hotel on trend with the odd nod to Evelyn's legacy - think vintage railway clocks, decorative flower ceramics and terrariums, and a stag's antlers adorned in fanciful bowlers and top hats. The leisure club offers a pool and hot tub.
Exploring the Roman temples, grottoes, fountains and gardens of the magnificent 13-acre estate is a highlight of any stay.
The hotel is in private grounds and countryside a few miles outside Dorking, where you'll find a busy high street and several cafés and pubs.
By car: around 1 hour 30 minutes from London, 2 hours 30 minutes from Bristol and 5 hours 30 minutes from Manchester. There is free parking on site.
By train: There are direct trains to Dorking Station from London Victoria (59 minutes) and London Waterloo (50 minutes). The hotel is around a 15-minute drive from Dorking Station. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
Wotton House is great for couples, families, business travellers, weddings and friends looking for a luxurious countryside escape in picturesque and ornate surroundings. A nice touch is the Times newspaper cutting, dated 1878, on display, which was found by a workman in an archway above a door during refurbishment in 2001.
Service & Facilities
We love the 'Bug Hotel' for insects in the garden with its logs, bricks and fun 'No Vacancies' sign.
- Swimming pool
- Tennis court
- Pet friendly
- Free parking
- Free Wi-Fi
The cute plastic frog on the roll-top bath is a fun addition to bath-time, whatever your age. Our favourite room is the Primula suite with its retro floral china tea service and dial telephone and vintage travel trunks on top of the wardrobe.
Superior Room, Executive Room, Deluxe Room, Junior Suite
Facilities include: ensuite with H2k toiletries, TV, free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee facilities
Food & Drink
The fabulous seaweed, cucumber and apple smoothie is far more delicious than it sounds. Our favourite dish is a heritage tomato starter which tastes divine and is artistically presented with edible flowers.
The 1877 Restaurant: formal fine dining, modern British and French cuisine. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mains from £15.95.
The 1877 Bar: cocktails and light bites. Plates from £8.