Chicheley Hall: A Review of A Country Retreat, Right on My Doorstep

by Jo

Disclosure: Our stay was complimentary. As always all thoughts are my own.

I don’t know how I can continue to be surprised at what my nearby surroundings have to offer, but here we are! I’ve grown up, worked and lived in and around Milton Keynes for the best part of thirty years, and have only recently learned that there is a country house retreat just on the outskirts of the city. Driving to stay the night was an odd pleasure, because I am so used to driving a great distance to reach a staycation. But here I was, arriving just 10 minutes from my front door!

The History

 

Chicheley Hall is a Baroque house dating back to the 17th Century. It is Grade I listed. Originally starting its life under the ownership of the Pagnell family (of nearby Newport Pagnell), nowadays Chicheley Hall is owned by The Royal Society and caters to staycations, weddings and corporate functions. 

The Grounds

So let’s start with the best thing about Chicheley Hall: that it is set among 80 acres of varied, interesting and above all absolutely beautiful grounds. Your journey onto the estate begins up a lovely tree-lined avenue which on our visit was illuminated with different shades of green as the sun trickled through the leaves.

You’ll pass a quaint collection of bee hives along the way…

Either side of Chicheley Hall are vast meadows of wild flowers and it is wonderfully peaceful to stop here, prop yourself up on the fence and observe the wind flowing through the plants.

Closer to the house are the more manicured grounds. There are plenty of different sections and scenes: walled off vegetable gardens and bluebell flower beds framed by red brick. There are quaint gravel paths lined with pleached apple trees and walkways arched with lilac. Very pretty to stroll through.

To the back of Chicheley Hall is a huge green, to the end of which is a man made lake where geese and other birds reside.

Chicheley Hall looks grand and idyllic set among the established grounds. It feels like a real slice of English Country Heaven.

Peacocks!

As you stroll around the grounds you’ll be sure to encounter some beautiful creatures… you’ll hear them before you see them.

I haven’t seen a peacock in years! I counted three of them, although there could be more for how many peacock cries I heard during our stay! They’re like the icing on the cake for the outdoor experience of Chicheley Hall.

Isn’t he glorious?!

Our Room

Chicheley Hall has 48 rooms in total and offers a range of accommodation. Their lowest priced rooms are economy style, starting at around. £70-£80 depending on when you book. We were lucky enough to experience their grandest room: The Blackett Suite. This room is usually reserved for brides-to-be so it can be hard to get a booking!

If you’re an old soul with an appreciation for stepping back in time then the style of Chicheley Hall will suit you well. Our room was full of charm from a time before.

Situated on the second floor it is a huge room where the  even super king bed is dwarfed by the many full length windows, and sitting area. This room is pure, old fashioned romance.

The golden-hour sun streams through to create a beautiful yellow glow.

As a grade I listed building Chicheley Hall retains many of its original features. In the Blackett room there is an original ornate carving above the bed, and opposite a beautiful old fire place, mantel piece and mirror. Look close and you’ll find charming old grafitti from many years ago.

The room itself comes with a television, large wardrobe, robe & slippers, still bottled water and hot drinks station (and biscuits, important). The bathroom in relation to the grandeur of the bedroom is more modest but pleasant, with the usual offering of toiletries.

Like all windows in the room, there’s a lovely view down onto the Chicheley Hall grounds.

Our room and outdoor spaces were absolutely lovely; a real slice of English country beauty. However the common areas were where Chicheley Hall held less wow factor.

The bar which serves the entire building is very small and basic; strangely lacking any of the charm found in the rest of the building. It’s more conference centre than country mansion and I looked longingly out at the wonderful grounds as I sipped on my wine. The bar opens at 5pm so you’ve got a couple of hours to kill from your 3pm check in before you can wet your whistle. 

Our evening meal at Chicheley Hall was okay, but it didn’t blow me away. I found the pacing suspiciously fast with our starters arriving no more than 5 minutes from ordering, which made me question the freshness of the dishes. Whilst the sides to my steak dinner were lovely (their grilled yellow tomatoes are a treat) my ribeye was unfortunately one of the poorest I have eaten for some time. The crowning glory of my meal was dessert: a really lovely, really zingy lemon tart with raspberry sorbet which swooped in at the last moment to save the day.

Overall, the service that we received from staff was very friendly and well meaning, but green. A sense of chaos could be felt at times, particularly at breakfast where staff seemed to really struggle to keep up with the (steady) flow of customers arriving to eat. Any hope of a relaxing breakfast in the lovely little wood-clad room were vanished in the pursuit of a coffee cup… cutlery to eat with… a teaspoon for our drinks…

Chicheley Hall was a mixed bag for me and perhaps somewhere to enjoy a lower cost, convenient getaway although not somewhere I would reserve for a really special weekend away. It has wonderful character and you can probably tell that I absolutely adored the outdoor spaces; I really felt that relaxing country retreat effect as I walked about the grounds. Similarly, our room was grand, classic and beautiful and I slept like a baby in our super king bed. However, Chicheley Hall would really benefit from some investment in the experience of the food and drink to make the stay really shine. 

Things to do Near Chicheley Hall

  • The Chester Arms: a lovely pub just on the turning down to Chicheley Hall. 
  • Open Air Cinema: taking place at Chicheley Hall 26th May and more dates may be coming!
  • Cold Smoking Class: artisan food courses and workshops just a short drive into Great Linford.
  • Have a mooch around Olney: just an 8 minute drive from Chicheley Hall, this is a pretty market town with lots of shops and cafes.

You may also like

Leave a Comment