“Assured cooking in historic setting” - AA Inspector
Our Inspector's view
Back in the 1880s, fox hunting was an aspirational pursuit, and one wealthy Victorian brewer-built Hambleton as his hunting season holiday home, as any chap of substance would. A water feature, otherwise known as Rutland Water reservoir (now a nature reserve) arrived on the hall's doorstep in 1970 to enhance the splendour of the setting, and Tim and Stefa Hart added the icing on the cake when they bought the place in 1979 and created a country-house hotel of distinction. It is a handsome place that delivers grandeur on a human scale and was always meant for entertainment and pleasurable pursuits, a laudable aim which continues today with elegant bedrooms, chic public rooms and a fabulous restaurant to complete the sybaritic picture. Chandeliers, oil paintings and linen-swathed tables provide reassuring formality, and the service throughout is charming, professional and engaging. The food is refined, creative and firmly rooted in sound culinary thinking. The hotel has its own bakery, so the bread is a cut above, and everything from the canapés to the petits fours is beautifully made and delivered via tasting and à la carte menus. Marinated scallop with crème fraîche and apple is a well-balanced and delicate starter. Slices of soft, sweet scallop are layered with translucent slices of apple and apple gel, with pops of salty black caviar. It might be followed by Launde Farm lamb, pickled aubergine, goats' curd, mint caviar – the two perfectly-timed, sweet and flavoursome pieces of lamb sitting on top of tender, dark green cavolo nero. Puffed rice and pumpkin seeds on top add more texture and a sweet, slightly smoky pepper stew topped with a sliver of aubergine completes a dish packed with flavour. Finish with a well-risen almond and Amaretto soufflé, quince and honey ice cream.
Facilities – at a glance
Credit cards accepted
- Seats: 60
- Private dining available
- On-site parking available
- Wheelchair accessible
- Steps for wheelchair: 2
- Assist dogs welcome
- Open all year
- Wines over £30: 400
- Wines by the glass: 19
- Cuisine style: Modern British
- Vegetarian menu
Also in the area
About the area
Measuring less than 20 miles (32.4 km) across, Rutland has a resident population of around 37,000, and apart from Oakham and Uppingham most of its inhabitants live in tiny villages and hamlets like Exton.
The county’s name possibly derives from the 11th-century word ‘Roteland’, denoting the red colour of the soil in the east of the region; or it could have been part of the estate belonging to an early landowner called Rota. Whatever the origin of the name, one thing is certain, and that is that this tiny county has had a complicated history. The modern bit starts in 1974 when it was dissolved into Leicestershire. After more than 20 years of protest by unrepentant Rutlanders the county was happily reinstated in 1997.
The major tourist draw of Rutland was created in 1975, and is Rutland Water, a body of water which, at 5,000 acres, is the largest man-made reservoir in Europe. As well as a mass of wildlife and water pursuits such as windsurfing and sailing, Rutland Water also has its own church, which is now a museum, sitting on an outcrop that juts out into reservoir.
Places to Stay
Recommended things to do
Why choose Rated Trips?
Your trusted guide to rated places across the UK
The best coverage
Discover more than 15,000 professionally rated places to stay, eat and visit from across the UK and Ireland.
Choose a place to stay safe in the knowledge that it has been expertly assessed by trained assessors.
Plan your next trip
Search by location or the type of place you're visiting to find your next ideal holiday experience.
Read our articles, city guides and recommended things to do for inspiration. We're here to help you explore the UK.