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Boys Hall in Kent: easygoing opulence just an hour from London

 (Boys Hall)
(Boys Hall)

In the eighteen months that it has been open Boys Hall in Ashford, Kent has built a loyal local fanbase thanks to its quietly spectacular restaurant, and even managed to bag itself an award — ‘World’s Best Country House Retreat’ — at last year’s National Geographic Traveller (UK) Hotel Awards. It’s a sure start from first time hoteliers, husband-and-wife duo Kristie and Brad Lomas.

Kristie and Brad Lomas (Brad and Kristie Lomas)
Kristie and Brad Lomas (Brad and Kristie Lomas)

Where?

Nestled between a trainline and the M20, the location doesn’t have masses to recommend it — but it is perfect for touring Kent’s wine region with many pretty vineyards just a short drive away.

Style

 (Boys Hall)
(Boys Hall)

Boys Hall certainly has curb appeal. It’s a bijoux country manor with gorgeously manicured lawns, a petite rose garden and even its own pocked-sized pub, painted in a regal deep red, and housed in one of the oldest parts of the building.

Built in 1616, Brad and Kristie Lomas bought the Grade II listed hall in 2019 and spent the majority of the pandemic transforming it into an opulent treasure trove of Farrow & Ball wall colours, restored beams and antique furniture. The warm and attentive refurb does ample justice to a space that has, in centuries gone by, played host to the likes of Charles I and Samuel Pepys (rumour has it, in fact, that Charles stayed the night at Boys Hall while fleeing Cromwell’s men during the English Civil War).

The feel is very much modern, easygoing opulence. Undeniably charming.  (Boys Hall)
The feel is very much modern, easygoing opulence. Undeniably charming. (Boys Hall)

Stepping into the main entrance hall you’re immediately enveloped into the bustle of chattering guests, generously furnished sofas and easy chairs, and roaring fireplaces — each bedroom is decked out in jewel tones with statement headboards or four poster beds. The feel is very much modern, easygoing opulence. Undeniably charming.

Which room?

 (Mark Anthony Fox)
(Mark Anthony Fox)

Each of the nine bedrooms is named after something or someone significant to the building — from Sovereign (so named because it was the room in which 17 gold coins were discovered hidden in an old flower pot, in 1972) with its dramatic, carved four poster bed to the elegantly petite, sage green De Bois (where I stayed), named after the original family who owned the Hall.

There are lovely touches in each room: Debonair teas, Lost Sheep coffee pods, all small batch and compostable — as well as mugs by a local potter James Kirkpatrick (of fáilte studio) and luxuriant Pelegrims toiletries (the brand is the brainchild of Haeckel's alumn, Alex Verier), while any of the suites come with freestanding, roll-top tubs. It’s worth the extra charge for one of these, the tub certainly adds a sense of occasion.

Bishop’s Quarter, one of the ‘super-suites’ features the original 16th century wood panelling and gold roll top tub in which to wallow like a Jacobean monarch (Mark Anthony Fox)
Bishop’s Quarter, one of the ‘super-suites’ features the original 16th century wood panelling and gold roll top tub in which to wallow like a Jacobean monarch (Mark Anthony Fox)

Personally, my favourite room was the generously proportioned Bishop’s Quarter. One of the ‘super-suites,’ it features the original 16th century wood panelling and gold roll top tub in which to wallow like a Jacobean monarch.

Food & Drink

 (Mark Anthony Fox)
(Mark Anthony Fox)

I’d recommend stopping into the petit pub — in the oldest part of the building — for a cocktail before hitting the restaurant for dinner. The restaurant is housed in a light-filled and newly-built conservatory — though the word doesn’t really do it justice. The English oak frame was erected by Kristie’s father, a master craftsman, and feels like it could have all been part of the original build, while there’s a grand, red brick fireplace at one end and a gorgeous bar at the other keep the sense of opulence that you’ll find in the rest of the Hall.

 (Boys Hall)
(Boys Hall)

The food is excellent. Head chef Charlie Dilworth spotlights fire cooking and world flavours. A pork belly main, for instance, comes with deliciously dark, sweet pickled cherries and jalapenos to cut through the luxurious fat — a complete delight.

Breakfast at Boys Hall (Joe Howard)
Breakfast at Boys Hall (Joe Howard)

A continental breakfast is included as part of the room and is generous enough to not need any hot additions. Toast, pastries, fruit and yoghurt — be sure to try the honey as it's harvested from the onsite beehive.

Extracurricular

Boys Hall is perfectly placed for touring England’s wine country: Westwell, Woodchurch and Gusbourne vineyards are all within a 20 minute drive and in recent years have all begun hosting events — from suppers and specialist tastings to DJs and farmer’s markets, it’s worth checking what’s on the agenda during your visit.

Best for...

A foodie weekend getaway.

Boys Hall has B&B doubles from £160; boys-hall.com