Miter Hampton Court Hotel Review: A Riverside Retreat Fit for a King
Country house chic meets regal splendor at Miter, a newly refurbished boutique hotel on the banks of the River Thames, directly opposite Hampton Court Palace.
Commissioned by Charles II in 1665 to house the overflow of courtiers, the historic hotel has undergone various overhauls over the years. Its most recent overhaul came during the pandemic after it was purchased by Hector Ross and Ronnie Kimbugwe from hotel company The Signet Collection, which was formed in early 2020.
The new owners have stripped everything âfrom the toilet bowls to the curtains,â FranÃ§ois Plougonven, customer relations manager, told me. âThe only things they couldn’t move were the walls and stairs as this is a Grade II listed building.â
Over the summer of last year, the hotel began to gradually reopen as renovations wrapped up and has been fully operational since September 2020 – minus periods of lockdown, of course.
The hotel’s friendly and informal atmosphere is evident as soon as you exit the bustling main road and enter its relaxed reception hall. The staff welcome customers and each other like old friends; according to Plougonven, La Miter recruits people “not necessarily on the basis of experience” but on “their passion and dynamism”.
Guests are greeted with complimentary glasses of wine on arrival which they can enjoy while awaiting check-in. Free homemade chocolate chip cookies await visitors in their rooms – a nice touch, especially if someone has had to travel far.
In addition to the reception lounge, guests can relax outside on one of the two sunny terraces or in a cozy library with an ‘honesty bar’ where visitors can record photos of The Miteris a deliciously lethal homemade ginger liqueur.
It is difficult to describe a specific color scheme across the hotel as each room has a different feel; Plougonven tells me that 244 shades of paint were used during the renovation. But instead of feeling shocking, it all comes together (somehow).
Ross and Kimbugwe have prioritized local businesses when considering decorating; the flowers come from a store on adjacent Bridge Road and the soy candles are hand-poured at Hampton Court itself. It’s a good idea and helps explain the community-centric feel of the hotel.
Each room has been individually designed, from its pet-friendly, hunting, boating and sports-themed ‘Heritage Rooms’ to its one-of-a-kind Henry VIII Bridal Suite, which features a four poster bed and a copper rolling bathtub and offers views of the River Thames and Hampton Court.
I stayed in the spacious “Painters Studio”, one of the four culturally-themed rooms at The Miter, reflecting the hotel’s literary heritage. With a view of the river, a comfy king-size bed, and a quart of free ginger liqueur to savor, it was hard not to feel comfortable in the luxury.
The bathroom was simple but nice and stocked with products from the Bramley candle line including an ambros grapefruit, cilantro and spearmint hand wash. All bath and body products are decanted in bespoke eco-friendly bottles bearing an illustrated lion – the iconic image of the Signet collection, designed by a former staff member.
The Miter contains two restaurants who are both housed in the riverside rotunda and run by Kimbugwe, who worked with Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s.
On the smarter side is 1665, named after the date when the original Miter Hotel was built as an inn to accommodate travelers and palace guests. My guest and I had dinner here the night we arrived where we were treated to a window seat overlooking the paddleboarders and swimmers (remarkably brave) making the most of the Thames at sunset.
After a detailed analysis of what was a very full menu, we chose to start with grilled Padron peppers (served with bite-sized chunks of halloumi) and crispy ‘popcorn’ cauliflower, which our waitress assured us it was. was a 1665 specialty. Both portions were way larger than we expected from ‘bites’, the fried cauliflower globes made an especially delicious start to our meal.
Then our starters; a shrimp and avocado cocktail for me, and a squid, arugula and chili salad for my partner. The sweet and sour flavor of my Marie Rose Sriracha sauce complemented the juicy Atlantic shrimp perfectly and like our ‘appetizers’ both servings were way larger than expected (fit for a king, you might say. ).
For the main course, my partner had a Hampshire Rib eye steak which was sizzling to perfection and served with savory celery fries and a gloriously creamy bearnaise sauce. I went for the lobster and crab tortellini which were tasty, but I admit I suffered from a little food craving.
We barely had room for dessert but were too curious not to try what was described as a pineapple and coconut “ravioli”. Fortunately, this unusual dish did not amount to my second serving of pasta of the evening, but rather was a very thin layer of pineapple wrapped around a refreshing scoop of coconut sorbet.
The surprisingly tasty concoction was a perfect cleanser for the palate – and unlike any other dish, the portion sizes were aimed at a normal human appetite, rather than that of Henry VIII.
For a more casual dining experience than in 1665, there’s the Coppernose restaurant, the name deriving from a nickname given to Henry VIII after his funds ran out and he was forced to issue good change. market covered with copper towards the end of his reign.
This is where we had breakfast the next morning (which is included in all room rates and served until 10am). Coppernose’s breakfast menu ranges from traditional fries to more millennial-friendly options like avocado on toast or a bowl of mango smoothie.
I opted for full English (when inâ¦ England?) Which came with perfectly runny but slightly chilled poached eggs, moderately crispy bacon, roasted mushrooms, baked beans (which have been described as “to slow cooking âbut tasted like ordinary Heinz to me) and totally delicious apple and boar sausage.
My partner’s poached eggs, avocado and sourdough hummus were presented as a work of art, with edible flower petals and a tasteful touch of crispy shallots and Sriracha smear. Both meals were accompanied by fresh orange juice, tea and coffee, which we enjoyed while taking in the view of the river.
What has to be done
As The Miter is less than a two-minute walk from Hampton Court, it would be remiss not to visit the palace during your stay. Some of the upscale rooms include entry as part of their packages; it is worth checking with reception if any special ticket offers are available.
Hampton Court Palace is a perfect family day out – the elements of the experience are slightly Disney (with enthusiastic costumed reenactments), but there’s more than enough history to mesmerize older visitors, too. I especially enjoyed visiting the enormous kitchens of Henry VIII (too bad for the poor women who spent all day bending over steaming cauldrons) and strolling through the breathtaking gardens, including the expansive vegetable garden. Be sure to see the Great Vine, a 250 year old black vine that is the tallest in the world.
Le Miter also offers its own activities, including a monthly dinner club run by Kimbugwe and Claire Fyfe, the hotel manager. Each club dinner is thematic; last month’s one focused on sparkling wine and included a talk and presentation from the local Hambledon vineyard.
For exercise enthusiasts, the hotel’s regular ‘Fit for a King’ series brings local trainers to the Miter Terrace for exclusive workout classes (there are only 20 tickets available at a time) . For Â£ 50, guests and locals alike can enjoy a morning strength and stretch session followed by a delicious outdoor brunch on the River Bridge.
And in August, the hotel adds another string to its bow, with the launch of a brand new âPamper Spa Suiteâ. Hotel guests can book a range of treatments, including full body massage, express head, neck and shoulder massage, and full body hot stone massage, with a team of expert therapists.
How to book
Timed tickets to Hampton Court Palace cost Â£ 25.30 for an adult and can be purchased at hrp.org.uk.