Please note: we were unable to resist inserting a few vicar-related words or phrases into our post.....how many can you spot?
I’m not sure how many vicarages have a hallway full of polo mallets and a glass panel in the floor giving a view of a well-stocked wine cellar, but then The Vicarage Hotel in Cheshire is not like most vicarages. Or most hotels for that matter.
We often need a bed for the night when travelling towards Manchester, and now have a firm favourite in The Vicarage Hotel in the parish of Holmes Chapel (just a couple of miles from Junction 18, and not too far from Jodrell Bank observatory). The conversion of a Grade II former farmhouse and vicarage into a quirky pub-with-rooms has been a roaring success for the owners – so much so that their fledgling hotel chain (Flat Cap Hotels) has already started to spread the gospel and sprinkle its magic over another conversion in nearby Knutsford.
The seasonal locally-sourced food is divine (and not too expensive) the drinks are plentiful (and not too expensive); but it’s the décor and rooms (also not too expensive) that will linger in the memory – we think we can safely say that the interior design team do not worship at the altar of minimalism!
Our bed for the night: all items courtesy of the Vicarage Hotel except the throw which is (of course) available from Snowbunting.
The Vicarage offers ‘Signature’ or ‘Comfy’ rooms. We were hoping that a clerical error may have led us to being allocated a sumptuous ‘Signature’ room, but our ‘Comfy’ room (£103 for a Friday night including breakfast – ‘Signature’ rooms are about £30 more) was absolutely fine. We had free wi-fi, a power shower, an interesting choice of teas and coffees, and posh Duck Island toiletries…..but we also had quirky wallpaper, bonkers cushions, a stool straight from the set of the Borrowers, and a selection of old second-hand books to choose from.
The quirky touches aren’t just confined to the rooms – the public areas and the pub/restaurant are similarly crammed with weird and wonderful knick-knacks (the owners of Cheshire reclamation yards must have been rubbing their hands with glee when asked to help curate the collection). The aforementioned polo mallets and helmets adorn the entrance; the beams are covered in a mass of heraldic coats of arms worthy of the opening credits of Game of Thrones; there are gilt framed mirrors everywhere, lots of painted wood panelling, and the chairs that gather around the massive log fire are a hotch-potch of deep colours that shouldn’t go together….but do.
The overall effect is posh country house, but with a contemporary laid-back twist. The service is friendly, with chatty staff ready to minister to our every need; the food is better dressed than the casually-clad clientele (no need for suiting and booting here); and our only complaint were the decidedly dodgy acoustic covers being played over the sound system (‘You’re Beautiful’ is bad enough in the original without the cardinal sin of choosing to play an Ed Sheeran-style version).
Breakfast was served in the conservatory, which in contrast to the cosy restaurant is filled with light and decorated in a palette of creams – although the eclectic décor is ever-present. A huge collection of clocks adorns one wall, and houseplants fill every available space (even the ceiling). The food once again was delicious – a buffet selection of cold offerings followed by a freshly cooked full English (confession: we ate so much we didn’t need another meal until the evening).
Holmes Chapel is currently most famous for being the birthplace of One Direction’s Harry Styles – but we have faith that the Vicarage might soon change all that.