The height of luxury in the Peak District: Inside Callow Hall, the swish country hotel that’s ‘more cool Cotswolds than traditional Derbyshire’
- Callow Hall takes guests back to nature without forgoing creature comforts
- Jane Knight stays in a ‘wooden hive’ – a ‘souped-up version of a shepherd’s hut’
- READ MORE: The cove that time forgot – and the gorgeous pub that it harbours
It may be called the Peak District, but the former railway line we are cycling along, just round the corner from this country hotel, is virtually flat.
Pedal one way along the 13-mile Tissington Trail and in minutes you’ll be in the market town of Ashbourne, with its cobbled alleys and antique shops. If you take the hotel bikes the other way towards Buxton, leaving the trail at Thorpe and cycling to Dovedale car park, you can enjoy a stroll through the vale with its famous stepping stones.
Two-and-a-half sweaty hours later, my son and I are back at Callow Hall – and what a swish place it is to collapse in, all eye-catching colours and a swirl of patterns thanks to interior designer Isabella Worsley. While elements of this Victorian mansion remain – the grand staircase, tiled fireplaces and ornate ceilings – they are beautifully offset by rose-pink seats and sea-green walls hung with vintage flower pressings and botanical prints.
The 15 bedrooms in the main house are equally beautiful, with carefully chosen fabrics. Some also have in-room baths. Instead, we’re staying in one of the 11 wooden hives, a souped-up version of a shepherd’s hut, cantilevered over the wooded hillside along with two larger treehouses. The rustic furniture, cladding and a delicious woody scent contribute to the cosy and comfortable feel.
It’s a while until dinner so we’re delighted to find generous complimentary snacks to tide us over. Open a cupboard and you’ll discover a whole kitchenette cleverly incorporated within. Sipping and nibbling on the deck, woodland sounds all around, we spot both a rabbit and a strutting pheasant in quick succession.
Jane Knight checks into one of the cosy wooden hives at Callow Hall in Derbyshire’s Peak District
Grand grounds: The hotel is a Victorian country house set in 35 acres of gardens and woodland
This is the essence of Wildhive, the new brand behind this hotel: getting back to nature but doing so without forgoing your creature comforts. To that end, the coach house down the hill holds not only a map room containing everything you need for an outing but also a boutique spa to ease any tired muscles on your return.
The company, launched by entrepreneurs Ed Burrows and Charles Randall, aims to open other hotels in underdeveloped tourist areas, with the next property planned in Northumberland.
Certainly they’ve brought style to the county – when you see the glass box restaurant with its living roof jutting out from the side of the grand exterior, it looks more cool Cotswolds than traditional Derbyshire. With a curved bar for cocktails and large olive trees within (sadly fake), it makes a buzzy backdrop for a meal.
Interior designer Isabella Worsley is behind Callow Hall’s colourful rooms
Jane notes that the 15 bedrooms in the main house (pictured) are dressed with carefully chosen fabrics
The restaurant’s curved bar and olive trees ‘make a buzzy backdrop for a meal’, says Jane
The private dining room has ‘magnificent’ Melissa White mural wallpaper that showcases the Peak District
At dinner, I’m surprised to find so much seafood on the menu as they advertise using local produce – though there are other options, including Derbyshire lamb koftas and Bakewell tart. That said, the seafood misto proves tasty, with generous quantities of seared tuna, preceded by local bread and chased by Derbyshire ice cream.
Breakfast isn’t included in the room rate but, if you can bag a table at the front of the restaurant, you do get complimentary panoramas over Derbyshire’s rolling fields. We tucked into local free-range eggs and avocado on sourdough from a nearby artisan bakery – though we think perhaps the side of bacon should have included more than one rasher.
For more views, pop into the private dining room next to reception before checking out to marvel at the magnificent Melissa White mural wallpaper. Showcasing the Peak District, its detail portrays Callow Hall, Derbyshire’s rolling hills and the stepping stones.
Wildhive Callow Hall, Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Double rooms from £199 a night (wildhive.uk).
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