“ Ickleton road / Duxford / Cambridge / CB2 4RT / Tel: 01223 836444 / Fax: 01223 832271 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. „
Duxford Lodge Hotel is in a pretty village and I found it a pleasant and civilized place to stay for a week while I was on a business trip. The building itself is not so pretty any more as the modern windows and air vents have spoilt some angles; but the whole is perfectly nice. The garden had some lovely birds and some slightly unloved borders.
The best bit
The staff were very polite and helpful, particularly one lady receptionist who took great trouble to find me directions and local information.
The worst bit
My biggest beef with them was that their bathroom was not clean enough, particularly the floor. The bath and lavatory and basin were all cleaned thoroughly, but the floor was made out of some repugnant felty material which trapped hairs and dust. I did ask for it to be cleaned but this made no difference. (A ceramic floor which could be swept then mopped would have made all the difference.) The sheets and bedroom were fine - could have been dusted better but on the whole they seemed swept, polished on the main bits and the linen was professionally crisp.
Food and Decoration
Decoration was a bit old fashioned; but perfectly fine. One or two of the pictures were OTT naff. The furniture was useful (cupboard, suitcase stand, desk, side table, TV) and hopelessly useless (dust-catching bed curtain thing). Food was really yummy at times - particularly meats with a reduced sauce - and rather over fussed at other times - puddings with too many different, tiny, embellishments (with a particularly annoying powdery dusting of something on some very good ice cream. ) Amuse gueule between courses were a mixture of very nice fishy things and rather odd bits of hard meat I would advise you to avoid.
PS watch out for the really dangerous road exit onto a blind corner with no mirror.
Duxford Lodge Hotel is situated just off the M11 between Cambridge and Saffron Walden, and a mere 20 minute drive from Stansted Airport. As well as offering just 15 ensuite bedrooms, it has a wonderful two rosette restaurant called Le Paradis which is attractive to both residents and locals.
I first stayed here some seven years ago, having flown down to Stansted and met up with my sister. In the last month (i.e. Mar 2006) she invited me down again for an overnight stay, dinner and a catch up. We had an enjoyable meal and stay the last time we went there and we even enjoyed a very unusual bottle of wine, and now she has moved to Essex and I have moved to the Midlands, it is a lot easier for us both to get to, so it seemed like a fitting venue for our first 2006 get-together.
The hotel's own website does not have an online booking service, although they have tariffs and special offers featured on their website (address below). I did not hunt too far on the late availability websites but found the offer on Laterooms.com to be £85 for a standard double , Bed and Breakfast, or £95 for an executive on the same meal plan. This is not a huge saving from their published rack rate of £106 and £116 respectively.
Interestingly although I tried to get the hotel to price-match the internet rate over the telephone call (something I am usually successful on) this hotel refused to give that rate unless I booked on line. The logic of this always escapes me, as they could probably have saved a typical 8%-10% on commission. However as I only booked 48 hours in advance, it was unlikely we would have to cancel and so we just took the risk and the booking went via laterooms.com instead
The hotel is situated in lovely landscaped gardens in the village of Duxford. The area is primarily residential and the road leading to the hotel was a little tight for cars to pass. Duxford is famous for the air museum although in all honesty I wouldn't choose it purely for its location; in our case, it was simply to have a get together. The picturesque village of Saffron Walden is not too far away, and an easy 15 minute drive from the hotel. There are a number of pubs close by, including the John Barleycorn, with its thatched roof, and dating back to 1660 (and where we had lunch seven years ago!)
As this is a small country house hotel, check in was simple and straightforward and processed within a matter of minutes. The room we were allocated was one of the Garden Rooms, which are the executive rooms within the property. The car park is spacious for the hotel and restaurant and it is possible to bring the car to the side of the Garden View Rooms, in the interests of carrying luggage a shorter distance rather than there being any real issue with security.
Obviously a stay in February meant we were not able to fully enjoy the garden, although they were still well manicured. I could envisage sitting out with a nice Sauvignon in the Spring and early Summer though, as the gardens themselves are picturesque.
The room itself was spacious, with the Exec rooms having a small seating area. The bathroom was of a reasonable size, with a shower over bath, and a tub big enough for two (not that I tested it). The rooms themselves were comfortable and clean, although marginally too hot, and a little dated in décor. For example the bathroom was carpeted, and had that marble panelling effect that was popular in the 1980's. If you had forgotten your toiletries, there was an ample supply of Gilchrist and Soames. The room also had tea and coffee making facilities, a TV and a hotel issue hairdryer.
My one quibble was actually the bed! It was a wooden four poster, and the mattress was quite soft, and it was difficult to get in and out of bed without feeling the hard bed frame, which did hurt a little if you accidentally banged against it. It was years since I last stayed in the property, when I had a standard room in the main house, and so I cannot recall much about it, other than it was once again comfortable without being overly luxurious.
There is no lift in the hotel, and no ground floor rooms in the main building, although guests who were dependent on wheelchairs would be able to reach the Garden rooms from the car park without going through the lobby, and so there should not be any problems here. However the Garden rooms are lower than the front of the house and there is no way to the lobby without going up a flight of stairs or going all the way around the building to the front door once again.
During the 21 hour stay we did make use of the lounge facilities. The main lounge is quite small and would struggle to cope with several groups of diners at once, although we did not experience any problems as a group of four. The room was quite Georgian in style and decorated in Aircraft memorabilia and artwork influenced by Duxford. It was a cosy place to relax and enjoy nice coffee while chatting and thumbing through magazines depicting the local area. There was also a separate TV lounge, with a fireplace, although no bar.
The restaurant holds two rosettes and as you can expect the food is of a high standard. The menu itself may not be to everyone's taste, with an emphasis on meat and poultry dishes although with some fish dishes too. Needless to say, it is not likely to be a place that will entice vegetarians. As a guide the Table d'hote menu was £27.50 for three courses, but if you chose A la Carte you can expect to pay about £9 for a starter and about £19 for a main.
That said, the food was beautifully presented. The restaurant offers a fine wine list (the last time we stayed it was my birthday, and having drank them dry of our first choice in wine, we were able to sample an Israeli wine, a very yellow and oaky, but nonetheless very different!). This time we played it safe and stuck with a NZ Sauvignon, which was £21 a bottle. House wines ranged from about £14 and if you want to buy local, English wine was available also.
I opted for a tuna fish and chilli fish cake, which was presented wonderfully and very enjoyable. I followed with a Goats Cheese and beef tomato tartlet, served on a bed of mash potato and with vegetables. I was not able to finish this, but it was extremely enjoyable. Everyone else cleared their plate without problem, so it must have been the cheese that did it for me..
We did eat rather late, sitting down at around 830pm, and the two serving staff were extremely attentive but anxious to ensure we didn't wait for pudding for too long. In the event we ordered another bottle of wine (!), by which time it was 1050pm and the desire for something Wicked had worn off, so we retired to the lounge bar for a wonderful calypso coffee and some wonderful chocolates.
See http://www.info.duxfordlodgehotel.co.uk/alacarte.htm for an a la carte menu similar to what was on offer this weekend.
I would recommend that if you want to treat yourself, opt for the Dinner Bed and Breakfast option. The tariff is £146 for two, which seems considerably cheaper than settling the dinner charges separately. Our invoice was £198 altogether, which is expensive for one night's DBB accommodation, although that included coffee in the afternoon, and wine with dinner/drinks afterwards. Ah well, it's not every weekend is it..?
For a Sunday morning, the breakfast window was quite tight, being served between 800am and 930am only. As it happened, I was up at the crack of dawn, and made it to the restaurant for 800am to enjoy a wonderful full English, before retiring to the Bar Lounge once again to read the Sunday Newspapers before heading back up the A1 to home.
Would I go again? Well as a returning customer, albeit with a gap of seven years, then I guess the answer is yes. It is a little on the expensive side, (especially for someone like me who works in the hotel industry), but it is still a nice place to have a short weekend break and enjoy an indulgent meal occasionally.
ICKLETON ROAD, DUXFORD, CAMBRIDGE, CB2 4RT
Tel: 01223 836444 Fax: 01223 832271
Duxford Lodge Hotel, built in the early part of the 1900s as a private house still retains some of its grandeur. All fifteen bedrooms are individually decorated to a high standard. Surrounded by beautifully kept and secluded gardens, the sweeping drive takes you past the sun terrace to the four garden rooms, two of which have four-poster beds, standing where the stables of yesteryear were built.