Kesgrave Hall Ipswich, Suffolk
Reviewed by Michelle Llabani
Atmosphere and setting
Arriving at around half past 3 we were welcomed by a buzzing, warm atmosphere, with both the lounge area, with its über comfy sofas, and the dining area full of a mix of locals and hotel guests.
The reception area is simply a beautiful desk and chair in the main Hall area, a pleasant change from the over sterile counter and computers we are all used to in more run of the mill hotels. The reception staff were polite, welcoming and efficient. One of the receptionists showed us to our room in one of the courtyard buildings and gave us a brief tour of the ‘suite’ before leaving us to settle in.
As always when travelling with young children we are always a little nervous of the kind of room we end up in. Many hotels seem to think that a family room consists of a normal double with a hugely uncomfortable sofa bed for the children, but not at Kesgrave Hall. We had room 16, which on entering was quite obviously more than just a room! Room 16 is actually a suite, with 2 separate rooms joined by a hallway and bathroom. The master bedroom was spacious, with a huge bed (super kingsize) and modern, simple furniture, whilst the ‘children’s room’ was an even bigger room with 2 single beds and a sofa. Both rooms had TV’s. There was the expected tea and coffee making facilities along with a mini bar with soft drinks at no extra charge.
The bathroom was a delight and treat, especially as I only have a shower room at home. I was truly appreciative of the larger than average bath and quality Ren toiletries. My son enjoyed the bath so much he had 2!
It is testament to the local popularity of the restaurant that when we arrived at our pre booked time to eat of 6:30pm that the restaurant was already at full capacity. The restaurant was spacious and ensuring you didn’t feel cramped. The open kitchen and pass added entertainment, both my children enjoyed watching the chefs at work. The whole atmosphere was relaxing and child friendly with many families dotted around the restaurant.
They have a slightly unusual method of taking orders at Kesgrave Hall, you are given a pad of paper and pencil and asked to write your own order down. A novel twist which didn’t bother us in the slightest and actually proved useful during the course of the meal for me to make notes about the food! The waiting staff were attentive and intuitive, bringing over colouring sheets and crayons to keep the children amused.
The menu was varied and extensive, with a choice of about a dozen main courses, along with a number of specials. There was a definite emphasis on fish dishes which is to be expected this close to the sea. We all quickly found something on the menu we wanted to eat. I had the prosciutto, fig and feta starter, whilst my husband had chargrilled duck. The children both had pitta with cucumber and carrot crudités. As soon as the food arrived we knew we were in for a treat. Our food was beautifully presented and tasted exquisite. The children’s dishes were more simple- perfect and non-intimidating for little taste buds.
The main course and desserts were of the same high standard. Excellent food delivered in a stylish yet unpretentious way. The highlight for my 3 year old was definitely the Banana Split with the chocolate covered plate. How much chocolate got eaten I don’t know, but much of it ended up around his face!
Value for money
At £85 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast (in January) this is still an expensive option for a last minute weekend away, however for that special occasion it is money well spent for the quality of food, accommodation and service you receive.
All in all we had an excellent stay, Paul Milson and his wife Geraldine have created a good mix of comfort and style which affords Kesgrave Hall the title of ‘Boutique Hotel’ without being over- pretentious and alienating the family market. The staff were incredibly welcoming and helpful.
I would however suggest a routine refurbishment of room 16 may well be of benefit over the next year- as there were a few cracks and scuffs showing. I would also raise a note of caution for families choosing to stay in room 16 over the warmer months, as it backs directly onto the hotel terrace, which may lead to quite a lot of noise until late in the evening. However I should point out that this is just an assumption. We had a very quiet evening as the weather was cold and rainy, so the terraced area was not in use.
For more information or to book your stay visit www.milsomhotels.com/kesgravehall.