The Mitre, Hampton Court, UK

The Mitre, Hampton Court, UK

Trussed up in tutti-frutti-toned tassels and kooky furnishings, this Thameside retreat melts characterful architecture and maximalist interiors with a knowing nod to its royal connections

Hampton Court Palace, an oil painting, Field of the Cloth of
Gold, depicts an extravagant summit meeting between Henry VIII and
the French king, Francis I. Between the tufted tents and turreted
towers of the temporary castles erected for the event are depicted
a procession of Tudor courtiers prancing towards a castle. Some
dazzle in red-striped coats, bright white hoses beneath. Others are
draped in mustard-yellow doublets, with slits fashioned to flash
lime green beneath. Henry VIII straddles a grey horse, resplendent
and larger than life in a cloak of gold. Trussed up in their Sunday
best to meet the French court, they’re a picture of pleasing

On entering our bedroom at The Mitre, across the road from the
palace, it’s easy to think inspiration for the hotel’s interiors
might have been plucked from that famous painting. Built in the
17th century to house an overflow of guests from the palace (when
Charles II ran out of beds), this old inn by the bridge has been
patched up and padded out over the years, making the property a
multi-layered extravagance of corridors, staircases, nooks and
crannies, not unlike the complexities of the Tudor wardrobe.
Outside, Georgian elegance is layered up with a Nineties-built
rotunda paunch, modern conservatory and a higgledy-piggledy
collation of other architectural styles spanning centuries. Inside,
an expressive renovation by The Signet Collection has added
tutti-frutti-toned interiors that seem to have been taken from the
painting itself, albeit twisted around furnishings and splashed
across walls. It’s bold, bright and brilliant – like living inside
the wardrobe of Henry VIII himself.

The Mitre, Hampton Court
The Mitre Hamtpon Court, Window

The Mitre’s drawing room, left, and window views from a


The hotel has 36, many named after kings, queens and nobility.
Ours – a Royal, number 202, Edward – was as fetchingly dressed as
courtiers of old, with joyfully patterned, hand-painted wallpaper,
overstuffed armchairs, reinvigorated antiques and enough fringing,
gingham and scalloping to fill a haberdashery – think the flavours
of Matilda Goad, with a smattering of Tudor. Sash windows offer
Thames views (plus the tent tops of the terrace downstairs). Colour
is generously used: elsewhere in the hotel, you’ll find rooms with
lime-green walls, burnt-orange panelling, fuchsia sofas and
cherry-red headboards.

The building is old, but its awkward spaces and strange angles
are put to good use: think quirky, characterful corners filled with
secondhand books and tasselled lampshades. We were particularly
taken by the generous, freestanding bathtub in our room, sitting
beneath a vintage map of London, with a rubber duck ready to go on
the red-striped side table beside it.

What’s for dinner?

We dined in 1665 Brasserie, the Thames-facing restaurant and
terrace that has become the evening dining spot of choice for
Kingston’s glitziest. Sat at a table beside Balthazar-sized bottles
of Whispering Angel piled precariously high, we tucked into
chargrilled steak, wood fire-cooked prawns and chilli-spiked

Note that on Saturdays, the music here is loud and the
atmosphere party-like – not one for your hard-of-hearing


Served in the bar (head down early to nab a seat in the curved
dining area overlooking the Thames). There’s a generous buffet,
plus a menu of quick classics.

Is there a bar?

Yes, two. The seasonal Whispering Angel terrace, and the
pastel-painted Coppernose upstairs (a nickname given to Henry
VIII). Try the virgin cocktails – they’re excellent.

The Mitre, Hampton Court Suite
The Mitre, Hampton Court Restaurant

A double room, left, and the dining area.


There are English-made Bramley toiletries in all bathrooms, and
all bedrooms have a bottle of The King’s Ginger liqueur to enjoy at
your leisure. You’ll also find a coffee machine, cosy robes and
quirky minibar offerings. We liked the clever touch of a Tatler on
the desk (for swatting up on your royal reading, of course).

We loved the kooky library tucked behind reception, with its
retro jukebox, eclectic reading material and old etching of
Cardinal Wolsey on the wall.

What are eco-credentials like?

The brains behind the design, Nicola Harding, put time and
effort into upcycling and refurbishing old furniture for the rooms
– an area often overlooked in the race to pick up sustainability

What about accessibility?

There is one accessible room, and lifts for reaching the
restaurants. However, this is an old building, full of twists and
turns, so it’s unlikely to be uninterrupted smooth sailing if you
struggle with mobility.

What’s the crowd?

Londoners seeking leafier surroundings for the weekend, plus
out-of-towners wanting a base only a 30-minute train ride away from
the intensity of the capital’s centre. On our visit, there were a
lot of wedding guests, too.

Within a short walk I can find…

The slow roll of the Thames, verdant canal walks and, of course,
the majestic (and massive) red-brick Hampton Court Palace, directly
opposite. Plus, the deer-patrolled pastures of Bushy Park (perfect
for pooch-watching) a short walk away. The train station is four
minutes’ on foot, too.

Things I should know…

Our room was hot throughout the night, despite all the windows
being open. Management are clearly aware – the room was furnished
with a Dyson fan – but on a steamy summer’s night, it was a touch

The Lowdown

Doubles cost from £164 a night.

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