Running an hotel that is as expansive in size as it is in history is not without its challenges.
The De Vere Selsdon Estate, located in Croydon’s most glorious countryside, dates back to the 9th century.
Since then it’s grown like Topsy with wonderful Tudor chimneys, magnificent painted ceilings, and stone mullioned windows with sweeping views across 200-acres of parkland filled with perfectly manicured lawns, secret gardens, a 13th century arch that was formerly part of the Blackfriars monastery of London, and a renowned 18-hole championship golf course.
Such is the scale of the hotel, its spa, and its facilities that it fairly exudes not merely charm but an effervescence of activity.
When we arrived to sample its delights, golfers were mingling on the front lawn exchanging the banter that rather goes with the game.
Partners less keen on the sport were enjoying afternoon teas in the Orangery, absorbed in afternoon chatter and their own game of Rummikub.
A giant deckchair was a focal point of the lawns and a succession of young children made it their aim to climb aboard watching the entertainment from their elevated canvas throne.
Meanwhile, three birthday parties appeared to be in full swing - emphasized in the 1042 restaurant and bar that evening with the arrival of a succession of cakes, dimmed lights and the singing of the traditional anniversary anthem.
With such an eclectic mix of age, activity, and history the biggest challenge of all for the estate has been achieving the single biggest requirement of all guests - immaculate decoration and comfort.
For that reason, our visit followed the completion of its multi-million pound refurbishment.
Any such undertaking needs to preserve in aspic those historic elements that give the property its unique ambiance while giving a wholly contemporary chic to the guestrooms and dining areas.
The resulting overhaul achieves all this rather well.
The decor and colour-scheme in the refurbished areas is understated. Hues of greys, blues and beiges keep the palette soft and inoffensive to the eye and inject a tranquility into a scene of such happy busyness.
It is entirely modern, beautifully uncluttered, mercifully spotlessly clean.
It’s unpretentious too.
An ethos reflected in the restaurant menu.
Ale battered fish and chips, beef bourguignon, pressed pork with fennel and mustard seeds, and piri piri marinated chicken supreme, were some of the highlights - along with two great vegetarian options.
We were welcomed to the room with a bowl of fruit - made a little more special with the addition of watermelon.
The weekend was blessed with brilliant sunshine. It meant the estate could be enjoyed in all its glory.
Our enduring memory will be simply of the fun that was being shared by so many - so close to London and yet, from the rural vista, so far away too.
We were invited to review the hotel as their guests. However, our review was not linked to any advertisement spend and was independent.