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Most affluent of the green and pleasant Home Counties, Surrey is often spoken of as little more than a London commuter belt. But actually 70% of Surrey is classed as green belt land, meaning these rolling acres can't be built on. So this is prime country for outdoorsy pursuits, punctuated by picture-postcard-perfect pubs. Many of the best places to stay in Surrey reflect this - there are plenty of country house hotels and coaching inns to choose from.
It is true that Richmond, Surrey is only 17 minutes from London Waterloo by train, and on the London Tube network. And that Surrey's main town, Guildford, is only 33 minutes from Waterloo by train. Making Surrey a convenient place for visitors to London to commute from, as well as workers. But as well as visiting London how about seeing some of the best of Surrey?
Surrey began its sprucing up around 1900, and many market towns and villages have High Streets and Town Halls dating from the 20th Century.
As well as architectural heritage, Surrey has a number of notable museums. Quite a few are centred around Georgian market town, Farnham, also famous for its shopping. The Farnham museum has a crafts collection second only to the V&A.
Here's a selection of possibilities for your Surrey 'to-do' list:
- Hampton Court Palace, East Molsey, Henry VIII's grand, red brick palace with its famous maze;
- Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking - both Britain's largest, and an award winning winery;
- The Lightbox, Woking, an arts and exhibition centre;
- Epsom Racecourse - especially if you're here for the Derby!
- Surrey also has a number of impressive stately homes, including Polesden Lacey - for the views, Loseley Park - unchanged since 1562, and Palladian charmer, Clandon Park - also home to the Surrey Infantry Museum.
As for the green bits the Surrey Hills are considered an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, meaning they're national park standard, but without the tourists. Box Hill is probably one of the best known 'green bits', very famous amongst cyclists, and the closest decent hill to London.
The best places to stay in Surrey are as varied as the county itself, from city pads on the outskirts of London, to country house splendour amid rolling countryside.
For access to London
- The Bingham is a good option. Situated in Richmond upon Thames, you can get a tube directly into the centre of town. The hotel enjoys stunning river views and great food.
- Almost hidden under creeping ivy, lavish 19th Century mansion Pennyhill Park has become Pennyhill Park Hotel and The Spa, a luxurious country house hotel with Michelin starred restaurant and an award winning spa. One of the best places to stay in Surrey for those who want some serious pampering!
Country House Hotels
- Woodlands Park Hotel is a converted Victorian mansion, known for being one of the first private houses in the UK to have electric lights! The lean towards the modern has continued, and while the exterior remains relatively unchanged, inside you'll find much smoother lines and more muted, modern colours.
- Nutflield Priory enjoys an elevated position and is certainly one of the best places to stay in Surrey if you want to enjoy the view. Rooms are traditional yet chic and food is 2 AA Rosette standard.
Best Hotels in Surrey
The Crown Inn, Surrey 7 rooms from $135Chiddingfold, Surrey
Sat on the edge of Chiddingfold Green this ivy clad property is a picture of English village life. Inside the 14th century building it is all exposed beams, flagstone tiles, roaring fires and four poster beds, yet with DAB radios, in room DVDs and bathroom mod-cons. The restaurant is AA rated.Great walks - The South Downs, Blackdown, Leith Hill and Winkworth Arboretum provide ample scenic walking routes.Sights nearby - Jane Austen's House Museum and the immortalised town of Loxwood are both a short drive away.Full of characterBirdwatching - Good birding near the hotel.Recommended by - Good Hotel Guide
Bel and the Dragon, Surrey 18 rooms from $141Surrey
Good base in attractive countryside for a weekend getaway in Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Also the area where Jane Austen got inspiration for her novels. Couples will find it cosy and contemporary; larger groups and families will appreciate the spacious rooms and communal areas.Sights nearby - For those interested in art visit Churt's Sculpture ParkGreat walks - Walk the Pilgrim's Way along the Surrey HillsDesigner - Uniquely designed interiors.
Langshott Manor 22 rooms from $170Surrey
You won't believe that this 16th century, quintessentially English manor house is but a ten minute drive from Gatwick airport. Complete with beamed ceilings, four poster beds, plush sofas and a crackling fire in winter months.There is also an award winning restaurant. Ideal for weddings and parties.Fishing - In the River MoleLocal markets - Good for local colour.Full of characterSecluded setting - For escaping.Recommended by - Small Luxury Hotels
The Bingham 15 rooms from $175Richmond, Surrey
A spectacular boutique hotel on the banks of the Thames and surrounded by Richmond Park. Beautiful Farrow & Ball painted rooms have elegant four poster beds, sumptuous furnishings, and all the mod cons. Stunning river views from the garden, terraces, and Michelin star British restaurant.Boutique - Floor to ceiling French windows, four poster beds, immaculately painted Farrow and Ball walls, chandeliers.Views - Wonderful views over the river offer peace and a sense of restfulness.Foodies - Michelin star restaurant, Modern British.City StyleRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
Brooklands Hotel & Spa 120 rooms from 149Weybridge, Surrey
Sleek racing-themed Weybridge hotel overlooking the historic car circuit, perfect for a weekend getaway. Art Deco themed throughout, spacious rooms and suites come decked in dark wood and feature walk-in rain showers as standard. There's fine dining in 1907 and Mercedes Benz World on the doorstep.Spa
Nutfield Priory 60 rooms from $182Redhill, Surrey
Country house hotel with outstanding views over the Surrey and Sussex countryside. Rooms have been stylishly designed many with individual features including original artworks and feature beds. Ideal destination for both business and leisure travellers. Popular wedding venue.Swimming Pool - Indoor PoolFour poster beds - For romantics.SpaViews - Great views from hotel
Pennyhill Park Hotel and The Spa 123 rooms from $410Bagshot, Surrey
Creeper clad 19th century country house hotel. Michelin-starred restaurant and award winning spa just half an hour from Heathrow. Country style with lavish facilities.SpaSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor5* Luxury - Very high service standards.Recommended by - Tablet, Johansens, Small Luxury Hotels