Live like a king or queen at the 17th-century Speech House Hotel. Sitting in the centre of the Royal Forest of Dean, one of the few surviving ancient woodlands in England, this extravagant manor house was built as a hunting lodge for Charles II. Make yourself at home in an elegant modern room, decorated in soft greys or salmon with warm wooden furnishings. For a grand occasion, book into a suite with an elaborate wooden carved four-poster bed, which measures seven feet and is so high you are given a small step to help you climb into it. Adding to the regal theme, rooms also feature an original fireplace with ornate tiles surrounded by a polished wood mantle and a walnut dressing table with an opulent mirror. Each of the old-style rooms in the hotel is designed with a similar majestic air, created with luxurious fabrics, striking wallpapers and period-style furnishings. If you fancy living closer to the forest, the hotel’s cosy cottage has rooms overlooking the pastures and woodland behind the main house.
Dinner fit for a royal is served in the Verderers restaurant. Experience fine dining in the former Verderers Court where rulings, concerning the forest, were passed more than 300 years ago. The court is the most significant room in the lodge with many of its old features, such as the raised gallery and fireplace, remaining in their original place. Take a seat beneath the beamed ceiling to dine on elegantly displayed plates such as Welsh beef or dry-aged pork followed by an indulgent home-made dessert like delicate elderflower panna cotta or sticky chocolate brownie. For a less formal meal or a spot of afternoon tea, the Orangery offers a more casual environment. This bright, glass-walled room is filled with comfortable wicker armchairs and offers views out across the hotel’s manicured gardens. Admire the landscape while nibbling on finger sandwiches filled with local cheese and pear chutney, followed by seasonal fancies and traditional sultana scones with jam and clotted cream.
For some fresh air, explore the surrounding forest or wander around the house’s vast grounds. Among the many trees, in front of the hotel, you might find two young oaks that were planted over half a century ago by the Duke of Edinburgh – the spade he used is showcased within the hotel.