Escape to…The Talbot Inn

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    Zara Gaspar checks in to The Talbot Inn in Ripley, Surrey to discover the historic setting for Lord Nelson’s love affair

    First impressions

    The Talbot Inn was a favourite haunt of Lord Nelson and supposedly where his love affair with Emma Hamilton blossomed. The pair met in 1798 when Lord Nelson was in France on a mission to save the Neapolitan royal family from an invasion. He fell in love with Lady Hamilton, the young wife of the elderly British ambassador to Naples, and returned to England with her as his mistress.

    Discover over 500 years of history in this delightful coaching inn. Step into the Talbot Inn and to the left of the main reception area you’ll find Emma’s room, where the lovers would spend their nights sat together by the fire. There’s even a placard marking Lord Nelson’s favourite seat.

    The Talbot dates back to 1453 when it was used as a coaching inn for people commuting from London to Portsmouth. It still serves as a stop-off for weary travellers and from the moment you arrive at the ivy-covered redbrick countryside retreat, its old world charm blended with contemporary decor welcomes you in.

    The rooms

    There are 43 bedrooms in total. Nine of these are located in the main coaching inn and have all maintained some of their original 15th century features. The rooms are clean, comfortable and spacious. They’re well-equipped with wifi, tea and coffee making facilities and plasma TV screens, but best of all they’re also full of traditional character. The rooms in the Ripley Wing are stylish and contemporary.

    The original barns, with features such as open beams and hayloft ladders, are still used for functions including meetings, conferences and weddings.

    The food and drink

    Full English breakfast, lunches, afternoon tea and dinners are served in a beautiful dining space decorated with velour furnishings and book cases to give it a country house feel. Dine under the stunning copper ceiling or in the glass conservatory overlooking the gardens. The restaurant serves up a modern British menu at reasonable prices. It’s gastro pub meets fine-dining in a relaxed environment. I’d particularly recommend the hake with chorizo and butter beans and the peanut parfait dessert.

    After dinner, you can relax in the cosy bar and enjoy a real ale in front of the log fire.

    The area
    The Talbot Inn is situated on Ripley High Street in the picturesque village of Ripley, Surrey. It’s not only 30 minutes from Central London, but also five minutes away from RHS Wisley Gardens and a 15-minute drive from Painshill Park’s stunning 18th century landscaped gardens.

    The verdict

    This historic inn is a charming place to stay with a warm atmosphere and friendly, helpful staff.

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