Nutfield Priory

Nutfield Priory – a sustainable passion for wine and gardens

Nutfield Priory – a sustainable passion for wine and gardens

Jenny Booth’s Serene Escape: Unwind, Indulge, and Immerse in Nature at Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa

The road out of London towards Nutfield Priory is not long but it is beautiful. Verdant country lanes exploding with blossom wind through the Surrey Hills, leading within little more than 30 minutes to an elegantly weathered country house hotel perched on a ridge overlooking the vale west of London.

From the warm welcome at the impressive Victorian Gothic entrance hall to the deeply comfortable rooms, this is a place with the right ingredients to relax and recharge. After winding down further with a visit to the state-of-the-art spa, guests generally make their way to the terrace, which with its greenery and views is an ideal spot to relax while anticipating some of the sumptuous cooking. And if these pleasures were not enough, Hand Picked Hotels’ dynamic founder Julia Hands is pioneering a new way of increasing customer enjoyment: with themed evenings, which pair an outstanding meal with fine wines and stimulating talks on themes connected to sustainability.

For the first event, Ms Hands had invited two South African experts in the fields of wine production and gardening to introduce us to the wine-growing terroir of the Western Cape and to its hugely varied and abundant vegetation. First Carolyn Martin from Creation Wines guided us through four wines from the vineyards she and her husband planted at Hermanus near Cape Town, which were paired with a South African menu of fresh and sumptuous food. The Sauvignon Blanc we sampled on the terrace with tiny delicious canapes flavoured with sorrel was as green and fresh and enticing as the landscape. Paired with a delicious hake dish in buttered sauce, the Chardonnay was unlike the heavily oaked and cloying wines that have given that grape a debatable reputation: it was perfectly balanced, with verdant richness and a whisper of salt tang from the nearby ocean. The ruby-coloured Pinot Noir that accompanied the perfect rack of lamb was outstanding, packed with cherry, blueberry, violet leaf and sandalwood flavours, while the Grenache Syrah that was twinned with a portion of spicy Bobotje was deep, leathery and delicious. No wonder Mrs Martin and her winemaker husband Jean-Claude won the accolade of being listed number 10 in the world’s best vineyards of 2021.

The meal concluded with a Sweet Malva pudding based on sweet potato and coconut that left me begging for the recipe. Then Corne Pretorius, fourth generation in a family of celebrated plantsmen and women (his grandmother’s garden has been saved for the nation in South Africa), entranced the guests with his descriptions of the indigenous species of the region: from the stunning colours and shapes of the Strelitzias and Proteas that grow in abundance around Table Mountain, the stately Stinkwoods and Yellowwoods of the forest round Knysna and the rare Cycads of the savannah grasslands, to the rich treasury of Lithops, Aloes and succulents that survive in the harsh, dry conditions of the Karoo. His deep, gravelly voice and fund of plant wisdom held all the guests spellbound.

It is well worth keeping an eye out for another of these Sustainable Hospitality events, which combine relaxation for the body and spirit with stimulation for the mind.

Jenny Booth was a guest of Nutfield Priory Hotel and Spa, one of five Handpicked Hotels around London, which all share the same relaxed country house ethos.

Nutfield Priory | Hotel & Spa Redhill, Surrey, Hand Picked Hotels


Nursery | Riebeek Valley Nursery (