If you’re looking for a safe bet when staying in Newmarket, the home of horseracing, look no further than the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa
Words: Harry Jones
Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa
Fans of horseracing may already be aware of this semi-legendary hotel, perfectly positioned amongst some of Britain’s most revered and successful stables.
The hotel has featured in no less than two Jilly Cooper novels (her horsey heroes and heroines need little introduction), and is a well-known meeting place for local stablehands, stud owners and jockeys.
Originally a Georgian hunting lodge, the Bedford Hotel started welcoming paying guests in the 1940s, tapping into the tourist boom of the post-war period.
Importantly, the hotel – stabled by the expert hand of chief executive Noel Byrne – has kept many of the period features in place, while adding touches of modernity. We stayed in a comfortable and recently renovated double room with a generous bed, soft carpets underfoot and a large bathroom.
We made use of the onsite health facilities, including an indoor heated pool, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi. While the health club isn’t especially set up for an afternoon of lounging (with minimal space to lounge), those looking for maximum R&R should instead book a slot at the more luxurious Spa at Bedford Lodge next door.
Pre-dinner, we had a drink in Roxana, a cosy and welcoming bar with attentive staff serving everything from signature cocktails to perfectly poured pints of Guinness. A real log fire, dimmed lighting and soft background music made for an enjoyable hour as we whetted our appetites for the meal ahead.
Guests can eat from a well-stocked bar menu (burgers, pasta, sandwiches), or head into Squires restaurant next door. Squires is named after George Alexander Baird (‘The Squire’), who lived at Bedford Lodge and was a notorious character in the 19th-century racing world.
The restaurant, led by Executive Chef Lee Cooper, holds two AA rosettes and has a pan-Asian menu. We enjoyed Skrei Cod with lobster cream, and Sutton Hoo chicken with asparagus. For dessert, a moist chocolate brownie with ice cream was just the ticket.
For breakfast, guests can graze on continental-style pastries and cereals, before choosing from an exhaustive cooked menu of classics (full English, eggs Benedict and the rest) and some fresher twists such as the ‘breakfast burrito’.
The town of Newmarket, just a 10-minute walk away, comes alive on racing weekends. At other times, there’s plenty to keep you occupied for a couple of days. A vibrant high street of shops and cafes can occupy an afternoon’s strolling, and the National Horseracing Museum is a must-visit – even for those with minimal prior interest in the sport.
While some hotels can be a gamble, the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa is a sure-fire winner. Equine lovers, in particular, will be in their element.