In the leafy Surrey village of Claygate, The Foley hotel makes an equally good base for fans of racing or royal history
andown Park is just three miles away from Claygate, if you fancy a flutter, with Epsom Downs at around eight. Or you can drive to the gloriously majestic Hampton Court Palace in ten minutes flat. Which is what we did – rewarding ourselves with large glasses of chilled Chilean Sauvignon in The Foley’s pretty garden after a day exploring the Tudor kitchens and wine cellars of Henry VIII’s impressive country pile.
A former boxing gym and now a smart, recently-revamped boutique hotel under the Young’s umbrella, The Foley has 17 rooms all with a slightly different layout. The décor is contemporary and chintz-free, but dotted with cute retro touches such as 1970s trimphones and – appropriately given its proximity to the equine world – evocative black and white photos of Thirties racegoers. Don’t set an early alarm either, as the beds are super-comfy.
The big bar – think mismatched chairs, robust oak tables and squishy old chesterfields – is a magnet for locals, especially for the Saturday barbecue. Then there’s the Sunday roast; our plates piled high with pork belly, roasties and giant Yorkshires were fit for Hampton Court’s very own glutton, Henry VIII, himself. Or explore a la carte pub staples like beer battered cod, chicken, leek and ham pie or an intriguing seafood chowder. Definitely stay for the breakfast, though, because the menu tempts you with weekend luxuries like poached eggs and smashed avo on sourdough or eggs benedict. There’s the traditional English fry up too, obviously, if you really can’t resist beans and a sausage.