Birch Hotel Review | Travel
Birch, which promotes itself primarily as a community, rather than a hotel or membership club, opened in Cheshunt just a few train stops from Liverpool Street or an hour’s drive from London – OR 50 minutes bike ride from our house on the N16 according to google maps which actually turned into 1h30, a few wrong turns and hairy last 5 minutes on a three lane highway. But it’s still the way to travel in good weather.
Set in a Grade II listed property with a colorful past, the building was originally built as an entertaining pad by Lady Valerie Meux, rumored to be a Lady of the Night. In recent years it has been a rather lackluster and indescribable hotel and conference venue, so it’s great to see the mansion restored to its former glory – parties included.
When you arrive, the first thing you notice is THIS Georgian staircase (the one that has been all over social media before), just one of the beautiful original features of the building which have all been lovingly restored. And yes, we posted it. The main house also contains a handful of the 140 guest rooms which have been purposefully designed to encourage guests to be part of the community and take advantage of all the activities on offer. From pottery to candle casting, baking in the large onsite interactive bakery, gong baths, wild yoga, glassblowing, painting and more, you can really leave after learning a thing or two. Or with a full seven piece pottery set, like we did after a 3 hour stay in the studio – paid for itself when you look at those ceramics prices in Hackney.
The rooms are simply designed and it’s refreshing to see. Rather than ripping it all out and starting over, they restored and repaired, making the renovation more sustainable while saving money. You will not find televisions in the bedroom; instead, there’s a screening room below for the movies and you’re encouraged to get your hands dirty and embrace the Birch way of life.
Food wise, you’re well taken care of with two restaurants overseen by Robin Gill and a growing farm with daily fresh eggs from their rescued hens and a rumor of super cute pigs. For all-day meals and snacks there is Valeries (don’t miss the chic fish finger sarnie!) And for something a little more upscale, the Zebra Riding Club – named after the horses of Lady Valerie painted with stripes resembling zebras. This is where Gill takes things up a notch with an incredible evening tasting menu, starting with snacks like house coppa and pickled tomatoes followed by dishes like roasted potatoes with rosemary and thyme, releasing an incredible smell of herbs that fills the restaurant every time they are put in the open wood oven; salt marsh lamb; and ‘cuddly in a cup’ heritage grains with a fresh egg. It is a simple and refined country cuisine.
For those who want to continue with the DIY theme, there are also outdoor barbecues that you can hire and there is a DJ every weekend that spins until the early hours of the morning – although that reminds us a bit. the end of a wedding atmosphere, with the last few hanging stragglers (us included!)
Considering the price, plans for an outdoor lido next year, the wealth of activities and food on offer, Birch is definitely a place we would recommend and it really is a place you can go and have a completely different experience than anyone else – including your partner – and its proximity to London is an added bonus.
Lieutenant Ellis Way, Cheshunt, EN7 5HW