The first few months of the year are notoriously drab, a time when the excitement of festive events and bright lights of Christmas have come to an end.
It’s a time when most reflect on the previous year and make plans for more exciting months ahead. But, whilst the social events in your calendar may be lacking, why wait until the summer, for warmer weather or for the next package holiday deal to land in your inbox?
Before 2019 it would not have occurred to me enjoy a winter staycation in the UK. How wrong was I?
These staycations or microgaps made me realise that you don’t have to venture far, spend a lot of money or book off limited annual leave to enjoy a break. When it comes to it, the start of the year is likely to be the time when your spirits need lifting the most and I was already craving some excitement just after one week back to work!
Staycation at a Boutique Hotel in Bedford
Bedford is only around 30 minutes drive from my home in Milton Keynes, yet I had never visited. I guess it’s a case of exploring everywhere apart from the places on your doorstep sometimes!
Regardless of the short distance, a night in a hotel can be just what’s needed, whether you are looking for a night away from the kids, a girly evening in or romantic weekend break in the UK, minus home distractions.
It’s quite therapeutic to enjoy a one night getaway in the UK, without having to think about all the items I would need to pack for a longer break!
One Night Stay at The Embankment Hotel Bedford
The Embankment Hotel dates back to 1891 and its iconic chocolate-box exterior is a beautiful feature to match the hotel’s equally idyllic views of the River Great Ouse, which directly fronts the hotel. The Embankment Hotel retains the charm from its late-Victorian heritage, sympathetically renovated by owners Peach Pubs, the hotel succeeds in blending classic styling with modern design.
The Embankment Pub Bedford is a popular gastropub and place to eat, but for those that have already dined at The Embankment, the Hotel has 20 boutique en-suite rooms to really make a night of it.
First Impressions of our Boutique Room at The Embankment Hotel Bedford
Mum and I really were blown away when we first opened the door to our River View Suite at The Embankment (room number 102.)
The huge free-standing copper roll-top bath caught my eye in particular (it was at this point I made a mental note to have a dip later in the evening!)
The angle of our entry into the room gave us a glimpse into our huge boutique room, beautifully partitioned to lead on to the bathroom suite.
As our eyes took in every feature, I was keen to capture the moment and the room with my camera before our belongings became scattered to mark our stay.
Mum looked on as I snapped away to the sounds of classical music playing through the wall-mounted TV.
The colour scheme of blue and white (with subtle red colouring on the pillows) enables the gilded gold touches from the mirrors, frames and lamps to be the focal points of the room. These features add to the overall charm and decadence of the room, giving a subtle nod to the hotel’s Victorian past.
The hotel had kindly made up the pull-out sofa bed to give me and Mum our own beds (and that was without me giving them the heads up about Mum’s snoring…Zzz!)
We each had a fluffy white robe and slippers packed in recycled paper laid on the bed awaiting our girls night in, with an array of toiletries included.
Mum, of course, was drawn to the bottle of wine and snacks placed on a table in front of the window. Though, unfortunately, these came at an additional price (wine priced at £24.99). If anything, it gave us an excuse to pop into town, which is something we had planned to do anyway.
Dining at The Embankment Bedford Restaurant
After our stroll into town, browsing the shops in Bedford high street, we enjoyed a couple of glasses of red wine as we got ourselves ready for dinner.
During the winter months, I go somewhat into hibernation mode so it was a real treat for Mum and me to be out dining together. Dining out is done with ease when you are staying at the hotel as you merely pop down the stairs, without the usual worries of having change for taxis or that nagging feeling that you have forgotten something!
Our reservation was booked for 7.30 pm and our waitress kindly brought us over a selection of mixed olives whilst we browsed the menu. The olives are very tasty indeed and were devoured very quickly.
The Embankment Bedford menu is varied, providing a great number of menu choices whatever your preferences. I had already narrowed down a starter that I had my eye on from browsing the menu before our stay (a starter I’m very sure Adam would have ordered if he had been invited along). Minus Adam, I was free to order what I wanted (I normally choose different menu options to enable more foodie photos) and I wasn’t disappointed.
To start, I ordered the beef brisket hash with poached egg and rocket. The beef brisket is mixed in with potato to create a soft hash, served with brown sauce it creates a tasty breakfast inspired starter. I can’t tell you how yummy the egg tasted melted into the beef brisket potato hash, it was so good and the rocket added to the flavour.
In all honesty, this is exactly the kind of starter or light dish I like, as I often get frustrated when pubs and restaurants do not have options for small light bites like this to go alongside hearty pub classics at lunchtime. I don’t always want to ruin my dinner with a big meal and this time of year salad isn’t top of the pops for a menu choice. I wasn’t disappointed…!
I thoroughly enjoyed the beef hash starter and would highly recommend it to anyone dining at The Embankment for a starter or light bite. Mum ordered the potted crab and I watched in amusement as she chiselled her way through the butter layer to get to the crab in the ramekin dish. A little concentration from Mum and a smile, she enjoyed her starter.
From browsing the menu before our arrival, I had my eye on two main dishes in particular; the free-range coq au vin (a winter classic) and the pan-fried hake with white bean cassoulet, cockles and mussels (because I love seafood). I chose the hake and Mum chose the coq au vin, which was great because I got to try both dishes!
Both dishes came with options for additional sides and the mash Mum ordered was perfect to accompany her coq au vin. I deliberated on whether to order potatoes as I was hungry, though the waitress explained that the dish is quite filling. I took the advice and didn’t order the potatoes and was glad that I didn’t as the hake dish whilst light, is filling.
The seasoned hake is beautifully presented, pan-fried with the skin on top to create a crispy top layer. The white bean cassoulet adds a creamy, buttery taste to the dish, as well as provides the perfect sauce to swirl in the fish.
The rustic white bean cassoulet made me reminisce about the heartwarming dishes I had enjoyed in Northern Italy. I normally associate fish dishes with the summer as I tend to eat more seafood during sun holidays (evident in my recent post about a winter sun holiday in the Canary Islands). Though every heartwarming bite of this pan-fried hake and cassoulet stew was like a soulful embrace of hearty goodness and it is most definitely a dish I would love to recreate at home.
Mum’s coq au vin didn’t disappoint. Stewed to perfection, the coq au vin is served with plentiful cabbage, topped with parsley and is ample portion size. I may have to pop back to The Embankment to order this myself!
We had saved very little room for dessert, but with our bellies filled with all the delicious food we had already consumed, it was hard to resist missing out on a great dessert.
Mum opted for a strawberry ice cream and I couldn’t resist ordering the warm chocolate fondant with salted caramel popcorn and pistachio ice cream.
Pistachio ice cream has been a favourite of mine since I tried it for the first time during a holiday to Dubrovnik, Croatia. The warm chocolate fondant was as indulgent as I’d anticipated, and was just the right size in light of all the food we had consumed before. I tried my best, but I was too full to eat the whole dessert and lacked patience for the ice cream to thaw.
Napkins placed on the table, Mum and I took the stairs up to our room, following a delicious dining experience at The Embankment.
Relaxing Stay at The Embankment, Bedford
With bellies full from our meal, I could have quite easily slipped into my pyjamas and drifted off to sleep. But, the copper roll-top bath was a relaxing opportunity I just could not miss.
As the hot water poured from the tap into the bath, I gathered the hotel’s dressing gown, slippers and poured a glass of wine to take into the bathroom with me.
I lay back listening to a podcast, wine in hand and up to my neck in bubbles as I left Mum to unwind in the bedroom area.
The copper bath at The Embankment is the perfect way to end a day, believe me.
I had all intentions of reading a few chapters of my book following my bath. Wrapped in my fluffy robe and turning the pages, I realised that Mum had already drifted off to sleep. Luckily, I had already intended on taking the pull-out sofa bed…
I could hardly keep my eyes open as I gathered my things, moved to the sofa-bed and turned off the light.
The Embankment Bedford Breakfast
I didn’t hear a peep of road noise from outside during the night, if anything, being too toasty in the pull-out bed and Mum’s snores were the only things that woke me.
We packed away our girls weekend bags (I had taken the opportunity to take along my Cabin Max Travel Hack backpack – review coming soon) and checked out around 10.30 before the check out time of 11 am.
Breakfast is served until 11 am and includes an array of pastries, juices, fruit and cereals to accompany the main breakfast menu choices.
Mum chose the smashed avocado with free-range poached eggs, spring onion and chilli on toasted sourdough, which looked incredibly tasty!
I was keen to order the pancakes as I hadn’t eaten them for breakfast since visiting Miami at Easter. The blueberry pancakes are very tasty, though, whilst I am conscious about being healthier, the craving for more maple syrup was a factor that was hard to ignore…
Things to do in Bedford UK
After our breakfast, we went for a walk along the river and were greeted by lots of excitement as young rowing clubs were taking part in a competition.
The various rowing clubs lining the River Great Ouse attracted crowds, from dog walkers, morning strollers, locals and visitors to Bedford.
We couldn’t help but be swept up in the excitement as people cheered on the young rowers and mingled on the bridges each-side of the river.
The Longholme is a great place to stop for a coffee and a bite to eat, with picturesque views of the water.
Additional green spaces nearby such as Russell Park, Priory Marina Country Park are ideal for a stroll (or even a picnic in warmer weather).
Bedford also has The Higgins Art Gallery Museum and a shopping high street for those looking for things to do during a stay. The Bedford Castle Mound (remains of a Saxon Castle) and Victorian Gardens are a short walk from The Embankment.
For those looking to make the most of the nightlife in Bedford, cocktail bar Bears & Tales came highly recommended on my Facebook post (thanks Victoria). I really miss the former nightclubs in Milton Keynes, which seem to have dwindled over the years and unlike MK, Bedford has kept up its nightlife, with nightclub events such as Garage Nation a regular occurrence.
With Milton Keynes, Whipsnade Zoo and Woburn a short drive away, there are plenty of things to do nearby for those enjoying a staycation in Bedford.
A Weekend Break at The Embankment, Bedford
Overall, The Embankment provided me and Mum with a perfect stay and girls getaway.
The beds are big and comfortable with crisp white linen and fluffy robes laid out for use during your stay. I loved the little touches in the room and that The Embankment are working with Bedford Homeless charities to collect spare change from guests for those that are not as fortunate to enjoy a luxury hotel stay.
The boutique hotel room with river view is inviting, spacious and well-equipped with a hairdryer, toiletries, flat-screen TV with Freeview, radio and tea/coffee making facilities.
Not to mention, the shower and Instagram-worthy roll-top copper bath!
The Embankment has already established itself as a great gastropub in Bedford (Mum and I couldn’t believe how popular the restaurant was for January, for both dinner and breakfast service). The food is incredible and the service is top-notch; it’s not hard to see why The Embankment is popular for a special meal out and for those popping in for their morning breakfast and coffee with their pooch in tow.
Ideal for a girls getaway or a romantic break away, The Embankment has also hosted small intimate weddings and parties, with additional dining rooms available for special events. If you’re looking for a boutique stay in Bedfordshire, look no further than The Embankment Hotel, Bedford.
Please find details below of how to book your own stay at The Embankment Hotel Bedford:
The Embankment Hotel Bedford
*Please note, The Embankment Bedford parking is limited to a free, small car park to the rear.
I hope you enjoyed reading my review of The Embankment Hotel Bedford – Special thanks to Gemma, Tess and The Embankment team for hosting our wonderful stay.
Staying at The Embankment opened my eyes to enjoying more staycations closer to home and exploring more of the areas on my doorstep. Inspired for your next microgap or UK staycation, check out my top picks below:
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