An Inspector Calls: Maison Talbooth has big rooms but curtains that look like beige towelling robes
- The Inspector checked into Maison Talbooth which is part of the Milsom group
- There are 12 rooms but no restaurant so only serves breakfast and light lunches
- The Pool House has a swimming pool, hot tub, log-burning fire and honesty bar
Maison Talbooth is part of the privately owned Milsom group, in which there are five hotels and one stand-alone restaurant all in Essex and Suffolk.
‘How does this one compare to the others?’ I ask a friendly member of staff, who is standing next to a grand piano just inside the entrance to this house in the heart of Constable Country, not far from Colchester.
‘It’s more luxury,’ she says.
Maison Talbooth near Colchester, pictured, is part of the privately owned Milsom group
There are 12 bedrooms, but it has no restaurant (though breakfast and light lunches are served in the Garden Room).
Our room is big, but gloomy, with curtains that look like beige towelling robes and plastic lamps and bedside tables that must have been regarded as cutting edge — or even ‘luxury’ — in the Nineties.
A shagpile throw adorns the leather head-boarded bed and there’s an uninviting little patio reached through French windows, where rusting pipes vie for attention with a huge extractor.
Pillows on the bed depict a man and woman about to enjoy a passionate embrace, but the wallpaper doesn’t strike a romantic chord. It’s made up of squares, upon which are sentences such as: ‘I’m not marrying for love twice,’ and: ‘Running away — best decision I made.’
A friendly New Zealander, who used to play minor counties cricket, ferries guests back and forth to dinner in a smart saloon car, heading to either the posh Le Talbooth or Milsoms Brasserie, both three minutes away.
We opt for posh, and it’s a thrilling setting beside the River Stour, albeit within earshot of the A12. The food is fussy, service highly professional and there’s a terrific wine list.
The Pool House, pictured, has a swimming pool, hot tub, log-burning fire and honesty bar
A big marquee has been set up in the garden where a wedding reception is at full throttle, complete with heavy bass that might be fun for invited guests, but is an intrusion for the rest of us.
‘I like that it’s all privately owned,’ says my wife. Me too, especially in the morning at the hotel, where breakfast can be taken informally on the terrace.
Across the immaculate lawn is a tennis court and the Pool House, with a swimming pool, hot tub, log-burning fire and honesty bar.
We’re low on fuel and, as we check out, the receptionist goes to great lengths to explain where the closest petrol station is. We leave feeling as if we’ve been guests rather than customers. And that counts for a lot.