Review: The Poet’s House, Ely - a treasure reluctantly shared

Poets House, Ely

Poets House, Ely - Credit: Archant/Natalie Hoodless

In less than a week we went from the rawness of festival camping to a weekend of calm, understated indulgence.

Stepping into our suite at The Poets House Hotel my weary body literally melted as I set eyes on the deep, free-standing, copper roll-top bath proudly displayed in one corner of the room.

Polished to beyond gleaming, it stole my attention, and my heart. That was until I heard it would take 25 minutes for the arched taps to work their magic and fill the bath to brimming point.

But after three nights sleeping rough at Glastonbury, a steaming bubble bath was a luxury I felt truly entitled to and I knew the wait would be more than worth it.

The recently-opened Poets House, in Ely, offers a blend of original charm and ‘stunningly innovative interiors’, according to its website.

While the bath offered a touch of historic charm, more modern luxury came in the form of a docking station so we could fill the room with our favourite tunes straight from our iPhones or iPod, and a mini iPad that replaced the usual printed hotel literature. It goes without saying that all rooms are afforded free wi-fi access.

The unassuming frontage of the boutique hotel, which sits right in the heart of Ely and only a short stroll from Ely Cathedral, belies what lays beneath.

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Driving through the archway you are met by a sleek glass-fronted bar area that juts out into the perfectly appointed court yard, giving that blend of traditional charm with sharp, modern innovation.

Inside, it seems the hotel has sought inspiration from the most serene of spa hotels, and they have dispensed with the stern-looking traditional check-in desk. Instead, the resident butler quickly sweeps your cases away while your booking details checked on a slim-line laptop.

Dinner reservations were made in advance so, ignoring the urge to open the taps and let the steaming water flood into the shining bath, we reluctantly took up our table in the restaurant.

Our waiter handed us three menus - a house menu with three courses offered for £25.50, a garden menu with seasonal options for vegetarians also perfect for a lighter appetite on a hot summer’s evening, and the full a la carte menu.

This was the most stressful part of our mini-break, choosing which meal we wanted and from which menu.

The only option was to order a cucumber Martini cocktail to sip while we pondered the options.

Starting with pea velouté with crispy hen’s egg and asparagus soldiers, and a crab cocktail, we selected hearty mains of fillet of Riverside beef and hay-smoked rump of Denham Estate spring lamb.

Expecting gentile portions, we were pleasantly surprised to find it was a struggle to finish our meals, both served with seasonal, local vegetables.

That was because we were saving ourselves for the desserts - emulating the hotel, these were modern takes on very traditional puddings.

Vanilla custard cream, with poached rhubarb and crispy meringue was an indulgent twist on rhubarb crumble that raises The Poets House above its competitors.

Needless to say, breakfast did not dissapoint. Fresh salmon, creamy scrambled eggs and brioche toast was just one of a selection of mouth-watering options to give you an early boost.

The coffee, however, failed to live up to the rest of the offerings. A minor flaw in an otherwise spotless record.

The cathedral is an obvious place to visit when staying at The Poets House, and when we visited there was summer fair taking place in the grounds. Slowing our pace to admire the stalls and watch children playing, our festival dirt well and truly soaked away, it was hard to envisage ever rolling the tent out again.

Prices start from £164 per room for bed and breakfast.

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