Lodge ranking: The George, Colchester, Essex

With over 500 years of history, The George sits proudly in the heart of Colchester’s thriving city center. The hotel is part of a collection of 13 venues – Surya Hotels that other Essex hotels like the Kingscliff Hotel in Holland on Sea have.

The George was such a prominent part of the main drag until recently and was closed for restoration, but boy was it worth it. With the Surya Hotel Group now at the helm, the hotel has been fully renovated throughout the renovation process in collaboration with the Colchester Council, a team of designers, restorers and specialist contractors.

As a listed property, this was no walk in the park, the new exterior was painted a classic sage green that corresponds to the historical guidelines, but also given the facade a real facelift. Behind it is a half-timbered building, which probably dates from the 14th century. The interior is full of unique details like murals by award-winning local artist Lucy Tiffney, a new partially covered Moroccan-style courtyard and a Victorian-inspired afternoon tea lounge – called T at The George.

room

The rooms and suites are full of designer elements and period elements

There are 49 rooms, all with designer, antique and exposed beams. Suites are also available; you even have a freestanding bathtub.

During my visit, I was lucky enough to stay in the Boudica Suite with my husband and two year old son Leo. The town and hotel have proven ties to Queen Boudica, hence the gentle nod in the name. It was a spacious room with contemporary decor, but with its beautiful beams and large sash windows it still retained the antique accents one would expect from a room of the period. The room was large with its own separate sitting area with a luxurious gold velvet sofa which was a perfect place to enjoy a coffee and read a book. There was also enough space for a travel cot for Leo, which was provided by the hotel.

to eat and drink

The Secret Courtyard has a Moroccan feel to it, perfect for relaxed lunches

With a stylish bar, lounge and restaurant, there are plenty of areas where you can drink and dine while you are here. From brunch to lunch to lighter snacks there is also a Secret Courtyard with its beautiful Moroccan and floral decor under a glass roof so you can enjoy all of its charm in rain or shine.

The two tier restaurant offers a daily la carte menu inspired by British and international cuisine using local and seasonal produce from award-winning suppliers. There is even a menu for little ones so everything at The George is family friendly.

My starter, a traditional tomato salad with basil, bocconcini, arugula, shallots and caper dressing, took me back to a memorable trip I took in Greece last year picking fresh tomatoes from the farm for my dish. Absolutely intense in taste and full of delicious sweet and sour notes, this dish could have come straight from the garden. My husband treated himself to the haddock risotto, the star of the show was the golden yolk of the crispy duck egg and, for Leo, of course, garlic dough balls.

The George Restaurant offers a la carte menu inspired by British and international cuisine

As a vegetarian, I was happy at the main event that The George also had a vegan menu, so I opted for the coconut curry lentils with roasted butternut squash, spinach pakoras and coriander. It’s hard to find places that do vegetarian food well, but I’m happy to report that The George is one of those who make it.

Life changes when you become a parent, so other mothers and fathers can likely relate to having an overtired child with them at dinner. Not only was the food fantastic but the staff at The George and not just the restaurant staff but everyone including the security guards. When our waitress suggested we have dessert in our room, we took the chance not only to try something different but also to save the dining room from toddler screams! Ten minutes later there is a knock on the door and a smiling face comes in with a tray of two perfectly cooked chocolate fondants and a small brownie for Leo. That’s service now.

Do

Colchester is steeped in history and is England’s oldest recorded city, with events going back over 2,000 years. Visitor attractions include Colchester Castle, its well-known zoo, and numerous shops, parks, and quaint villages around the city. The hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the castle and there is a local train station with good transport links.

In a nutshell

The 500 year old hotel has been expertly renovated with unique touches

As a regular visitor to The George (then) I have to say that I was impressed by his transformation. Much care, attention and love has gone into restoring this hotel to its former glory. It feels alive again and after a tough year it’s a pleasure to sit back and watch as laughter and conversation return to one of the most historic buildings in town.

As a family, we enjoyed the whole experience The George had to offer, but most of all we felt completely relaxed and welcome throughout our stay. Hard to find a place that ticks all the boxes, but we felt like this hotel really did it.

Fact box

The George has its own paid parking lot behind the hotel, so don’t be put off by parking on the main street.

Address: 116 High Street, Colchester CO1 1TD
Phone: 01206 578494
Website: suryahotels.co.uk/thegeorgehotel/
Instagram: instagram.com/thegeorgehotelcolchester/
Reserve a table here: suryahotels.co.uk/george-book-table/
Afternoon tea: instagram.com/teaatthegeorge/

Photography courtesy of Richard Blaxall / Photerior

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