Callow Hall in Derbyshire was built in the mid 19th Century by H. J. Stevens for a local magistrate. It was a private house until 1982 and then was turned into a hotel. A hotel which is a far cry from its current form, which I visited last weekend. Gone are the heavy four-poster beds and the overwhelming wallpaper. Instead, you enter a place no longer catering to conferences and weddings; rather, it is the destination spot for families, couples and anyone wanting to take a breather from city life. The hotel group Wildhive took possession of Callow Hall in 2018. They cleverly enlisted the help of interior designer Isabella Worsley to breathe life back into the extraordinary house.
'We're so blessed to have so many gorgeous old houses dotted around the country, and preserving them is a privilege for anyone to take on. Callow Hall has been rooted in its community since it was first built, and Ed and Charles' vision has the incredible location right at its heart - and that's what makes it so special."
There is no denying this place is special; the austere Victorian structure of the house is hugely atmospheric. Set against the rich green surroundings, it looks, as our taxi driver said, 'like Hogwarts', well not quite, but it does feel otherworldly. That's even before you have stepped inside. Wildhive and Isabella have created a home from home, much nicer than my own. A place that you can lounge in, playing board games, reading a book or sipping a cocktail. The fabrics that adorn the furnishings are from a host of the biggest names in interiors, not fighting perfectly merging to make you feel optimum comfort levels. She has also found those finishing touches that will be utterly unique to Callow Hall, such as the excellent sconces she picked up at the Howe Warehouse sale and a heartstoppingly beautiful Swedish landscape that would not look out of place in the Tate. Oh, where was that from? Ah yes, Tat. But jokes aside (although it was stunning), the level of detail that surrounds Callow Hall is quite jaw-dropping. We stayed in one of their 'Hives', a mix between a treehouse and a cottage that sits amongst the treetops. They asked the hugely creative Tess Newall to add a personal touch with stencilled folklore patterns around the wood-panelled rooms. Just because you're not under the hotel roof doesn't mean the eye for detail stops.
Our two-night stay offered us a memorable break; we had a glorious sunny day on Saturday where half the party dutifully went to Chatsworth. A couple of mavericks tried to relive their youth and head to Alton Towers. When we met for lunch at The Duncombe Arms in Ashbourne (a delightful pub just a short drive away), they set about trying to persuade us that as well as fun, they felt their trip had also been cultural. Later on, we took over the outside dining spot and cooked up an impressive bbq. As the first properly sunny day of the year, and I can say hand on heart, there would have been nowhere I'd rather been.