Venue Focus: Sopwell House
The whole In2Events team recently had the opportunity to explore and experience the lovely Sopwell House. As host to our Q1 update meeting, we arrived in the Hertfordshire countryside and were eager to take the chance to really get to know this historic and pretty venue better.
Location: St. Albans, Hertfordshire
Rooms: 112 guest rooms, including family and balcony suites
Suites: Mews Suites
Dining: 2 AA Rosette The Restaurant and The Brasserie
Drinking: Conservatory Bar and Cocktail Lounge
Event Space: 15 flexible event spaces
Sopwell House is a beautiful family-run hotel, with a rich and intriguing history spanning back over 300 years. During our stay, the history of the property was bought to life by the current owner Abraham Bejerano, who took the time to explain the evolution of the property and its links with royalty.
The venue is now part of the AB Hotels brand, which is one of two properties in the collection; the other, the Five Lakes Resort, is located in Essex. Although it’s family owned, Sopwell House has all the amenities you’d expect from a larger chain; there is also an undeniable warmth, friendliness and personality that comes across in every element of the hotels approach, that is often missing from bigger franchises.
Situated in St. Albans, Sopwell House is beautifully framed by lush green gardens and surrounded by 12 acres of Hertfordshire countryside, which even in the rain (typical British summer weather) adds to the house’s grandeur and elegance.
Positioned as ‘your country home from home’, the Georgian country house is instantly welcoming and provides a secluded retreat that has great transport links to nearby London; perfect for those looking to hold residentials, meetings, conferences or incentive breaks outside the hustle and bustle of the capital.
There’s more than meets the eye with Sopwell, and behind the exterior lies a labyrinth of modern event spaces, 15 in total, that would be great for meetings and conferences large and small.
The event space is accessed via a separate entrance, which we thought was a really well-thought-out offering; linking delegates directly to where they need to be, whilst adding a real sense of exclusivity. Plus, the purpose-built reception area, with integrated digital signage screens can be branded up easily and can serve as a productive space for meeting, greeting and attendee registration.
Although there is a separate entrance, the meeting spaces are easily and internally accessible from the main hotel building, allowing delegates to move freely within the complex. It is worth highlighting though that just outside the main meeting areas there is a large, well-situated foyer area and two bars for private event use, allowing the opportunity for attendees to be nicely looked after all in one place.
The largest space, the St. Alban suite has a capacity of up to 700pax and is an impressive unimpeded space, that benefits from natural light, high ceilings and has a mood lighting system that can be customised to powerful effect.
Our meeting was held in the Lady Patricia & Princess Alice rooms which were ideal for our medium sized team Q1 review, with projector and screen equipment available for presentations. The rooms were also spacious, with picturesque views out onto the gardens, which added a sense of calm to the surroundings. And, with hot beverages, orange juice and pastries on arrival, it’s safe to say we were a happy team of event profs ready to get down to business.
Mansion House, the main building, has 112 well-furnished and comfortable rooms. With twin and double occupancy availability, the hotel is able to accommodate groups with differing room requirements, which is good if you’re looking to extend a stay post-event or want to book for overnight incentive stays.
Of course, as a four-star establishment the rooms all have WiFi, TV with Sky, air conditioning and coffee and tea making facilities, which included tasty complementary biscuits (always a bonus and in our eyes a hotel room essential). Add to this line-up, towelling bath robes, slippers and ELEMIS toiletries – all of which are fabulous to use after a relaxing trip to the onsite Cotton Mill Spa – and you’ve got everything you could need for a wonderful stay.
The beds were extremely comfy, and the blackout curtains made for a delightful night’s sleep; thankfully the promise of a hearty breakfast got us up and moving the next morning.
During our show around of the venue, we were introduced to the Mews Suites, which are separate from the main hotel and only accessible through a set of private gates. The suites are complemented by exclusive-use landscaped gardens, created by RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Gold award-winner, Ann-Marie Powell.
The vibe of the gated accommodation is amazing, and the rooms are a little touch of luxury, with some boasting fireplaces, four-poster beds, in-room baths, spa baths and gorgeous kitchenettes: for those who want some self-sufficiency whilst they visit.
As we left this part of the hotel and looked back down the tranquil gardens, which act as the focal point to the suite entrances, we agreed that this option of accommodation would add the real wow factor and enhance a stay at Sopwell for any VIP guests.
Cotton Mill Spa
What can we say? Words, to be honest, probably won’t do the newly refurbished Private Members Cotton Mill Spa justice.
After our meeting had finished and we’d enjoyed a fantastic lunch and guided tour of the hotel, we had some time to enjoy the spa facilities on offer. Hello, to an indoor pool, two vitality pools, steam rooms and sauna. For those who want to go really hard on the health front (there were some among us), there’s also a gym that houses a range of state-of-the-art equipment. The visually remarkable gym space was so well done, that it nearly enticed those of us who are less inclined to hop on a treadmill to partake in some gym action.
The team were also lucky enough to get a private tour of the Cotton Mills newly opened, The Club. As a guest of Sopwell House you can access, The Club for a supplement, and if you do, you won’t be disappointed.
Every aspect of The Club has been designed to fulfil the ‘Private Members’ brief and the facilities are fabulously geared towards their discerning clientele, who will certainly receive the best of the best when frequenting this spa and experiencing the mega facilities on offer.
Journeying around The Club, it was hard not to be overcome by peace and tranquilly: there was a strong sense of being removed from reality and the stresses and strains of everyday life. Everything from the architecture, down to the furnishings had obviously been sensitively considered to add to the serenity and calming ambience. The spa gardens, Garden Room, Whisper Room and Deep Relaxation Room were out of this world, and we are all definitely more than tempted to book a return visit to try The Club out for ourselves.
After treatments at the Cotton Mill, guests can rest in the Rose Relaxation Room. There’s even a sumptuous sitting room for spa users to base themselves in should they want something to eat and drink during their pampering session.
And, as if all that wasn’t enough to offer, there is also a salon onsite. Honestly, dragging ourselves away from the spa was hard and we couldn’t wax lyrical enough about the phenomenal job the hotel has done in revolutionising their spa facilities; it’s clear that their customer needs and desires have been placed firmly at the heart of everything that’s been developed.
Following our meeting, we headed to The Brasserie for a buffet-style lunch. We’ve had our fair share of buffets and it’s fair to say they can be a bit hit or miss – not the case here though. The food was delicious and had everyone filling their plates with hot and cold cuisine and a selection of superb miniature deserts.
There’s certainly no shortage of places to eat at Sopwell; as well as The Brasserie, there’s also The Restaurant, a 2 AA Rosette restaurant that serves gourmet cuisine. You can also take Afternoon Tea, and if you’re looking for a light meal or snack The Cocktail Lounge and The Conservatory Bar are the places to visit.
Private dining experiences can also be arranged, which as well as the above, places Sopwell as a venue that can cater broadly for an array of events.
We finished off our busy, but leisurely day with a private indoor BBQ. Well the BBQ cooking was actually outside but due to the grim downpours that plagued the day, we were forced inside. This was no bad thing though, as it meant we got to try out the Conservatory Bar, which was reserved just for In2Events.
Whilst our chefs braved the weather and cooked up a storm under a canopy, we were treated to a cocktail masterclass, which got us all up and involved in mixing and creating beverages that were a little too easy to drink.
Soon after our cocktail session an abundance of BBQ food was laid before us. From meat to seafood and salads to grilled halloumi, all the key components of a great BBQ had been served. Again, the food was excellent, and we got to enjoy it in the relaxed and informal settings of the Conservatory Bar, which was a unique space, brilliant for dining of this nature.
Our visit to Sopwell House balanced business and leisure brilliantly. We felt instantly welcomed, and although the house is grand, it’s not intimidating and makes you feel at ease and able to enjoy everything on offer, contributing to a memorable stay.
With modern event and meeting spaces, strong accommodation options and breath-taking spa facilities, Sopwell is an awesome all-round venue and we’d certainly be pleased to put the hotel forward to clients looking for a location for summer or Christmas parties, residentials, meetings, conferences or as a UK based incentive destination.
Thanks for having us Sopwell House.