|Cottage in the Wood Hotel & Restaurant
Holywell Road, Malvern Wells
by Sarah Shuckburgh
Family-run hotel and restaurant,
perched on the edge of the Malvern Hills.
The three-star Cottage in the Woods has been run by the
Pattin family since 1988 - John and Sue’s son Dominic is the
chef, their son-in-law is the General Manager, and their two
daughters also work at the hotel. John Pattin’s chatty
introduction in the hotel information file sets the tone -
the atmosphere is friendly, comfortable, conventional and
cosy, but neither sophisticated nor pretentious.
The hotel is in an amazing position, half way up the steep,
wooded escarpment of the Malvern Hills, with huge views
eastwards across the dead-flat Severn vale towards the
Cotswolds, 30 miles away. There are three buildings,
surrounded by terraces, colourful flowerbeds and trees. The
oldest house, the original ‘cottage in the wood’, contains
several bedrooms. Next to it, a Georgian Dower House houses
the reception, dining room, lounges, and more bedrooms. On
the other side of the cottage is a new bedroom annexe, built
in 2003 on the site of an old coach house, and named after
the Pinnacle peak above the hotel.
Make sure you get a bedroom facing the view - a few rooms
face the almost vertical hillside behind. The bedrooms and
bathrooms in the Dower House and Cottage vary in shape and
size, as you would expect in 18th century houses, and some
are quite poky. More spacious, and lighter, are the rooms in
the new, but curiously dated-looking Pinnacles. Throughout
the hotel, the rooms are furnished in a busy, old-fashioned
style - no minimalist designer chic here; it’s all patterned
wallpapers, patterned curtains, reproduction furniture, and
embossed dados. But the rooms are warm and welcoming, and
the water pressure in the Pinnacles bathrooms is amazing -
my bath filled in about a minute. Dogs are welcome in some
1. The view: if you’re feeling lazy, you could just sit on a
terrace or balcony and gaze at the river Severn glinting as
it winds through the vale, beneath huge skies.
2. Walks: footpaths lead from the hotel up through the woods
to the treeless 9-mile ridge of the Malvern Hills - easy
walking once you get up there, with marvellous views in
3. Malvern water: drink the strong-tasting local spring
water, prized for its healing qualities.
4. The Elgar Trail: Elgar liked to compose while walking in
the Malvern Hills. He is buried in St Wulstan’s church, in
the village below the hotel. There’s an interesting museum
at his birthplace in Lower Broadheath, ten miles away, and a
marked trail past places associated with Elgar‘s life.
5. The food: see below.
Not suitable for:
Trendy urbanites: this hotel is neither trendy nor urban.
Clubbers: the only night owls here are the owls.
Smokers: no smoking in the restaurant, most of the lounge,
and some bedrooms.
“Eating in, eating out”
The hotel restaurant has won several awards for its modern
British cooking, including 2 AA red rosettes. The chef,
Dominic Pattin, changes the menu every 6 weeks, always using
fresh local ingredients. (We ordered Herefordshire beef
fillet, rare and delicious). John Pattin’s cellar contains
600 different wines, including some from vineyards in
Worcestershire and Herefordshire - if you don‘t like this
local wine, John gives you a refund and drinks it himself!
There’s a separate list of half bottles, and a useful
fast-track list for guests who don‘t want to consider 600
options. The more expensive wines are very good value, as
the mark-up charge is fixed at £18.50.
Cottage in the Wood Hotel & Restaurant
Tel: 01684 57 58 59
Fax: 01684 560 662
Prices: doubles £99-£179
AA 3 star, 2 red rosettes; ETA 3 star silver award
First published by Travel Intelligence Ltd