The Courthouse CheshireIan Jones, Food and Drink Editor
Northern towns don’t get much more idyllic than Knutsford in Cheshire. Home to Tatton Park and countless other scenic locations, it’s a go-to destination for everyone wanting to escape the noise and chaos of the city, and soak up the beautiful English countryside.
A touch more unique than the average hotel, previously serving as Knutsford Crown Court for over 200 years
And it’s hard to think of a better place to stay than The Courthouse, a few dozen steps from the train station, in the dead centre of the town. As the name suggests, it’s a touch more unique than the average hotel, previously serving as Knutsford Crown Court for over 200 years. And it’s not just any old crown court, this is the location for many infamous trials, including that of Alan Turing’s conviction for ‘gross indecency’ in the dark days before homosexuality was decriminalised.
Since the Ministry Of Justice decided to sell the building in 2010, it has undergone a dramatic renovation, courtesy of local brothers Oliver and Dominic Heywood and their Flat Cap Hotels business. The hotel retains a lot of original fixtures and nods to its fascinating past, including – somewhat grimly – an adornment in the entrance that shows the number of people sentenced to be hanged there over the years.
The building itself is as charming as it gets, with rooms that once served as interrogation facilities converted into stylish hotel rooms, complete with slightly eerie portraits staring down at you. You could easily while away a few hours wandering about, up and down winding staircases and checking out the great views. The excellent in-house restaurant, Barristers, deserves a special mention, playing host to some of the most promising chefs in the region.
Even better, the staff are a true delight, endlessly friendly and happy to chat about anything – not to mention help out with anything you could possibly need. This kind of personal touch offers a nice change to the more harried air of hotels in the bigger nearby cities.
Fear not, no ghosts were encountered during my stay
Dog-lovers rejoice, this very much a dog-friendly venue. We were greeted with a dog bed, blanket and enough treats to keep even the most excitable pooch quiet for an hour or two. And there’s no need to worry about waking the neighbours, these walls are thick enough to drown out any noise, whether that be barking dogs or Victorian ghouls clanking their chains (fear not, no ghosts were encountered during my stay).
There aren’t many other hotels in the UK quite like The Courthouse, and considering the number of sights to visit in this wonderful corner of the North, this is well worth a special visit, with or without pets.