Bethnal&Bec, Hertfordshire – Review
by Michael Pounder
Nestled in the idyllic village of Cottered in the rolling hills of Hertfordshire, Bethnal&Bec offers a truly unique luxury rural retreat within easy reach of the A1 and just over 40 miles from central London.
Owners Vicky and Chris Saynor have created two stylish, award-winning adults-only studio apartments within the grounds of their property, each equipped with the latest technology and decorated in a quirky, contemporary style – described in their own words as ‘city chic meets country comfort in a stylish home-from-home for grown-ups’.
Having experienced a surprisingly hassle-free journey from Yorkshire – straight down the A1 – on a chilly but mercifully dry November day, we stopped off in nearby Buntingford, one of a number of charming market towns in the area, when we received a text from Chris to tell us that our retreat was ready. Making our way back down the winding A507 to Cottered, Bethnal&Bec was easily accessible from the main road, where there was off-road, undercover parking.
Entering our apartment – Bethnal – for the first time was literally a jaw-dropping experience. Chris and Vicky’s ethos is to bridge the gap between hotel and self-catering accommodation while incorporating all the latest creature comforts, and to that end they have left no stone unturned in their quest for perfection.
Each of the two studios boasts – among other things – a king-size bed, smart TV with Netflix, underfloor heating, double bath, fully fitted kitchen, wi-fi, Nest heating, Bluetooth record player, wood-burner and private hot tub and garden. In a nutshell, everything you could possibly want for a luxurious, comfortable break, and much more besides. And they’re dog-friendly to boot!
The luxury bathroom has double rainforest showers and a kooky Heath Robinson-esque piping system for the sink that, along with the sliding door, brought to mind the Industrial Zone from The Crystal Maze. The well-appointed kitchen has everything required for eating in, including a state-of-the-art induction hob, all teamed with wonderfully stylish décor and beautiful antique furniture throughout.
One of the particularly appealing features of the retreat is the well-stocked honesty pantry, meaning that after a long journey – when you may not feel up to heading back out to find the local shops – you can pick and choose what you’d like from the varied selection of goods. There are specially selected beers and ciders to ice creams, chocolate and crisp treats, even an Indian meal ready in the freezer. All the basics are also provided for free – teas, coffees and cereals, not to mention the ingredients for a cooked breakfast.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also an array of extras on offer, with dine-in options including Pizza Oven, Burger Night and Popcorn Party, as well as in-room massages and beauty treatments.
“Worth exploring the area”
While it would be entirely forgivable to spend all day in the hot tub or bath, taking in the views of rural Hertfordshire with a glass of your favourite tipple in your hand, it is definitely worth exploring the area, whether that be on foot, or on two or four wheels.
A quick glance at the local Ordnance Survey map confirms that Cottered is criss-crossed with public footpaths, and the neighbouring villages are blessed with quintessentially English pubs, complete with roaring fires and mouth-watering menus. We headed to Royston, around 10 miles away, where we happened upon the Lounge India restaurant, which I can heartily recommend.
Slightly further afield, Cambridge is a half-hour drive away, while there are numerous attractions, including Knebworth House, Hatfield House, the Imperial War Museum Duxford and the Henry Moore Foundation within striking distance.
Bethnal&Bec is certainly something different – an eclectic mix of thoroughly modern and timelessly stylish. The location means it’s the perfect distance for busy Londoners looking for a picturesque, country getaway, but it’s also within a couple of hours’ drive from the Midlands and North.
It’s fair to say Vicky and Chris really have thought of everything, and their attention to detail is second to none. As a consequence they have created something special here – the ultimate get-away-from-it-all retreat. There are also plans afoot for a third apartment, The Foaling Shed, in the near future, so watch this space!
Bethnal&Bec, Nottinghams, Cottered, Herts SG9 9PU
Rooms start from £220