Places To Stay In Derby: The Farmhouse at Mackworth

Trying to find somewhere to stay somewhere in the middle of England (we had a drive from as far North you can get, Northumberland, to as far South, Kent, to break up) to stay on a Sunday night where you’ll also be able to get a bite to eat in said location outside of any of the major city hubs was an unexpected challenge, but if you find yourself in a similar predicament you honestly can’t go wrong where we ended up booking: The Farmhouse at Mackworth.

Located just outside of Derby, it was fun, comfortable, full of friendly staff, with easy access to the motorway it provided an easy oasis slap bang in the middle of our 382 mile trek – it also proved a great brunch spot, too!

We stayed in ‘Minimus’, which I think was their smallest room, but still very lovely and big enough for us both to first collapse and shower in when we arrived, and to head back up to with a couple of glasses of wine from the bar to watch the Dutch Grand Prix on laptop catch up before enjoying the best nights sleep we’d had in days (there is an excellent reason I won’t be writing reviews of anywhere else we stayed on the trip!)

Our room was modern, clean and comfortable. All the little details had been thought of from the copious amount of fluffy white towels and bath towels available to the good selection of teas and snacks that met us. Okay, so some of it was a little worn, and they’ve got a bit of a damp problem in the bathrooms (probably hard to control in an old building where you can’t control how people use the bathroom) but the whole experience, the friendliness of the staff, and the price (we paid £80 for the night, which included breakfast) this was all easily overlooked.

I’d made a dinner reservation the same time I made the booking, so once we’d recovered from the drive and freshened up a bit we headed down for a few pints (good selection of beers on tap) in their conservatory before dinner. We both had the same thing, starting with the Pil Pil Prawns (sautéed in chilli, garlic and lemon butter). They don’t look like much, but they were perfectly cooked in an addictive lemon butter which had us both mopping our dishes with their excellent grilled sourdough.

Next, after switching to wine (J started with rose, but we agreed that reds were the better bet, go for the Tempranillo or the Malbec) we both had steaks (a compromise: we’d actually specifically booked The Farmhouse because it promised roasts on a Sunday night and online they looked fantastic, but as we were seated we were told they were not actually available. Very irritating and disappointing, until we saw how spoilt for choice we were on the main menu) which were perfectly cooked, if not a little under-salted. I chose wrong with the sirloin, J’s rib eye was much more flavourful, but that is on me. The bernaise was also good if not strangely served cold, and whilst I moved past the confit tomato (you need ripe tomatoes for a confit to make an impact, though I accept this is a problem almost everywhere in Britain) and the buttermilk onion rings (a brilliant coating but slightly underdone inside) I can confirm the homemade triple cooked chips were excellent and definitely hit the spot.

Breakfast in the conservatory the next morning consisted of a standard cereal / pastries / fruit juice buffet, as well as a hot menu and good teas and coffees at the table. Now, whilst I said breakfast was included in the room price, we paid as though it was not marked on the menu and we were only told when we ordered, what I wanted, the Breakfast Flatbread (grilled sausages, maple-smoked streaky bacon, crispy fried eggs, creme fraiche and their house ‘Gotcha’ ketchup I desperately need the recipe for) as well as the shakshuka were not actually included.

However, I really wanted it so I was so, so happy I decided to pay for it (I say I, in the end it was we because it was so big we did not manage to finish it between us!) – it just all worked, and was yes as good as it looks in this picture. Something I’m planning on recreating here at home with my homemade flatbreads, and the perfect thing to set you up for a long drive (or to cure a hangover if you overdid it a little in the bar the night before!)

The Farmhouse at Mackworth is not the nicest hotel I’ve stayed in (though it is probably the nicest pub I’ve stayed in) but as a whole package? We really, really enjoyed our stay. And also, it is there if you also need a solution to the suprisingly pressing question of ‘where to stay overnight if you don’t want to drive the length of England in one go’!