The Old Hall in Ely has modernised the concept of a traditional manor house - a luxurious B&B and now with a fine dining restaurant

Like many businesses, The Old Hall, near Ely, has been forced to adapt its offerings because of the

Like many businesses, The Old Hall, near Ely, has been forced to adapt its offerings because of the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: The Old Hall. Ely - Credit: Archant

Most businesses have had to adapt since Covid-19, and The Old Hall in Ely is among them. Louise Hepburn found out how during an overnight stay.

The Cathedral Room at The Old Hall, in Ely. Pictures: Gary Rowsel Photography

The Cathedral Room at The Old Hall, in Ely. Pictures: Gary Rowsel Photography - Credit: Gary Rowsel Photography

More than 10 years ago now, maybe longer, I used to pass The Old Hall on the outskirts of the historic city of Ely when visiting family in the area.

Whether I was driving past it on the A142 or looking out across the Fens from a train window, this stunning manor house always caught my eye.

From afar, I noticed the building’s restoration progress into the stunning location it is today.

The interior features of The Old Hall, near Ely, have been modernised but still have a traditional f

The interior features of The Old Hall, near Ely, have been modernised but still have a traditional feel. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

At the time, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to experience an overnight stay after it had been tastefully renovated.

And since arranging our visit, I’ve been really interested and intrigued about what it’s going to be like there.

A property from the Jacobean-era and the birthplace of Elizabeth Stewart, Oliver Cromwell’s mother, the Morbey family bought the manor house and surrounding estate in 1860.

Haddock fishcake (starter), chicken ballotine (starter) and lemon parfait dessert served in the rest

Haddock fishcake (starter), chicken ballotine (starter) and lemon parfait dessert served in the restaurant at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

Most Read

Over the years, the house had fallen into disrepair and later generations of that same family have been working on its renovation since 1997. In 2010, it first opened for guests.

Like many businesses in the current climate, The Old Hall has had to shift its positioning slightly because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is very geared up for weddings, which the government has said can still go ahead with certain measures in place.

Reporter Louise Hepburn enjoying a pre-dinner drink at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepb

Reporter Louise Hepburn enjoying a pre-dinner drink at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

But the family at the heart of this property are now promoting the luxury bed and breakfast side of the business more, and also offer fine dining in its restaurant.

It means those living nearby get to enjoy The Old Hall in all its splendour, and dine with a wonderful view of Ely Cathedral over the Fens.

My husband and I arrived late afternoon on what was the last evening of a recent spell of hot weather.

The gardens at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Fountain Photography.

The gardens at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Fountain Photography. - Credit: Archant

As we turned off the A142, our approach to the manor house felt very grand.

There’s a gated entrance, the surrounding landscaping is structured and precise and the property itself becomes more impressive the closer you get.

It has been tastefully restored and modernised in a way that respects the building’s character and cleverly celebrates its history.

Views of Ely Cathedral from the terrace of The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Fountain Photography

Views of Ely Cathedral from the terrace of The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Fountain Photography - Credit: Archant

From the welcome we received at the very start of our stay to the final farewell, the staff were warm, helpful and kind throughout.

Their sentiments are genuine, and on reflection I think this comes from The Old Hall being a true family-run business.

We’re shown to our room - The Cathedral Room - and offered complimentary coffee and cake on the terrace.

The House Bar at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: The Old Hall, Ely

The House Bar at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: The Old Hall, Ely - Credit: Archant

However tempting, our table was booked for dinner at 7:30pm and a sweet treat would have spoilt our appetites.

We also wanted time to settle and admire the view of Ely Cathedral from the comfort of our bright and spacious room.

In that time, we found ourselves admiring the decorative features where the combination of old vs new is balanced, and works well.

The Lakes Dining Room at The Old Hall, near Ely where diners can enjoy the restaurant's food. The ro

The Lakes Dining Room at The Old Hall, near Ely where diners can enjoy the restaurant's food. The room can also be booked for private parties. Pictures: Gary Rowsel Photography - Credit: Archant

For example, the large leaded-style windows and traditional brickwork around the window frames made us feel as though we were living in history.

Yet the new traditional-style furnishings helped us transition into the 21st century where the decor is fresh and modern.

To make the most of the last warm weather, we decided to enjoy a pre-dinner drink.

The lemon parfait dish from the menu at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: The Old Hall

The lemon parfait dish from the menu at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: The Old Hall - Credit: Archant

Each table and seating areas throughout have been thoughtfully placed at a safe distance from one another and, while apparently fully booked that night, we both felt very safe and at a comfortable distance away from other guests.

In fact, I don’t think we passed anyone outside or in the corridors.

For dinner, dishes on the menu were again a mix of the traditional with an updated feel to them. Much like our setting, which seemed very appropriate.

One of the lounge areas at The Old Hall where visitors can relax, or enjoy a drink. Pictures: Founta

One of the lounge areas at The Old Hall where visitors can relax, or enjoy a drink. Pictures: Fountain Photography. - Credit: Archant

I enjoyed the haddock fishcake with pea veloute and a poached egg to start. It looked colourful and pretty as a picture when it arrived.

The flavours of the fishcake were distinctive and fresh, the veloute smooth and velvety and the poached egg perfectly cooked.

My husband had the chilli chicken ballotine which he thoroughly enjoyed to start.

Eggs Florentine for breakfast at The Old Hall near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

Eggs Florentine for breakfast at The Old Hall near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

For our mains, we both had the pork fillet served with a smoked bacon rosti. We agreed it was the best rosti we had eaten in the UK.

I chose the lemon parfait for dessert and it was tart in flavour and refreshing. Ever the fan of retro classics, hubby went for the black forest gateau. Like our surroundings, the flavour was traditional with a modern look.

After dinner, we retired to one of the sitting areas for a digestif before retiring to bed.

Pork fillet with smoked bacon rosti from the restaurant of The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise

Pork fillet with smoked bacon rosti from the restaurant of The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

Thankfully the outside temperature had dropped significantly by then and we were able to have our first comfortable night’s sleep in days.

Breakfast was also very relaxed and for me it’s always a good sign when you’re served decent coffee to start.

I had the eggs florentine which were again perfectly poached and served on a fluffy English muffin. Hubby had ‘The Cambridgeshire’ breakfast, which was The Old Hall’s take on a full English. Both set us up for the day and as we walked around the grounds before heading home, I reflected on how far this beautiful setting has come along since the start of its restoration just short of 25 years ago.

Lemon parfait dessert served at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

Lemon parfait dessert served at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

And if you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, it is well worth the special treat.

Outside at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

Outside at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

Outside wedding area at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

Outside wedding area at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

The gardens at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

The gardens at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

Another view of The Cathedral Room at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

Another view of The Cathedral Room at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

The vast grounds of The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

The vast grounds of The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

Lakes at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

Lakes at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

The structured yet precise landscaping at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

The structured yet precise landscaping at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

The chicken ballotine started at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

The chicken ballotine started at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

View of Ely Cathedral from The Cathedral Room at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn

View of Ely Cathedral from The Cathedral Room at The Old Hall, near Ely. Pictures: Louise Hepburn - Credit: Archant

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter