Hello everyone and welcome to the first in a series of hotel reviews for first-night stays and wedding facilities. Now, those of you who know me may be scratching their heads and wondering why I’m reviewing hotel wedding facilities when I’m a fan of homespun weddings. Well, I’ve hand picked some extra special hotels to show you, hotels that are flexible, accommodating and brimming with vintage glamour and elegance.
So let me start with a bang – the Bingham Hotel in Richmond-upon-Thames is the pinnacle of opulence and amazing service for the discerning bride and groom. It’s a boutique hotel in a Grade II listed building on the river front with amazing views and a beautiful garden terrace for photographs. I had the immense pleasure of staying in the hotel and reviewing the wedding facilities last night. I have to admit, I was somewhat dubious about the idea of a hotel wedding – I’m quite a hands on bride, but talking to the events team and walking around the amazing rooms and halls my mind was very quickly changed…
Weddings at the Bingham
Weddings and civil ceremonies at the Bingham can accommodate up to 99 guests and 150 reception guests. Couples exchange their vows in the elegant Garden Rooms – a series of three interconnecting spaces that can be hired individually for intimate weddings. The rooms can also be merged into one large venue for parties of 99 seated or receptions of up to 150 guests. The Garden Rooms open onto a terrace providing romantic views over the gardens that meet the riverbank, and have a private entrance from both the river and the road. Each banqueting space features a state-of-the-art sound system, mood lighting and air conditioning.
Now, personally, the reason I’ve never been a fan of hotel weddings is often I find the décor of the building too imposing. A heavily patterned carpet is impossible to cover up and makes styling incredibly difficult. However, with the Garden Rooms, the colour scheme is neutral and calm. It’s pretty much a blank canvas, and the exceptionally organised events team can be extremely flexible when it comes to request. The opulent surroundings and Georgian architecture means that it’s the perfect setting for a vintage glamorous affair. I can see crystals, David Austen-style roses, the whole nine yards. The furniture in the venue has a modern twist but the flexibility of the events team means that most things are possible.
What really struck me about weddings at the Bingham is how efficient and knowledgeable the in-house events team is. I happen to be a very creative, homespun kind of bride. But not everyone has the time or energy for big DIY projects or to coordinate a blank canvas venue. It’s not an easy task and having an events team to plan every detail alongside you from start to finish, as well as implementing the styling and running of the day. The communication at the Bingham is top notch. A large proportion of the staff have been there long term and are well versed on working together to execute an incredible event. Couples are taken care of from the moment they step into the hotel to the second they check out, after a leisurely breakfast the next day. With around 100 weddings per year, one would assume that the events team might start to think of weddings as routine, but talking to them about how they help couples plan their big day, the passion I really value in suppliers was so evident. This is a start-to-finish experience and customer service is paramount.
Quite often, couples will hire out the hotel exclusively, including the rooms, which starts from £32,000 but small, intimate weddings can be held from just £5000, so the Bingham really is accessible to any budget. One of the major draws to the Bingham, in my opinion is…
Oh my God the food. All I can say is “wow”. This venue is definitely one for foodies. Wedding parties can dine on the exquisitely prepared modern British cuisine by Shay Cooper. Now, I had the immense pleasure of sampling the food at the Bingham last night, and let me tell you, it’s more than just eating dinner. I’m not a food person. I think of eating as something I do between working. Eating at the Bingham last night made me wish we’d put food higher up on the priority list in our own wedding budget. First of all, it’s not just food. It’s art. I know that sounds pretentious, but for anyone doubting me, go and eat there. Seriously.
The restaurant currently boasts 3AA rosettes, a score of 7 in the Good Food Guide, and a place in the Top 100 in The Sunday Times Restaurant Awards. The food is so beautifully presented for a start, it looks almost too good to eat. I’m a very fussy eater and was convinced there’d be nothing there for me, but one spoonful of my starter, a creamy, delicious Jerusalem artichoke soup, and I was in heaven. This wasn’t just eating, it was a dining experience fit for royalty. The service was just wonderful, with friendly and expert waiting staff, I was one step short of bursting into the kitchen to hug the chef. Probably not appropriate, but really, the food was that good. I could write a whole article on the Jerusalem artichoke soup alone. They serve it in an empty bowl with a filling of delicious treats, including smooth and rich goats cheese, and pour the soup around it at the table. It made for the most incredible combination of vivid flavours and fantastic textures. And let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried hibiscus ice cream. Heaven on a plate.
People must have thought I was a bit weird because I kept turning to John (my fiancé and the other half of Under the Vintage Veil – the tech half) and squealing “oh my God can you imagine being served this at a wedding? Wouldn’t it be the most amazing wedding? Have you ever eaten food like this at a wedding? I want to go to a wedding here!”
After, what can only be described as an epic luxury dining experience, and a couple of expertly mixed champagne cocktails, we were both happily stuffed and sleepy – which leads me to…
I was lucky enough to stay in the Baudelaire room, the luxury bedroom that’s typically used as a bridal / honeymoon suite / first night stay. This was the initial purpose of my review (I got a bit sidetracked by the amazing wedding facilities and heavenly food) so I was really curious to see how the rooms were laid out. The room is beautifully presented with an elegant, modern design. The bed is so comfortable it’s actually a bit like sleeping on a cloud. It sounds corny but it’s so true. I don’t think I’ve ever slept in a four poster bed in my life and I wasn’t disappointed. I think it was possibly the best night’s sleep ever.
The room has an ensuite bathroom with an incredibly relaxing whirlpool bath and a walk in shower, but it’s not just the bridal suite that’s amazing. Each of the 15 individually designed guest rooms is named after a French poet, and every detail is carefully considered from the retro telephones, L’Occitane toiletries and orchids found in every bedroom.
I spoke to real bride Alice, who stayed at the Bingham after her civil partnership in Richmond. Her experience was every bit as luxurious and incredible as mine.
“I had a civil partnership in May last year at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park but we used the Bingham as our recommended place to stay for family and friends the night before and after the wedding. We absolutely loved the Bingham; the boutique nature made the service feel very personal and friendly.”
“All the rooms are different- meaning guests felt really special too. We asked if we could reserve all the rooms and were given a preferential rate for this. The hotel staff were very helpful; they organised our wedding car for us, accommodated our request for a high stool for the make up artist and as we don’t drink, organised non-alcoholic cocktails for us. I loved the riverside view and in the morning after we tied the knot we walked along the river and watched the ducks, before tucking in to our amazing breakfast. An absolutely gorgeous place to stay on your wedding night!”
There were also the unusually considerate touches that wouldn’t have even occurred to me to expect. For example, after dinner, we returned to our room to find the lights dimmed, romantic jazz playing softly on the radio, the corners of the beds turned down and slippers ready on each side of the bed. For a couple sharing their first wedded night together, I can’t imagine anything more pleasant to walk into. John and I don’t get to spend much alone time together these days, and the little touches made the stay all the more special.
So in short, I would 100% recommend the Bingham from weddings to a romantic dinner for two. I had a spectacular night and would highly suggest that, if you’re in Richmond, even if you’re not planning a wedding, you treat yourself to the exquisite dining experience. Here’s a little video I made during my stay. I’m not an expert videographer (obviously) but I hope it gives you a little taster. Enjoy!
Review based on a PR sample.