To get the obvious out of the way: it’s a bishop’s hat. A Mitre is a bishop’s hat. And it’s pronounced ‘might-er’ not ‘meet-er’ or ‘mit-re.’ ‘Might-er.’ Now you can show off at check-in and a future version of you will be very, very grateful at a pub quiz one day.

This Mitre is also a hotel. Not just any hotel but a hotel that dates back to 1665, when Charles II needed a place to put up visitors to Hampton Court – you know, the ones who weren’t important enough to bunk down in the big house. And maybe any important visitors who Charles didn’t want to stay over.

Hampton Court is literally across the road. Intriguingly, there are rumours of tunnels leading there from the hotel – perhaps to be used for the wives of important visitors who caught the royal eye. Charles was famously a bit of a lad: you don’t get nicknamed The Merry Monarch for puritanism.

I can’t vouch for conditions in the Stuart era but the modern Mitre is an absolute delight. It’s one of those gorgeous old buildings that serves double duty as a time machine; a maze of corridors and staircases leading into the past. Your fellow guests might well be wearing periwigs and frocked coats. The Mitre is part of the Signet Collection and frankly I can't wait to visit the others. 

The Mitre Hampton Court

Delightful touches abound: the glass of mulled wine when you check in. The complimentary bottle of Kings Ginger spirit in the bedroom. If you don’t maintain a semblance of discipline, The Mitre will have you feeling pretty squiffy before you’ve unpacked your toothbrush. Best not to mention The Mute Swan, an extremely pleasant pub one door down.

Accommodation ranges from cosy classic room to the spectacular King Henry VIII suite, which includes a four-poster bed, a roll top bath and views over the Thames. Not included: wives, six or otherwise. You’ll have to supply those yourself. All the rooms are decorated and named individually – Christopher Wren, the Playwright's Den and so on. (Incidentally, Christopher Wren’s old house is right round the corner. Only check it out if you’re not the envious type or you happen to live in a castle.)

We stayed in the Royal Room, a beautiful, elegant space that made me feel an ineffable sense of calm the moment I walked in. Maybe it was all the old hardbacks on the shelves, spanning romantic classics to the golden age of detective fiction to Boys’ Own Adventures. Why watch TV when you can read ​​Biggles Goes To War? (Don’t worry, there’s also a TV; they aren’t savages.) 

The Mitre Hampton Court

Speaking of old books, ensure you pay a visit to the library. Like most libraries, there are lots of old books; unlike most libraries there is also a jukebox. No murdered lord, however, nor a moustached Belgian detective addressing a finely attired group of suspects. Maybe next time.

Guests are provided with complimentary day passes to Hampton Court. (Yet another delightful touch and one that doesn’t involve booze.) Once you’ve perused the rooms and escaped the maze, wander along the Thames and decide which of the riverside houses you will one day own. Then go and empty your bank account at one of the umpteen antique shops just down the road.

By now you’ll have worked up quite an appetite. The Mitre offers a few options. The Coppernose Cafe is one door down from the pub and will see you right for brunch, lunch or coffee. (What with the hotel-pub-cafe combination, you could happily inhabit this brief stretch of pavement for the rest of your life.) For dinner, I recommend you head downstairs to…

1665 Brasserie

The Mitre Hampton Court

Unsurprisingly, 1665 Brasserie is a lovely place to eat. An olive green dining rotunda overlooking the river, candles on the green marble tables, street lights glittering on the water outside the window. There's a real sense of warmth and cosiness – you shouldn't rock up in slippers but you'll feel like you're wearing them regardless.

The food is as comforting as the surroundings. Teriyaki popcorn cauliflower bites (splendidly moreish, house taramasalata with crispy bread, a delightfully refreshing chicken liver parfait. For the main course, pork belly with black pudding and smoked mashed potato is a rich warm hug of a dish; savour every mouthful and don’t you dare consider the calorie count. Even better, opt for the Beef Wellington for two, provided the vegetarianism of your partner doesn’t preclude this. (Try not to resent her too much if it does.)

The Mitre Hampton Court

At least her stupid diet didn’t prevent us from sharing the apple tarte Tatin for pudding. There’s so much apple it must count as two of your five a day. It would be healthy, were it not for the perfectly baked pastry and the accompanying ice cream and butterscotch. Hey ho – channel Henry VIII and tuck in.

Two more points of praise. The supper menu is printed on one enormous card headed with an Oscar Wilde quote: “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.” And during our meal, the manager brought out a birthday cake for the adjacent table. Going by their surprised delight, the cake hadn't been prearranged. Just an act of spontaneous generosity to make the evening that bit more special.

But what would you expect? The Mitre is a special place. 

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Hampton Ct Rd, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9BN; The Mitre