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Birmingham, England: Country Hotel

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Who knew this major manufacturing town would have a luxury country-house hotel in a 12th-century manor (reputedly the oldest in England)? In a leafy suburb of the city, Caroline Parkes has created such a worthy destination at New Hall—ancestral home of Edwin, Earl of Mercia, who was executed by William the Conqueror in 1071. Offering 60 beautifully furnished bedrooms appointed with fourposters and lovely antiques, it serves as an excellent touring base for nearby Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Cotswolds.

Guests can stroll through 26 acres of manicured grounds, past a private walled rose garden, down a vaulted yew tree allée, or along the moat, where carp and trout swim among the water lilies. In the 16th-century oak-paneled dining room—filled with coats of arms of the families who owned and cherished the manor for some 800 years—New Hall's award-winning chef, Simon Malin, serves innovative continental cuisine (the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon at breakfast are sublime).

With a nine-hole, par-three golf course, an all-weather floodlit tennis court, an archery lawn, and a brand-new spa, New Hall, in west-central England, is worth the detour. Walmley Road, Royal Sutton Coldfield, England B76 1QX; 44-121-378-2442; fax 44-121-378-4637.

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