Frazzled parents in need of some adult indulgence, we arrived in our room at Tuddenham Mill to an ambient soundtrack playing on the Bose stereo and the crackle of an open fire. The message: relax.
And so we did. Warmed by sips of sloe gin from the carafe beside the bed, we luxuriated in our lovely loft; malingering in Missoni bathrobes, peering through the telescope at the dusky water meadow below, sinking into the feather-plumped oversized bed, nibbling on fruit and fudge.
But dinner beckoned. So we made our way to the restaurant in the main mill building to join the other couples here for a romantic escape, and discovered the design showpiece of this stylish hotel – the original water wheel, enclosed in glass and illuminated by changing colours.
Owners Sarah and Mark Harrod have made it their business to search out interesting properties in good locations to add to their Agellus Hotels portfolio. Tuddenham, near Newmarket, takes their project a step further. A working mill until the 1940s, it sits in 12 acres, with a millstream and that water meadow.
The Harrods' renovation has been sympathetic, though they haven't compromised on style. Sarah has combined Italian furniture, lighting by Philippe Starck and bright decor with brown and grey accents in luxurious fabrics to complement the original features with contemporary flair. No wonder the romantic getaway guide Mr & Mrs Smith accounts for almost half this hotel's business.
There are 15 rooms, including three doubles in the main building. Across the car park, in two barn-style structures, are eight ground-floor Water Meadow and Mill Stream Rooms, each with an outside space and views, and four Loft Rooms. Huge walk-in showers and baths big enough for two are standard in the bathrooms and the toiletries are by Jo Malone. All rooms are stocked with sloe gin, soft drinks, homemade biscuits or fudge, fresh juice, water, tea, fresh coffee and milk, while the lofts also feature wine and fruit.
The food and drink
Scottish head chef Gordon McNeill sources ingredients locally where possible, although he won't compromise on his Stornaway black pudding. Complemented by an excellent wine list, his creative seasonal menus feature locally smoked products and venison from the nearby Denham estate. Indulge in one of his speciality assiettes, such as the seven-hour slow-roast shoulder of rare-breed lamb served with a root vegetable shepherd's pie, confit lamb shank and Adnams beer gravy. Three courses and coffee, without wine, costs around £40 per person.
There's shopping in Cambridge, horse-racing at Newmarket and Ely is nearby. Thetford Forest is a popular haunt of walkers and cyclists.
One Water Meadow Room was designed for wheelchair users. There is access to the bar in the main building by ramp, where the restaurant menu can be served. Children are catered for with beanbag beds and babysitting. Dogs welcome.
Rooms start at £195 per night, including a (superb) breakfast.
Tuddenham Mill, High Street, Tuddenham, Suffolk IP28 6SQ (01638 713552; tuddenhammill.co.uk).