Enjoying weekends away is a passion of mine but when I discover a hidden gem that offers a unique experience it really excites me. I first heard about The Jockey Club Rooms through a friend of mine who explained that whilst the venue first and foremost operates as a private members Club, they also offer accommodation and dining to guests and corporate clients alike.
The Jockey Club rooms located in the centre of the high street in Newmarket has a fascinating history dating back to the 18th century. The Jockey Club Rooms have been at the heart of British racing for over 250 years. A body of influence and a source of sustained investment in racing over a period spanning four centuries, The Jockey Club as an organisation is known worldwide, there are records to show that at least six Prime Ministers were also members of The Jockey Club and for much of the Club’s existence many of its members divided their time between Parliament and conducting racing’s affairs from The Rooms.
Whilst located in the very heart of a busy Newmarket high street, the club set back behind a gated entrance has always retained a degree of mystique. It is very easy to walk or drive past without ever appreciating or even realising what the club has to offer. To me it feels at the moment as a bit of a best kept secret as the venue has not become overly commercialised and remains under most people’s radar.
The Jockey Club Chambers offer 18 luxurious country house style ensuite bedrooms with bespoke interior design. My double room boasted a huge bathroom with large glass windows overlooking the impeccable lawns and walled garden, letting in an abundance of natural light. All rooms offer flat screen TV’s, wifi and tea and coffee making facilities. The Chambers are very quiet and peaceful, you feel like you are a world away from the busy high street as you are set so far back from the road. The rooms also overlook Newmarket’s oldest racehorse trainers’ stable yard so the views are wonderful.
If you are looking for a prolonged stay, an alternative to the chambers, the Townhouse situated a stones throw away on Newmarket’s High Street, has three luxurious ensuite bedrooms upstairs as well as a kitchen, living room and dining room downstairs.
The Jockey club has five fine reception rooms which are all available to hire for weddings, conferencing and events. Each magnificent reception room has been elegantly appointed with antique furniture, Venetian chandeliers, ornate working fireplaces and large picture windows. Walking around the club it feels incredibly opulent, with equestrian artwork, historic trophies and racing memorabilia everywhere you look. Inside The Jockey Club you are surrounded by so much history, it feels like you are also within a museum.
Before experiencing an evening of fine dining, my guest and I enjoyed a guided tour of the club, starting in the coffee room which was originally built as a coffee house for members in 1752. Recently refurbished the coffee room now offers state of the art conference and events capabilities. The Members Dining room, (where we would enjoy the most delicious breakfast the following morning) overlooks the perfectly manicured lawn and has beautiful portraits of Oaks and Derby winning horses and jockeys adorn the walls.
Designed to feel like a home from home, the card room also overlooks the lawn and terrace and is furnished with plush armchairs and antique card tables. It is a nice place to relax and unwind. Steeped in history where many important decisions would have been made, the Committee Room with its large windows and polished table can today be used for dining and stand up events.
The Morning room is the central hub within the club and where we enjoyed some pre-dinner drinks. It has large French doors which can open out onto the terrace in good weather. It is the most impressive of all the rooms and is home to The Jockey Clubs renowned art collection. With crystal chandeliers and a central fireplace, it really is a breath-taking room, there was so much to look at. I found the room to be incredibly impressive. In contrast to many uber modern hotels, which I do enjoy staying in, this felt completely different, almost as if I was going back in time to a bygone era.
We also had a guided tour around the jockey club art collection, which I would highly recommend, it is simply fascinating. Tours can be arranged at the club which can include, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, and offer something quite special for a racing or equine enthusiast.
During my stay my guest and I were lucky enough to partake in a fine dining evening, experiencing seven delicious courses prepared by their talented team of chefs. A different wine or cocktail was provided to perfectly compliment each course. The presentation and flavour of each course was truly exceptional, it really was something very memorable.
The breakfast in the morning was equally as divine, I opted for Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, (one of my personal favourites) and hands down it was the best tasting breakfast I have ever experienced!
As a horse owner and enthusiast as part of my Jockey Club rooms experience I opted for a private tour of the National Stud. The National Stud is the only working stud farm in the UK which opens its doors to the public and offers a unique behind the scenes look at a working thoroughbred farm. As a visitor you have the opportunity to meet some famous equine racing champions and I personally loved meeting some of the new foals. It was absolutely fascinating as well as educational finding out how the stud operates and learning just how much some of the stallions are worth. Public tours of the stud run twice daily from February Half-Term until the end of October. Private tours and large group tours are available by advance booking.
Newmarket is regarded as the ‘HQ’ of British horseracing and 1 in 3 people in Newmarket are employed in the world of racing. There are 70 training yards, 80 stud farms, 70 miles of training gallops (owned and managed by the Jockey Club Estates), numerous blacksmiths and vets as well as Gibson Saddlers – the famous saddlers and silk makers to the Queen. At any one time there are around 2,000 thoroughbreds in training in Newmarket and it’s a wonderful sight when, as a mere passer-by, you encounter them being put through their paces against the beautiful pastoral landscape early in the morning. Whilst known as the ‘Sport of Kings’ horseracing’s appeal has always been broad. It is the second most popular spectator sport in Britain after football and over the centuries has become a British sporting institution much loved and followed by people from all walks of life. Newmarket also offers plentiful shopping opportunities and with the clubs location in the heart of the high street an array of shops, restaurants and bars are just a short walk away.
My stay at the Jockey Club Rooms was a unique and captivating experience, offering something very different from your average overnight stay at a mainstream or boutique hotel. If you are looking for something memorable and enjoy indulging in some horse racing history along the way, The Jockey Club Rooms are an absolute must.
The Jockey Club Rooms
101 High Street