As you enter Newmarket, there’s no mistaking who – or should I say what – rules this town.

From the straight road in past the racecourse, to the life-sized statues dotted around this pretty town, it’s clear to see that horses are Newmarket's raison d’etre.

There are paths that are dedicated to horses, much the same as other town’s have dedicated cycle lanes, and hundreds of horses are put through their paces on the training grounds right in the centre of the town every morning.

There are stables, stable yards, horse-named pubs, equine shops, there’s even a horse racing museum.

Basingstoke Gazette: Bedford Lodge Hotel

But what happens out of racing season? We took a break to the the historic home of British horse racing just before the start of the 2023 season, to see what else Newmarket has to offer.

We checked in to Bedford Lodge Hotel, a short walk from the town. This large hotel, with grand three acre grounds and large car park, was originally a Georgian hunting lodge built for the Sixth Duke of Bedford in the 18th century and was converted into a hotel in the 1940s.

It’s modern, yet still retains its country house charm. It exudes history and grandness, but with luxury and comfort, plus it’s arguably the biggest and best hotel in the town.

And horse racing is woven into this privately-owned hotel as much as it is part of the town’s way of life – there are paddocks next door, some rooms overlook the neighbouring training stables, and the hotel’s walls are adorned with locally-inspired horse-y artwork as well as a colourful collection of racing silks.

There’s even a cuddly horse waiting for us when we get to our room.

Basingstoke Gazette: Bedford Lodge Hotel

Bedford Lodge is a large hotel, with 80 bedrooms, ranging from standard to suites, as well as a separate annex called The Mews in which whole groups can book, ideal for weddings or large functions.

The hotel has a two AA rosette restaurant that includes a traditional bar menu, a la carte, and afternoon teas. It’s sectioned bar and restaurant allows you a variety of occasions to be taking place at once, if you want to you can relax by the open fire and enjoy a laid back drink in the bar, or eat in the fine dining restaurant (we had the steak, and thoroughly recommend) - it’s all here.

Basingstoke Gazette: Kimberley Barber and Michelle Procter enjoy a glass of fizz in Newmarket

The hotel also boasts a health and fitness club with gym, indoor swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi.

It also has a ‘5 bubble’ rated spa, in a separate building adjacent to the hotel. This dedicated relaxation space has a rooftop hot tub, hydrotherapy pool, steam room, sauna, and experiential showers.

It also offers an extensive spa menu including massage, nails, Mii tanning and advanced facial treatments, and more.

The spa is extra, but we take up the Moonlight Bubbles offer - £60 for three-hours access with a glass of Champagne. It’s a great place to relax, quite possibly one of the best spas in the east - perhaps even south - of England. The staff are friendly, the atmosphere is chilled, and the facilities are top class. Well worth paying the entrance fee.

A short trip into Newmarket sees us stop in one of its cafes for a spot of afternoon tea, before wandering around the shops. It’s not huge but there’s a selection of shops along its High Street, and in its Guineas Shopping Centre, as well as a pick of bars, restaurants and cafes.

The next morning, we are treated to the sight of hundreds of horses on the training ground. Newmarket has been associated with horses and racing since King James arrived in 1605 and declared Newmarket the second capital of England. And whether you are a horse racing lover or not, seeing the horses parading past is quite a spectacle and a wonderful way to round off a relaxing trip to a historic town.

Rooms start from £123 per night. To make a booking contact the hotel team on 01638 663175 or Go to

Basingstoke Gazette: Some of the horses on the training ground