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  • Sarah
  • September 24, 2019 11:53:50 AM
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News, reviews and opinions on everything to do with leisure, from hotels and holidays to food and fitness, by journalist and author Sarah Bridge

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Making the most of the great outdoors at the Bear of Rodborough, Stroud

After months of lockdown, a stay at the Bear of Rodborough hotel near Stroud, Gloucestershire was just the things to blow away the cobwebs. This 17th-century former coaching inn, part of the excellent Fullers-owned Cotswold Inns & Hotels chain, is located on not only one but two glorious commons – Rodborough Common and Minchinhampton Common […] The post Making the most of the great outdoors at the Bear of Rodborough, Stroud appeared first on...

After months of lockdown, a stay at the Bear of Rodborough hotel near Stroud, Gloucestershire was just the things to blow away the cobwebs. This 17th-century former coaching inn, part of the excellent Fullers-owned Cotswold Inns & Hotels chain, is located on not only one but two glorious commons – Rodborough Common and Minchinhampton Common – which sprawl across this part of southern England yielding footpaths and sweeping views across all sides.

beautiful countryside walks

There are beautiful countryside walks just outside the door of the Bear of Rodbourgh

bear of rodborough cows grazing

The view from the restaurant at the Bear of Rodborough hotel near Stroud

Cows graze across the common for much of the year and I went for an unheard of three walks during my overnight stay here – one when I arrived, one before dinner and one before breakfast the following day – as it was so lovely to be out and about in the fresh air.

Those who prefer to be outside in more of a sedentary position, howeer, will be able to get their fill of fresh air in the Bear of Rodborough’s large beer garden, which has a variety of seating from dining chairs and tables, cushioned sofas and even deckchairs so you can tailor your afternoon accordingly.

Bear of Rodborough beer garden hotel near Stroud

The Bear of Rodborough has a vast beer garden with seating ranging from chairs and tables to sofas and deckchairs

afternoon tea bear of rodborough

Our delicious afternoon tea for one (which was ample for two)

Covid-19 regulations mean that everyone arrives through the beer garden, is signed in and asked to use the hand sanitiser station before being seated at the well-spaced tables and chairs. I was surprised that it wasn’t table service but maybe that was due to the size of the beer garden, but people were happy to queue at the outside bar (socially-distanced, of course) and the service was for the most part pretty speedy.

__________________________________________________________________

To book directly with the hotel, go to: The Bear of Rodborough
To compare prices for the Bear of Rodborough click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to the Bear of Rodborough on TripAdvisor

________________________________________________________________________

We soaked up the sun in the garden and shared an excellent afternoon tea between us as well as enjoying a complimentary glass of Prosecco which the company was giving guests as a thank-you for visiting after lockdown which I thought was a nice touch. We finally getting round to checking in to our rooms and made our way to reception inside the hotel where we were greeted by not only the receptionist but a couple of life-sized stuffed bears.

The original Bear of Rodborough

The original Bear of Rodborough

One in the corner was anonymous, but the other held a sign declaring it to be the actual Bear of Rodborough, a Himalayan brown bear which had been shot by a solider in 1881 and had been used as a drinks holder before being bought by the pub. That solved the question of the pub name at least – and was possibly the oddest thing I found in a hotel reception – and we bid him and his furry friend farewell as we headed to our rooms.

A post-lockdown rush of bookings meant there were only two single rooms left, which was fine by me as it’s good to experience the whole range of rooms. Both singles were well-stocked with essentials such as kettle, tea and coffee and full-sized Molton Brown toiletries in the immaculate bathrooms and managed to pull of the trick of being both cosy and roomy at the same time, with colourful designs and old-fashioned windows.

 feature bedrooms at Bear of Rodborough with a four-poster bed

One of the feature bedrooms at Bear of Rodborough with a four-poster bed

hotel near Stroud bear of rodborough

Even the single bedrooms at the Bear of Rodborough were pleasant and well-equipped

There is no shortage of space at The Bear of Rodborough should you wish to tuck yourself away with a book, a drink or a mid-meal snack, from the sunny internal courtyard to bars and lounges downstairs, many of which boast original flagstone floors, open fires and traditional furnishings. It’s definitely worth a wander around as I kept finding pleasant little rooms I hadn’t noticed before.

the Bear of Rodborough

The sunny internal courtyard at the heart of the Bear of Rodborough

One room which was unmissable was the restaurant which makes the most of its location with large picture windows allowing diners to soak up the view. The menu was clearly-written and offered a good range of classic British dishes, such as English pea soup and ham hock terrine starters, to salmon, steak, lamb and fish and chips – although vegetarians might have wanted more choice than courgette bread and butter pudding or a garden salad.

restaurant at the Bear of Rodborough

The restaurant at the Bear of Rodborough

The menu is the same across all Cotswold Inns in case, like us, you are exploring several in the chain  in rapid succession, and meant we could see how much of a creative spin each chef is able to put on each dish. We had pea soup and marinated tiger prawns with grilled sourdough to start (the sauce with the prawns was particularly tasty), and sirloin steak and cannon of lamb with salsa verde and samphire as mains. They were all very capably cooked if not particularly excitingly, but it was decent pub fare and certainly the great views over the green commons made it into a very pleasant evening.

My fresh and tasty butter poached lemon sole

I was keen to immerse myself in those views so the next day before breakfast it was walk number three, this time due west following a lovely contour-hugging path which yielded stunning views and was a local favourite judging by the number of joggers and dog walkers.

Breakfast in the restaurant had the addition of grazing cows who were enjoying the grass surrounding the hotel, so it was another unique feature of this perfectly-located pub. Having enjoyed stays in several other Cotswold Inns pubs over the years – the Bay Tree at Burford being a particular favourite – I’m delighted that Fuller’s is investing in such a lovely collection of properties while still keeping their original charm and I couldn’t wait to explore the rest of the chain. So, next stop – the Hare and Hounds at Tetbury.

The Bear of Rodborough, Rodborough Common, Stroud GL5 5DE

Rooms at the Bear of Rodborough start from £89 for a double room B&B while the top luxury suite starts at £179 per night

To book directly with the hotel, go to: The Bear of Rodborough
To compare prices for the Bear of Rodborough click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to the Bear of Rodborough on TripAdvisor

If you are researching the best hotels in the Cotswolds then you want to also read my reviews of these great hotels:

Dormy House – so snug, you’ll never want to leave

‘From the moment I walked in the door and saw the cosy sofas and roaring fireplaces, to the friendly welcome at reception and then finally, arrived at The Snug, one of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, I knew I was in for a treat for my stay in the Cotswolds.’ Full review here

Dormy House Cotswolds

Barnsley House – a spa, a cinema, a garden, a beautiful place to stay

‘Within two minutes of arriving at Barnsley House hotel and spa in the Cotswolds I had completely fallen in love with it – and that’s before I’d even tried out the private cinema, outdoor hot tub or delicious food.’ Read my full review here

barnsley house stay

Cosy Cotswolds charm at the award-winning Painswick hotel

‘Those looking for a friendly, cosy break where you feel instantly at home, where staff will offer to pick you up from the local pubs after a country walk  and where you can fall asleep on the lounge sofa in front of the fire, The Painswick is perfect.’ Read my full review here 

 

The post Making the most of the great outdoors at the Bear of Rodborough, Stroud appeared first on ALadyofLeisure.


Relaxing in grand style at the Hare and Hounds hotel near Tetbury in the Cotswolds

Hotels in the Cotswolds are always a pleasure to discover and having stayed in a few places owned by Cotswold Inns pubs and hotels before – the Bay Tree and Lamb in Burford, the Manor House at Moreton-in-Marsh and most recently the Bear of Rodborough near Stroud – I had expected the Hare and Hounds […] The post Relaxing in grand style at the Hare and Hounds hotel near Tetbury in the Cotswolds appeared first on...

Hotels in the Cotswolds are always a pleasure to discover and having stayed in a few places owned by Cotswold Inns pubs and hotels before – the Bay Tree and Lamb in Burford, the Manor House at Moreton-in-Marsh and most recently the Bear of Rodborough near Stroud – I had expected the Hare and Hounds near Tetbury to be build upon similar lines: a traditional coaching inn or cosy pub. I did not expect it to be so grand-looking, more of a country house hotel with expansive gardens, a vast dining room with huge windows and sprawling grounds including individual cottages, conference facilities and a pub/restaurant just next door.

The Hare and Hounds hotel near Tetbury in the Cotswolds was more impressive than I had expected

Built in the 1860s by wealthy landowner Robert Staynor Holford, who also created the Westonbirt Arboreteum (just a few minutes’ drive away) this four-star hotel has 42 bedrooms, some in the main house and some in the separate coaching house – renovated during lockdown – and are furnished in an traditional yet boutique style, combining mullioned windows with splashes of colour, open fireplaces and interesting artwork.

hare and hounds hotel near Tetbury

One of the newly renovated rooms in the coaching house

hare and hounds hotel near tetbury

The hotel has a range of rooms in the main house and took advantage of lockdown to refurbish many of them

A large downstairs lounge runs the width of the hotel from front to back and contains an abundance of stylish sofas and chairs along with books and games to while away the afternoon but in good weather the gardens and outside courtyard beckon, perfect for morning coffee or afternoon tea. The hare and hounds theme – or at least the hounds part – runs through much of the hotel’s artwork and there are many dog-friendly rooms here if you wanted to bring your pet.

hare and hounds hotel near Tetbury

The interiors are decorated in a boutique hotel style with splashes of colour (and lots of doggy artwork)

This room led up to the Beaufort restaurant and was a great place for morning coffee

We arrived from the Hare and Hound’s sister hotel, the Bear of Rodborough near Stroud, and so were early enough to enjoy a whole afternoon in the sunshine, complete with a welcome prosecco and a cream tea – one was enough for two to share and not ruin the evening meal – and sitting in the summer sun with the Sunday newspapers and absolutely nothing else to do was a delight.

hare and hounds hotel near Tetbury gardens

The gardens at the back of the Hare and Hounds are perfect for relaxing in the sunshine (with no worries about social distancing). There’s also a paved courtyard which is ideal for afternoon tea

Our bedroom – once we finally made it upstairs – was also an unexpected treat, larger than I’d expected, and had a brand-new carpet thanks to the enforced lockdown break. This meant the en-suite bathroom door didn’t actually shut, but a quick word to reception and it was fixed in a matter of minutes. As well as double or twin beds, the room contained a large sofa, coffee table, writing desk and an abundance of tea and coffee-making facilities, so we were all set.

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Hare and Hounds
To compare prices for the Hare and Hounds click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Hare and Hounds hotel on TripAdvisor

hare and hounds hotel near Tetbury bedroom

The sofa and log fire feature in our large bedroom. The windows overlooked the hotel’s courtyard

Dinner in the Hare and Hounds’ own Beaufort restaurant was, like the hotel itself, grander than I’d expected, with subdued lighting and sparely-furnished, spaced-out tables (thanks to Covid) adding to the formal atmosphere. While it wasn’t one of those restaurants where you have to dress for dinner, most diners looked pretty smart – probably as a nice change to lockdown casuals – but the cheerful and chatty staff meant meant the mood was informal and friendly rather than stiff and snooty.

Beaufort restaurant Hare and Hounds hotel near Tetbury

This is just one end of the large dining room at the Hare and Hounds. The tables were sparsely laid out due to Covid but the moment you sat down someone would bring cutlery, napkins and so on and fully lay the table

The menu – standard across all the Cotswold Inns sites – was simple and classic British, with five or six options for each course including English pea soup, ham hock terrine, grilled sardines, followed by sirloin steak, poached lemon sole, roast lamb and Chateaubriand to share. By a quirk of hotel reviewing we had dined at the Hare and Hound’s sister hotel the Bear of Rodborough the previous day so could compare like-for-like dishes and the Hare and Hounds definitely had the edge, lifting the dishes to something above the menu’s description, full of flavour and quality which matched the impressive surroundings.

My cannon of lamb was excellent

Hare and Hounds near Tetbury review steak

The steak was also done to perfection

Breakfast the next day was equally good even though Covid restrictions meant that any coffee other than filter was temporarily off the menu. I could have done with a stronger brew after a night disrupted by late-night revellers in the courtyard just below our bedroom, who were letting off steam after lockdown until the early hours. I couldn’t really blame them though and it was a delight to wander round the gardens in the sunshine the next morning before heading off to explore Tetbury and the rest of the Cotswolds. Here’s hoping to the avoidance of a second lockdown meaning hotels like the Hare and Hounds can continue to welcome guests without interruption.

The Hare and Hounds hotel, Bath Rd, Westonbirt, Tetbury GL8 8QL

Rooms at the Hare & Hounds start from £125 for a double room B&B while the top luxury suite with hot tub starts at £255 per night

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Hare and Hounds
To compare prices for the Hare and Hounds click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Hare and Hounds hotel on TripAdvisor

If you are researching the best hotels in the Cotswolds then you want to also read my reviews of these great hotels:

Dormy House – so snug, you’ll never want to leave

‘From the moment I walked in the door and saw the cosy sofas and roaring fireplaces, to the friendly welcome at reception and then finally, arrived at The Snug, one of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, I knew I was in for a treat for my stay in the Cotswolds.’ Full review here

Dormy House Cotswolds

Barnsley House – a spa, a cinema, a garden, a beautiful place to stay

‘Within two minutes of arriving at Barnsley House hotel and spa in the Cotswolds I had completely fallen in love with it – and that’s before I’d even tried out the private cinema, outdoor hot tub or delicious food.’ Read my full review here

barnsley house stay

Cosy Cotswolds charm at the award-winning Painswick hotel

‘Those looking for a friendly, cosy break where you feel instantly at home, where staff will offer to pick you up from the local pubs after a country walk  and where you can fall asleep on the lounge sofa in front of the fire, The Painswick is perfect.’ Read my full review here 

The post Relaxing in grand style at the Hare and Hounds hotel near Tetbury in the Cotswolds appeared first on ALadyofLeisure.


An Historic House Hotels hat-trick with my stay at York luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall

It is impossible to walk around the grounds at York luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall and not take dozens of photos. While the front of the hotel is surprisingly close to the road, a quiet country lane just next to York racecourse, the rear of the hotel looks out over a beautiful lawn containing a stunning […] The post An Historic House Hotels hat-trick with my stay at York luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall appeared first on...

It is impossible to walk around the grounds at York luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall and not take dozens of photos. While the front of the hotel is surprisingly close to the road, a quiet country lane just next to York racecourse, the rear of the hotel looks out over a beautiful lawn containing a stunning 180-year old cedar tree, a ha-ha and a sunken fence according to the detailed hotel map (I’m not sure what the difference is) and further beyond, a separate park, lake and walled garden. Every step seemed to yield another stunning view to be snapped and I could have spent hours just wandering around in the sunshine.

Yorkshire luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall

Middlethorpe Hall luxury hotel is set in 20 acres of parkland

My stay at Middlethorpe Hall on the outskirt of the historic city of York was my third visit in the Historic House Hotels group, a collection of three hotels owned by the National Trust. The others, Bodysgallen hotel near Llandudno in North Wales, and Hartwell House hotel, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, had both been memorable stays and I was hoping that Middlethorpe Hall would be a similar experience.

Yorkshire luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall

The terrace at the rear of Middlethorpe Hall with its (socially-distanced) outdoor seating is a great place for morning coffee, afternoon tea or a pre-dinner cocktail

The ha-ha on the South Lawn thoughtfully has benches along its length so you can hide yourself away while enjoying the grounds

Thankfully I was not disappointed thanks to the beautiful setting, the interiors done in the style of traditional luxury, and above all the excellent welcome and hospitality shown by long-standing general manager Lionel Chatard (who moved to the UK from France for a few months and decades later, is still here and very much at home). His love for Middlethorpe Hall is apparent and it was delightful having a tour round the historic house with him, from the downstairs lounges to the portrait-lined oak staircases, the upstairs drawing room and the various suites with four-poster beds and rolltop baths.

Yorkshire luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall

The upstairs lounge at Middlethorpe Hall can be used for private groups – handy in Covid times

staircase Middlethorpe Hall

The beautifully-carved oak staircase (hotel pic)

The main lounge at Middlethorpe Hall

Built at the end of the 17th century by country gentleman Thomas Barlow, Middlethorpe Hall spent the next several hundred years as a family home, a girl’s boarding school, converted into flats and even, in the 1970s, a nightclub called Brummels. In 1980 the by then rather run-down Middlethorpe was bought by Historic House Hotels and lovingly restored to its former glories.

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Middlethorpe Hall
To compare prices for Middlethorpe Hall click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Middlethorpe Hall on TripAdvisor

Now a luxury hotel with 29 rooms and suites in the main house and adjacent courtyard, as well as a spa building across the road with a swimming pool and treatment rooms, Middlethorpe has reopened for business after the Covid shutdown and guests are delighted to be back.

Yorkshire luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall

The walled and kitchen gardens at Middlethorpe Hall are next to the sweeping South Lawn. There is also a croquet lawn and a helipad.

Coronavirus regulations are strictly observed at Middlethorpe Hall, with an automated temperate check on arrival, one-way system, sanitised pens and all the staff wearing masks. Our room was in the courtyard, just a few paces from the main building, and our first-floor suite was like a cosy little country cottage, with a lounge full of traditional furniture and furnishings, plus a double bedroom, walk-in closet and the unexpected luxury of two bathrooms which made getting dressed for dinner far less of a scramble than usual.

Yorkshire luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall

Our Courtyard suite had a lounge, two bathrooms, a double bedroom and a walk-in closet

The question of whether to pocket the room toiletries was answered by Lionel who said they were all ours thanks to Covid, and as well as putting them and the tea/coffee kit in little airport-style plastic bags, the hotel had thoughtfully provided a bag of masks and antibac gel and wipes as well. Even the TV remote control was wrapped in clingfilm which was a first for me in the ‘new normal’ but showed a great attention to detail. The towels in the bathrooms were some of the fluffiest I’ve ever encountered and were very smartly embroidered with group’s initials HHH.

Yorkshire luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall

The Courtyard rooms are just a few paces from the main building

masks Middlethorpe

All the staff wear masks at Middlethorpe Hall

The dining room set-up was a little bare thanks to Covid

We left our cosy rooms to explore the grounds – and take dozens of pictures – and enjoyed wandering through the well-kept kitchen garden which had been laid out with walkways, seats and pleasant views before heading to the terrace for a pre-dinner cocktail. We so enjoyed soaking up the views that it was only when the waiters arrived bearing the menus for dinner that we realised the time and dashed back to make ourselves presentable.

Dinner was in one of three high-ceiling’d but fairly small oak-panelled dining rooms and will appeal to guests who prefer a more formal dining experience. The rooms themselves are fairly austere, with little colour to brighten up the brown of the walls and the furniture, and due to the new restrictions all the tables were bare apart from the white tablecloth and a few small items so it felt as if you’d arrived after the main event when everything had been cleared away.

At both dinner and breakfast there was quite a wait before the cutlery, drinks and bread and so on arrived, and with the absence of any music and with the waiters wearing masks it felt a little unrelaxing. It’s hard during Covid-19 but hopefully Middlethorpe will be able to add some of the charm we found throughout the rest of our stay to the meal times.

English pea velouté with cheese scones

Thankfully the food was very good – and formally presented with each course arriving under steel domes – and we began with an excellent English pea velouté with cheese scones and equally good salmon with dressed crab. My main of sea bream, prawn broccoli tasted as good as it looked and the aged fillet of Waterford farm beef was pronounced excellent. The desserts were very pretty and super-sweet – strawberry tart with elderflower and white chocolate, and an apricot delice with Champagne and chamomile – and on the way out we had a lovely chat with our table neighbours who were long-time regulars (always good sign) and delighted to be back at Middlethorpe.

My starter of salmon with dressed crab, red curry and carrot

My starter of salmon with dressed crab, red curry and carrot

My main course of sea bream with prawn dumpling, wakame and broccoli was delicious

Next morning I was up and out early before breakfast to explore the grounds even further, finding the lake at the end of the estate, home to a family of ducks. The gardener had thoughtfully cut a path through the long grass so you can wander at will and I managed to get happily lost in the woodland trying to get back to the hotel. Unfortunately the grounds back straight onto the busy A64 which means there is a constant sound of traffic, but closer to the hotel the noise is more of a distant hum. For nature lovers there is an informative leaflet from the National Trust detailing the gardens and trees of interest at Middlethorpe Hall with the main deodar cedar tree, planted 180 years ago, the fruit trees in the walled garden and birches, oaks and a variety of others all listed.

I had a lovely stroll around the grounds the next morning before breakfast

Breakfast was a complicated affair; our waiter told us we couldn’t order coffee when we sat down as he would be only taking one order for the whole meal which seemed rather inflexible (we managed to persuade him to relent and bring us hot drinks and juice while we decided what to order for our cooked breakfast) and several items were missing or had to be asked for twice, but I think that can be put down to Covid and staff only just coming back from furlough and having to cope with a lot of new ways of doing things. The full English breakfast with Swaledale sausage was full of flavour though.

Covid regulations are strictly observed at Middlethorpe Hall

After breakfast we had a lovely tour round the rest of the hotel with the charming Lionel, from the Lady Mary Suite to the upstairs parlour, including possibly the smallest lift I’ve ever seen (it only fits one person) and enjoyed a good gossip about the various celebrities who have stayed at Middlethorpe Hall over the years, including many famous jockeys and trainers when Ascot was moved to York Racecourse – the Queen’s carriage passed the hotel on the way to the course each day.

Thanks to Covid regulations the spa was yet to reopen when I was staying at Middlethorpe Hall, but Lionel kindly showed me around the cute little cottage across the road where the spa is situated. For such a small building on the outside, it’s like a Tardis on the inside, with a good-sized swimming pool and various treatments rooms on two floors. Due to these changing times it’s always good to phone in advance to check what is available and Lionel said one of the hardest things to manage these days is knowing exactly what is allowed and what it the safest way to proceed.

The indoor swimming pool in the spa at Middlethorpe Hall

However Middlethorpe Hall is doing a great job under his expert eye to maintain the relaxed atmosphere of a country house hotel while providing a safe environment for guests and it was pleasure to finally complete my hat-trick of Historic House Hotels.

Middlethorpe Hall hotel and spa, Bishopthorpe Rd, York YO23 2GB

Main building rooms start at £159 per night for a single, deluxe double/twin £299, four poster bedroom £429, The Lady Mary Suite £439 and The Duke of York Suite £539

Courtyard rooms start at £149 per night for a single, standard double/twin £219, superior double/twin £259 and Junior Suite £319

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Middlethorpe Hall
To compare prices for Middlethorpe Hall click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Middlethorpe Hall on TripAdvisor

Middlethorpe Hall is a member of Pride of Britain Hotels, a group of 50 of the some of the best luxury hotels in the UK, and Historic House Hotels, three hotels owned by the National Trust. To read my reviews of other HHH hotels, go to:

Hartwell House hotel and spa, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Hartwell House Buckinghamshire

Hartwell House is an elegant 17th century stately home on the outskirts of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire which has welcome everyone from deposed French King Louis XVIII to US president Bill Clinton

Bodysgallen Hotel and spa, Llandudno, North Wales

Bodysgallen dates back from the 13th century and has spectacular views across North Wales to Conwy from its roof tower

The post An Historic House Hotels hat-trick with my stay at York luxury hotel Middlethorpe Hall appeared first on ALadyofLeisure.


A perfect roast dinner and stay at Feversham Arms in the North York Moors

I had been told that the Sunday roast at Feversham Arms hotel and spa in the North York Moors was not to be missed and my informant had been bang on the money. It was pronounced: ‘A ten out of ten, the best I’ve ever eaten’ by my dining companion, who isn’t given to false […] The post A perfect roast dinner and stay at Feversham Arms in the North York Moors appeared first on...

I had been told that the Sunday roast at Feversham Arms hotel and spa in the North York Moors was not to be missed and my informant had been bang on the money. It was pronounced: ‘A ten out of ten, the best I’ve ever eaten’ by my dining companion, who isn’t given to false praise, and I had to agree.

Feversham Arms is in the centre of the historic market town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire

stay at Feversham Arms in the North York Moors

The outdoor pool is a central feature at Feversham Arms hotel and spa

We had arrived at Feversham Arms in the heart of the pretty town of Helmsley, deep in the North York Moors national park, at exactly 1pm and went straight into the restaurant. Thanks to lockdown this was my first Sunday roast out for months and as Feversham Arms had only just reintroduced Sunday lunch after a break of five years, it was a happy reunion all round. The team under executive chef Adam Jackson had prepared the roast beef to perfection and all the trimmings including roast potatoes, green beans, cauliflower cheese and – of course – Yorkshire puddings –  were top notch too.

stay at Feversham Arms in the North York Moors

Our roast beef was done to perfection and came with delicious gravy, cauliflower cheese, green beans, roast potatoes and of course, a traditional Yorkshire pudding

stay at Feversham Arms in the North York Moors

The smart and modern restaurant at Feversham Arms

Our waiter and sommelier was the snappily-dressed Alex, who combined Yorkshire charm with speedy efficiency and even produced an excellent off-menu Primitivo red wine which was instantly put on my ‘to buy when I get home’ list and all in all it was a great start to our stay.

The friendly welcome at reception was enough to make us feel at home even before we had made it to our room and it felt like a great place to spend a couple of nights, whatever the weather might throw at us.

In the end in true British summertime tradition, we had both torrential rain and balmy sunshine and Feversham Arms was a great place to enjoy (or endure) either: when the sun shone we could sunbathe by the outdoor pool and when it rained we read books and played games in either the bar downstairs or our impressive spa suite with its separate lounge and balcony.

There are 33 bedrooms at Feversham Arms, 21 of which are suites, including spa suites (like ours) and poolside suites where you literally stepped out of your room to the pool area. I preferred our spa suite (number 33) which had a substantial balcony overlooking the pool area which was ideal for morning coffee or sunset cocktails without having to move far from our room.

spa suite at Feversham Arms

We had a spa suite at Feversham Arms, which had a separate bedroom and lounge divided by sliding doors

stay at Feversham Arms in the north york moors

The spacious ensuite bathroom in our spa suite at Feversham Arms

stay at Feversham Arms in the North York Moors

Our lounge contained a large sofa, TV, desk and tea and coffee-making facilities

Our room was equipped with everything you could want from a hotel stay, from two TVs, a desk, sofa, large bathroom with a walk-in shower and deep but fast-filling bath, coffee and tea-making equipment (although no fridge) and sliding doors to separate the bedroom and lounge if you wanted to.

Unlike some hotel rooms where you just put your head down at night and never spent any time in it during the day, this one with its French windows onto the balcony felt like you could stay there all day and feel like you were really on holiday, and indeed the hotel has increased its room service options during Covid-19 so guests can spend their stay in splendid isolation if they so wished.

Having expected Feversham Arms to also be in isolation in the Yorkshire countryside (as many fellow Pride of Britain hotels are) I was pleasantly surprised to find it in the middle of Helsmsley, where a 30 second walk through the churchyard opposite led to to its central market square, a popular meeting point for bikers and day-trippers at weekends.

As well as a wide variety of local shops, mainly delis and cafes, there are also the ruins of Helsmley Castle, which dates from Norman times. Those who prefer longer walks would enjoy the five miles or so to the 11th-century Rievaulx Abbey which has now re-opened after lockdown – the path to which goes from almost outside Feversham Arms, although you can of course also drive there if you’re short on time or energy.

stay at Feversham Arms in the north york moors

An information guide to the historic town of Helmsley

Having indulged ourselves at lunchtime with the Sunday roast – the whole thing was very good value at £20 for the main course, or £25 for two courses and £35 for all three, if we’d had room (we didn’t) – we picnicked on our balcony that evening which meant we could enjoy another blowout for breakfast the following day.

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Feversham Arms and Verbena Spa
To compare prices for Feversham Arms click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Feversham Arms on TripAdvisor

stay at Feversham Arms in the north york moors

The view of the pool from our balcony

Covid-19 regs have put paid to breakfast buffets for the time being, but that’s no bad thing as we could sit back and enjoy the delivery of excellent coffee, home-made granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt, and smashed avocado with sourdough bread and poached eggs. Other options included a Full English, smoked haddock and Eggs Benedict so almost everything you could want from a hotel breakfast was covered, and the restaurant itself was light and airy with bright colours, quirky lighting and high ceilings making it a pleasant and relaxing dining space without being too formal as in some luxury hotels.

Feversham Arms swimming pool

The view of our balcony (top right) from the swimming pool

Rain in the morning gave way to sunshine in the afternoon and guests emerged to enjoy a swim in the pool – maximum of eight people currently allowed at one time, but you don’t have to book for the pool, just the hot tub – or sunbathe or enjoy a drink or two. It felt like a proper holiday stay and will no doubt be much in demand this summer with all the uncertainly over overseas travel. There is also a Verbena spa which is gradually reopening after lockdown and offers a range of health and beauty treatments – do check with the hotel when you book though, as the availability of various treatments will change as the restrictions are lifted.

There are lots of places around the pool area where you can sunbathe or enjoy a cocktail or two. The poolside suites literally open onto the poolside so you don’t have to walk far, but I preferred being slightly distanced from the action

hot tub Feversham Arms

You had to book the hot tub at the Feversham Arms (although it was empty in the morning so I just jumped in)

Dinner that evening was again excellent quality, from the tomato and burrata starter to the elegant lamb rump main course, although we weren’t quite sure that the chocolate, cherry and pistachio dessert warranted its £12 price tag. The indefatigable Alex – resplendent in a checked suit – made sure everything ran like clockwork and one of  Feversham Arms strengths was that there were staff everywhere, so you felt very well looked after.

Feversham Arms

A picture-perfect lamb rump main course

reception lobby Feversham Arms

The reception lobby at Feversham Arms

If you didn’t want to lounge around the pool all day long then Feversham Arms is a great base to explore the North York Moors, and we had a great time exploring the coast from Whitby to Scarborough and admiring the beautiful and rugged Yorkshire landscape which was spectacular in the summer sunshine. Feversham Arms is possibly the 30th hotel in the excellent Pride of Britain Hotels group which I’ve reviewed (links to others below) and, despite not being as grand or historic as some of its other members, is worthy of its place in the group thanks to its excellent customer service, immaculate room and of course, that Sunday roast.

Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa, High Street, Helmsley, Yorkshire YO62 5AG

Rooms start from £120 B&B in a standard double room, with the spa and poolside suites priced from £320 per room B&B and £410 DB&B. Use of the Verbena spa heat facilities, outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi are included in all room packages. Check with the hotel what Covid restrictions there are due to Covid-19.

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Feversham Arms and Verbena Spa
To compare prices for Feversham Arms click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Feversham Arms on TripAdvisor

Feversham Arms is a member of Pride of Britain Hotels group, a collection of 50 of the best hotels in the UK. Other Pride of Britain Hotels I’ve received include:

The Headland Hotel, Newquay, Cornwall- click here to read my review of this luxury hotel 

The Headland hotel in Newquay, Cornwall

Maison Talbooth, Dedham, Essex – click here to read my review of this luxury hotel

Maison Talbooth is in the heart of Constable country

Did you like this review of Feversham Arms? Then Pin it!

 

The post A perfect roast dinner and stay at Feversham Arms in the North York Moors appeared first on ALadyofLeisure.


Luxury after lockdown: a Covid secure stay at Fawsley Hall hotel, Northants

After months in lockdown I was as keen to get back to doing hotel reviews as the hotels were to open, but there was an element of caution too. What would a hotel stay in the time of Covid-19 look like? Would it be like the scene in ET where everyone is dressed in hazmat suits […] The post Luxury after lockdown: a Covid secure stay at Fawsley Hall hotel, Northants appeared first on...

After months in lockdown I was as keen to get back to doing hotel reviews as the hotels were to open, but there was an element of caution too. What would a hotel stay in the time of Covid-19 look like? Would it be like the scene in ET where everyone is dressed in hazmat suits and there’s plastic sheeting all over the furniture? This didn’t seem like my idea of a relaxing stay, but the other extreme, where people mixed freely, pretending that coronavirus never happened, didn’t seem like a great idea either.

fawlsey hall luxury hotel

The four-star hotel and spa Fawsley Hall is set within 2,000 of Northamptonshire parkland

Thankfully my first hotel stay in months was at Hand Picked Hotel’s flagship hotel Fawsley Hall hotel and spa in Northamptonshire near Daventry. This grand old county house hotel – and we’re talking at least 600 years old here – has withstood all manner of wars, plagues and famines and turned out to be perfectly capable of dealing with coronavirus as well.

fawsley hall exterior

The hotel has 60 bedrooms, including 11 ‘feature suites’ and massive Great Hall dating back hundreds of years

Set in acres of beautiful green Midlands countryside down a quiet country lane, Fawsley Hall is in a bubble at the best of times – like the best country house hotels – and made the most of its ability to create a safe and secure environment.

anti-bac at Fawlsey Hall

The anti-bac station outside the entrance to Fawsley Hall was unmissable

Unmissable by the front door was an anti-bac station – the first of literally dozens which were all about the site – and the moment we stepped into the foyer we were temperature-checked (receptionist Shannon politely wielding the gun) and then asked five Covid-related questions before being allowed in the hotel and shown to our rooms around the one-way system.

I would be temperature-checked at the spa too, and asked to wear a mask, and my bedroom had a sign confirming that it had been cleaned and sanitised.

I had to also book a swim time at the spa, which was a first – Fawsley Hall is allowing six people into the pool at a time, two per lane – and we booked not only times for dinner but breakfast too. Everywhere we went we saw anti-bac stations, and waiters constantly using them, and all in all it felt extremely safe.

Thankfully all these measures – vital as they are – did in no way detract from what is a really lovely and traditional hotel. Built by the prestigious Knightly family, who came over with William the Conqueror and whose descendants were knighted by various Kings of England, Fawsley Hall has hosted all manner of monarchs including Elizabeth I and Charles I.

My earlier fears about a too-antiseptic environment were swept aside on entering the Great Hall, and never has a hall been so aptly named. The ceiling is possibly one of the highest hotel lounge ceilings in Britain and still contains some original beams from its construction in 1537 as well as the original Tudor fireplace, where you can see the coat of arms of Richard I and the 26 knights who accompanied him on his first crusade.

Great Hall at Fawsley Hall hotel

The aptly-named Great Hall at Fawsley Hall hotel

These days the Hall is a popular place for afternoon tea and every socially-distanced sofa was occupied by friends and relatives enjoying a long-awaited catch up over scones and clotted cream, under the watchful eye of Tudor portraits.

The Great Hall is a popular spot for afternoon teas and at Christmastime there’s a massive Christmas tree in the hall.

It felt very fitting that I had bought with me Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy to read and in fact, my bedroom (Louisa Mary Bowater, aka room 42) was the perfect place to read it in – a vast, grand but relaxing space with not only a huge bed but a sofa, huge bay windows and a walk-in closet area so you could keep the main area pristine.

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Fawsley Hall hotel and spa
To compare prices for Fawsley Hall click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Fawsley Hall on TripAdvisor

My lovely room, Louisa Mary Bowater, was on the first floor and was vast, with huge windows (there’s a set of bay windows and a dining table which I couldn’t fit in the picture) and an air of tradition and opulence

Bay windows with original wooden shutters opened out to views of carefully planted gardens and the fields and lake beyond and the whole room exuded opulence and calm – perfect for Covid times. I had a peek into another room, Sir Francis Wolsingham, which was darker and more traditional in feel – four-poster bed and a lot more oak – so the rooms do vary in style and for me, room 42 was just perfect.

bathroom at Fawsley Hall

My en-suite was also of a considerable size, with free-standing bath, separate walk-in shower and lots of fluffy towels and complimentary toiletries

robe Fawsley Hall

My individual robe-and-slipper-and-lotions bundle

The bathroom was immaculate, with a roll-top bath, walk in rainfall shower, tonnes of large fluffy towels and toiletries and great views across the field to the parish church beyond. It was like going back in time to hundreds of years before coronavirus was even heard of.

My booked swim and spa treatments called so, as requested, I donned the robe and slippers in my room and padded across to the spa which is a minute’s walk from the main hotel building. There I was greeted by another temperature check, more anti-bac and asked to wear a mask during my back, neck and shoulders massage – another Covid first for me.

The indoor pool at Fawsley Hall

The indoor pool at Fawsley Hall.Up to six people are allowed to swim at any one time and there’s also a gym and outside hydrotherapy pool.

The treatment by the cheerful, visor-wearing Jodie was excellent – far more thorough than I was expecting – and I was completely unknotted by the time I headed to the pool for my first swim in months. Only two other people were swimming at the same time – we exchanged happy smiles at the novelty of it all – and while the sauna and steam room were closed, the large outdoor hydrotherapy pool was open and two people allowed at a time. I was so busy chatting about how lovely it was to be back in a hotel again to a fellow bather that Jodie had to come and fetch me for my pedicure. An hour of gossip (the masks no barrier to chat) and foot therapy later, me and my transformed feet were heading back to the hotel to change for dinner.

dining room at Fawsley Hall.

The dining room at Fawsley Hall. This picture was taken pre-Covid and there are far fewer tables here now due to social distancing.

Dinner was in one of several smaller rooms and probably the only room I thought could have done with a touch of improvement: it was very dark, not especially packed with atmosphere, and a few thoughtful design touches to give it a touch of life would work well here – maybe some quiet music or some better lighting. There was just one other table dining that night so social-distancing wasn’t a problem and it was more of a novelty than an annoyance to discover what Covid measures the hotel had put in place.

menu Fawsley Hall

The menu for dinner at Fawsley Hall. Menus as well as newspapers and magazines were also available on the hotel’s app

There were paper menus, no salt and pepper on the table and our waiter, Allen, apologised but said he wasn’t allowed to pour the wine or water. The menu, as in other Hand Picked Hotels I’ve stayed in, including New Hall and Brandshatch, was clearly written and a good range of modern British cuisine, and we started with Caesar salad and British charcuturie.

My excellent baked sea trout

Our starter of British charcuterie

I then had baked sea trout, brown shrimp, fine beans, parsley and caper butter, while my dining companion had 10oz Herfordshire beef sirloin with chunky chips. There was also an extra course thrown in with eggs confit. All were very well done indeed, the mains being particularly tasty. However the first time ever – I’m probably out of practice – I couldn’t even look at the dessert menu because I was so full, and indeed I had to go for a walk around the grounds after the meal before I was genuinely scared I was going to go ‘pop’. How lockdown has changed me! The upside was that it was a beautiful evening and I had the hotel and grounds to myself which was a delight for me but a shame for the hotel – many people are still understandably cautious about venturing out.

My morning walk took me along the quiet country lanes next to the hotel and over the fields along the Knightly Way footpath

My disturbed night’s sleep was certainly a result of over-eating and not a fault with the immense and comfortable bed, but it did mean that I was determined to walk off a few more calories before breakfast. On the dot of 7.30am I headed out for a the perfect Sunday morning walk; first down the winding lane to be greeted by dozens of grazing sheep, then across the fields along the well-marked Knightly Way, and then back across the neighbouring field to the hotel which contained the charming little church of St Mary the Virgin.

St Mary the Virgin Fawsley

Sheep safely grazing next to the lovely historic parish church of St Mary the Virgin which is the final resting place of many of Fawsley Hall’s former residents

The sign showing the Knightly Way footpath

A popular place for weddings – although you’d have to persuade the sheep to go someone else for a few weeks beforehand I’d suggest – the little parish church is the final resting place of many of the Knightley family, but sadly not of its copper roof which made headlines when it was stolen in 2015 – an appeal raised £100,000 to replace it. It’s well worth a visit though and is full of fascinating facts such as the bells date from 1440 and are possibly the oldest set of still ringable bells in the country.

After a palate-cleansing yoghurt and granola breakfast (there were many cooked options too but no buffet thanks to Covid regulations) it was time to head off to North Yorkshire to see how another hotel was coping with life after lockdown – but it couldn’t have been a better or nicer place to break my reviewing fast.

Fawsley Hall hotel and spa, Fawsley, Northamptonshire, NN1 3BA

Rooms start from £270 for a classic room and from £508 in a Master Suite.

To book directly with the hotel, go to: Fawsley Hall hotel and spa
To compare prices for Fawsley Hall click on: Trivago – HotelsCombined – Booking.com
To read more reviews and get the latest prices click here to go to Fawsley Hall on TripAdvisor

Hand Picked Hotels is a collection of 19 luxury hotels in the UK and the Channel Islands. Other Hand Picked Hotels reviewed by ALadyofLeisure.com are:

New Hall hotel and spa, Birmingham 

New Hall historic hotel in Birmingham with a spa

The historic New Hall hotel has its very own moat

Brandshatch hotel and spa, Kent

Brands Hatch Place review

It’s named after the motor racing circuit but Brandshatch hotel is a relaxing stay in the slow lane

The post Luxury after lockdown: a Covid secure stay at Fawsley Hall hotel, Northants appeared first on ALadyofLeisure.


Temperature checks and TV remotes in cling-film: staying in a hotel during Covid 19

Staying in a hotel during Covid 19 is now a possibility and after four months of lockdown, to say that I was excited about getting back to hotel reviewing for ALadyofLeisure.com would be an understatement. But I was also more than a little nervous. It was hard to know what to expect. Would everything be […] The post Temperature checks and TV remotes in cling-film: staying in a hotel during Covid 19 appeared first on...

Staying in a hotel during Covid 19 is now a possibility and after four months of lockdown, to say that I was excited about getting back to hotel reviewing for ALadyofLeisure.com would be an understatement. But I was also more than a little nervous. It was hard to know what to expect. Would everything be covered in plastic sheeting and guest made to wear hazmat suits?

Many hotels offered sanitised pens when signing in

I had a vague idea that gloves and masks would be a major part of the stay and that guests would be confined to rooms, with meals delivered on trays to bedroom doors, like on the cruise ships which, as coronavirus spread, turned into floating petri dishes for the virus. Or would it be business as usual, with people enjoying cocktails on the terrace while the pianist lulled everyone into a little fantasy bubble where coronavirus didn’t exist and the only worry was how much you were going to be charged for that third martini?

That didn’t sound very relaxing either, when the risk was you’d infect everyone in the local shops the moment you got back. But I was keen to support the hospitality industry which, frankly, is in desperate need of support after being shut for weeks – ironically, through some of the best weather we’ve had for a while – and I was also very, very curious.

So, as if to make up for lost time, over a hectic 12 days I stayed in six different hotels for one or two nights each, to find out exactly what you can expect if you stay in a hotel in the time of Covid 19. The hotels kind enough to host me were: Fawsley Hall in Northamptonshire; Feversham Arms in Helmsley, North Yorkshire; Middlethorpe Hall in York; the Bear of Rodborough near Stroud; the Hare and Hounds near Tetbury (both of those are part of Fullers-owned Cotswold Inns; and Tewkesbury Park in Gloucestershire – full individual reviews of each hotel to follow shortly. Three have swimming pools and spas, one has a golf course, most have a lot of outside space and one even has two stuffed bears to greet you at reception (no prizes for guessing which one). And each visit was full of surprises…

Many hotels had a one-way system in place

Hotels in the time of Covid

Every hotel was different in how it has approached life post-lockdown but what they did have in common is a) taking Covid prevention super-seriously by vastly increased cleaning regimes and b) being delighted to be open once again for business. As for the details though, each approach is as unique as the hotels themselves.

To temperature or not?

Of the six hotels I stayed in, only two – Fawsley Hall and Middlethorpe Hall – temperature-checked guests on arrival, although Fawsley Hall was the strictest, with everyone at both the hotel itself and the separate spa building being individually checked with a temperature gun. Middlethorpe had a sign-posted fixed iPod-like temperature check on a stand just inside the door, but it was on more of a do-it-yourself basis. The others had decided against.

How about the anti-bac on arrival?

hand sanitisation station hotel

You couldn’t miss the hand sanitisation station right outside the entrance to Fawsley Hall

Again, Fawsley and Middlethorpe did well on this front, with large, unmissable anti-bac stations placed outside the front door and it was a similar story at the Hare and Hounds. Tewkesbury Park had two foot-operated anti-bac stations inside, again unmissable for guests, while the Bear of Rodborough had anti-bac on its garden (currently only) entrance and a member of staff making sure people used it.

Feversham Arms had anti-bac at reception but it was on the other side to the door and not easy to spot, especially when people were at the reception desk, and it wasn’t used by everyone who walked in. It was a similar story at its restaurant entrance and group general manager Ingo told me that he wanted guests to feel safe and welcome but not bombarded with notices and instructions.

Once you were inside, there were many anti-bac stations throughout all the hotels ranging from little hand pumps to fixed automatic pumps. As for cleaning, some hotels had signs declaring that the room had been specially cleaned and sealed until the guest opened it. Many hotels across the UK are not only tripling their usual cleaning rotas but using special disinfecting sprays and machines, plus some are even quarantining each room for a night after each stay.

Hotel bedrooms had signs saying that they had been specially sanitised

To mask, or not to mask?

The rules changed just a few days ago, after my hotel visits, and so I would assume that more masks are being worn by both guests and staff. Of the six hotels I visited, Middlethorpe Hall had the most obvious mask presence, being worn by all its staff including cleaning staff and waiting staff. Tewksbury waiting staff wore a mixture of visors or mask but not reception staff. Others were a mixed bag, with waiting staff on the whole not wearing masks but cleaning staff tending to do so, as well as gloves and aprons. At Fawsley Hall, the only place where I had a spa treatment (a massage and a pedicure), I was asked to wear a mask at at times and the therapist wore a visor. Irrespective of masks being worn or not, social distancing was observed wherever possible.

staying in a hotel during Covid 19

Masks, anti-bac and wipes at Middlethorpe Hall

Are these shampoos really all mine?

Trying to decide whether it is OK to pocket the miniature shampoos has always been a hotel room dilemma but one which decided for me by Middlethorpe’s charming general manager Lionel who declared ‘take them away afterwards – it’s all for you and will be thrown away otherwise.’

As well as the toiletries which were packed in airport-style see through bags, the hotel had thoughtfully provided a bag with a couple of single-use masks and anti-bac wipes. The two Cotswolds Inn hotels had full-sized toiletries which were (I assume) disinfected afterwards while the sumptuous array of smellies provided in my rooms at Fawsley Hall, Feversham Arms and Tewkesbury Park all went home with me.

What about cushions, throws and pillows?

This was really a mixed bag. Some hotels had removed all cushions from rooms and public areas, while others were festooned with them. There were throws on some beds I stayed in and none on others, while pillows were in abundance as usual – no reduction in numbers at all. Spa slippers and flip flops were in plastic bags but they usually came like that in pre-Covid times, all those moons ago… And while most rooms still had all the various tea and coffee-making paraphenalia, only one (Middlethorpe) had placed them all in a little airport-style ziplock bag.

The separated machines at Tewkesbury Park

Heading off to the spa

Some hotel pools insisted you book for a swim while others just limited the number allowed in at any one time, and some treatments are still limited (pedicures are allowed, eyebrow shaping is not). Some gyms had dividers between machines – such as Tewkesbury, pictured, while others didn’t.

Has no-one laid the table for dinner?

This was another mixed bag. Some hotels had switched to paper serviettes while others were full linen. Some were laid for meals as usual – with cutlery, salt and pepper and so on – while others were almost completely bare apart from a tablecloth, which made you feel as if you had arrived at the end of a wedding when everything had been cleared away.

The ‘laid’ dining room table at Middlethorpe Hall

A happy medium was struck by the two Cotswolds Inns hotels which had dispensed with tablecloths but kept a lit tea light, plant and salt and pepper on the table which looked welcoming, and then once you’d sat down staff arrived with cutlery wrapped in a serviette.

At Middlethorpe you weren’t allowed to touch the pepper pot (which was wielded instead by the waiter) and salt arrived in a little open glass pot. In others you were allowed your own salt and pepper if you requested it.

All had moved to single use paper printed menus but varied on whether they replaced it during the meal or left it on the table, while Tewkesbury Park had all the menus on an app but helpfully handed out paper menus if requested. Most hotels seem to have taken some tables away so there was more distancing, and seats as well as tables were thoroughly cleaned once a party had left.

The dining room at Feversham Arms

Sorry, who’s pouring, again?

Restaurant etiquette can be a bit of a minefield at the best of times but now there’s even more opportunity for confusion. At Fawsley Hall, our waiter said he wasn’t allowed to pour the water or the wine, but could only place it on the table (which is always fine with me). Next stop, Feversham Arms, and the efficient and friendly waiting staff led by the ebullient Alex not only poured wine and water but did the whole pour-a-bit, wait-a-bit ritual. The rest were also a mixed bag of protocols. It was all very confusing. But quite fun seeing who did what.

No turn down? Or room information? Some things I missed.

Stricken as I am with FOMO, I hate to miss out on any aspect of a hotel stay. The first thing I do on entering a hotel room – OK, the second thing, after taking dozens of photos before I destroy the pristine calm with my exploding suitcase – is to seek out the information book and devour the information within. From restaurant opening times to spa treatments, historical information, walking routes and ha-has, croquet lawns and dovecotes, I want to know all about it. Now due to Covid-19, this fount of all wisdom has been taken away. Haven’t we all suffered enough?!

The ‘new normal’ in hotels – the anti-bacterial cleaning fluid use at Tewkesbury Park

A turn-down was also out of the question. Some hotels did have a sign saying that you could ask for your room to be refreshed but the usual country house hotel experience when someone comes in and draws the curtains, tidies up a bit and makes your bed look more inviting when you’re at dinner has been ditched during Covid. I know people who hate a turn down and some (like me) who love it so it will not be universally missed.

Room service is also a bit of a divider – some love it, some never go near it – but the good thing was that all the hotels had upped their flexibility with in-room dining so if you didn’t want to eat in the restaurant you could choose from the same menu and dine in-room at no extra cost.

And the quirkiest aspect of Covid I’ve found so far? The remote control in my room at Middlethorpe Hall was wrapped in clingfilm. I’ve no idea if that’s a better idea than sanitising it afterwards but it certainly showed someone was thinking of absolutely everything.

If you have ventured out to one of Britain’s hotels yet? Let me know of your own experiences in the comments!

It’s a fine day for a socially-distanced wedding… the events space at the Hare and Hounds

The post Temperature checks and TV remotes in cling-film: staying in a hotel during Covid 19 appeared first on ALadyofLeisure.


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