Ettington Park Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon
Guests get their first glimpse of the Hotel as they approach this spectacular neo-Gothic mansion down a long driveway amongst mature trees and manicured lawns. The exterior facade of the hotel is absolutely stunning with a collection of ancient towers and turrets pointing skywards, colourful brickwork and classic arched windows.
This magnificent mansion Hotel looks like something created for a romantic modern film set, but these grounds have a long history, dating back as far as the Domesday Book. There are remains of medieval settlements, including a 12th century church which helps to reinforce the sense of antiquity and history. The Hotel itself is a beautifully decorated Victorian Gothic manor house with flamboyant plaster work, genuine antiques and heraldic shields in profusion.
This Hotel not only boasts spectacular exterior architecture, having been built from six different types of coloured Cotswold stone but it is also furnished with fine paintings and decorations that trace its centuries of tradition and heritage. But this is a country house where history meets the modern world and is the ideal setting for a weekend break, a romantic wedding venue and is an awesome meeting and conference venue.
It is the only AA 4 Red Star hotel in Stratford-Upon-Avon having built an excellent reputation for its fine food and wines, over many years. It is the perfect location from which to explore the Cotswolds and Stratford Upon Avon. The Hotel is located just a ten minute drive from the birthplace of William Shakespeare and a few miles from the start of The Cotswold Way. For the well – heeled there is also a helicopter pad available!
I received a very warm welcome from the reception staff, who were very helpful and friendly as I entered the Hotel. I was very pleased to see several bicycles and pairs of Wellington Boots which had been left for guests to use whilst enjoying the stunning 40 acres of grounds. With mature woodlands, a valley and river to explore, I was sure they are much appreciated and well used. If they are lucky enough, guests may even spot some of the local wildlife including deer. The views from the terrace were wonderful, sheep grazing in the fields and glimpses of the undulating Cotswold Hills in the distance. A very picturesque aspect to enjoy while sitting on the open terrace.
The Hotel is reputed to be one of the most haunted Hotels in the country. Exterior shots were filmed at the Hotel for a classic horror movie called, The Haunting in 1963. I was not staying over for the night, but I am happy to say, I did not encounter any ghosts or other paranormal events during my brief visit. I was given a short tour of the Hotel and grounds during which I was shown the swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room and some of the 48 bedrooms.
Each of the bedrooms has its own character. There were romantic four poster beds, large family rooms and suites. The bedrooms retained much of the buildings history and character but all have modern facilities and appliances including flat screen TVs, complimentary WiFi and many have a media hub to connect devices to a TV.
Classic furniture, rich fabrics, period features and a modern touch all helps to add a sprinkling of grandeur and sophistication to this historic country house. I was also charmed at the custom of leaving a little cuddly deer outside of your room if you do not wish to be disturbed. Children young and a little older, would love it!
My wife and I arrived twenty minutes early for our evening meal reservation and were shown directly to the Great Drawing room where we were invited to consider the A la carte menu, whilst we were served refreshing drinks and delightful Canapes. I enjoyed a local Hook Norton Dark Ale and my wife enjoyed a glass of Argentinian Malbec.
The Great Drawing Room features an amazing ornate painted, gilded decorated ceiling, wall tapestries, beautiful oil paintings and ceiling to ground high sash windows with extensive views of the grounds and chapel. There was also a grand piano, although no one was `tinkling the ivories`at the time I was there!
I was informed that it is in the Great Drawing Room and Bar where the spirit of Ettington really lives! A whole range of services are offered in this magnificent room. Morning coffee, afternoon teas, evening cocktails and late night drinks plus an excellent informal dining menu, all of which are provided throughout the day and evening.
Ettington Park should be proud of its staff. Everyone I came into contact with provided an excellent, professional service. The staff appeared to really care about the hotel, the service they were providing and take great pride in working there. I had several pleasant and interesting conversations with waiting staff and management and all appeared happy and practised in their roles.
The small Bar which leads off from the Great Drawing Room looked like a relaxing place to have a pre -dinner drink or a nightcap. As we ordered the restaurant manager asked us if there were any dietary requirements or allergies.
After pre-dinner drinks my wife and I were shown to our table in the Oak Room. It is an impressive panelled restaurant finished in a baronial style with a fabulous eighteenth-century rococo ceiling and family crests.
The restaurant boasts a 2 AA Rosette award for culinary excellence and uses only the finest of local ingredients. Chef David Guest offers his own version of modern British cuisine, serving a collection of seasonal and regional dishes made with creativity and served with a touch of flair.
The dining room looked a little dark when I first sat down but after a while my eyes adjusted and I was able to appreciate the oak panels decorated with numerous shields and the long ceiling to floor sash curtains. There was a fine view out to the church and grounds through the large window.
Amuse Bouche: A very refreshing, creamy apple & black pudding appetizer served in a small fine china cup and saucer.
I chose the Cornish Sea Bass as a starter. The citrus, dill and fennel risotto which it was served upon, tasted wonderful. The usually clear consommé was a small covering of green cucumber juice.
The Star Starter was the Quail egg & black pudding scotch egg. The egg was wrapped in a black pudding with a tasty crispy shell, accompanied with pork belly, poached apple and cauliflower puree. A simply wonderful starter beautifully presented. It looked fantastic and tasted excellent.
The Lamb Rump was superbly cooked medium rare, just as I like it! It tasted fantastic and there was quite a lot of it too. I loved the small delicate cabbage parcel which was full of flavours and small tasty additions as were the Jerusalem Artichokes, pea puree and rosemary juse. Placed delicately on top of the dish was a fine strip of pancetta, beautifully crispy and slightly salty.
My wife chose the Venison Saddle which was served with Butternut & Pearl Barley Risotto, a small baby carrot, smoked king oyster mushroom, blackcurrant & juniper jus. The venison was very tasty and beautifully cooked. The mushroom had an unusual quality and texture and was an excellent accompaniment to the dish.
The waiting staff in the restaurant were excellent, friendly and professional but never intrusive. It was a really special dining experience in a beautiful dining room with lots of character, history and atmosphere. We both loved it!
For desserts we were both self – indulgent and extravagant. I chose the Chocolate slice, salted caramel mousse, hay-maker beer ice cream. I loved it! My wife went for the Treacle Tart with Cornish Clotted Cream. Needless to say the desserts, hit the spot!
The service was superb, it was attentive but not rushed. The whole meal was beautifully presented, the service perfect and all of the food tasted delicious.
The wine we chose to go our meals was recommended to us by the restaurant manager Ramy, who provided professional service and interesting conversation between courses. I was told it would be particularly suited with the Lamb Rump Venison.
Vivanco Rioja Crianza 2014 was a fine wine bursting with red berries, mild hints of smoke, toasted vanilla, and spice to balance the fruits. A well-structured, meaty wine with mature tannins. It was a fine choice!
After the meal we left the Oak Dining room and enjoyed coffee in the Great Drawing Room. It appeared many other diners had the same idea. It really is a delightful area in which to sit and relax in amongst a range of comfortable armchairs and sofas.
Cornish sea bass – Citrus, dill and fennel risotto
Scottish scallops – Pork belly, poached apple, cauliflower purée, quail and black pudding scotch egg
Venison saddle – Butternut and pearl barley risotto, baby carrot, smoked king oyster mushroom, blackcurrant and juniper jus
Lamb rump – Jerusalem artichoke, pea purée, cabbage parcel, pancetta crisp, rosemary jus
The Chocolate slice, salted caramel mousse, hay-maker beer ice cream
Treacle Tart with Cornish Clotted Cream
Ettington Park Hotel is a real delight and the Oak Restaurant a real discovery. The Hotel is a stunning building in which to visit for a celebratory meal, a romantic weekend away, a wonderful wedding venue or conference venue. The bedrooms I viewed were all beautifully furnished with most having picturesque views across a stunning landscape of parkland, woodland and the Cotswold hills in the distance.
My visit to Ettington Park Hotel was one I shall remember for a long time. The meals were first class and the waiting staff could not have done anything more to make my visit such a wonderful experience. If you are planning to visit Stratford Upon Avon, touring the Cotswolds or planning a conference or wedding, check out this superb Hotel, you will not be disappointed.
Ettington Park Hotel, Warwickshire.
Telephone: 01789 450123 or 0845 072 7454
Disclosure: My stay was courtesy of Ettington Park Hotel. The views and comments expressed are as usual my own.