As someone who, before the current health crisis, regularly visited and reviewed some of the best Hotels across the country, I was very pleased to see the government ease lockdown restrictions and allow Hotels to open for visitors.
But as Hotels across the country begin to reopen what kind of experience should I expect and is it going to be safe during these uncertain times? As you would expect, all major hotel chains have now introduced wide-ranging new cleaning policies in bedrooms, restaurants, and other public spaces of their Hotels.
The aim has been to reduce as much person-to-person contact in and around the Hotel by erecting clear signage, removing or simply re-arranging furniture and installing hand-sanitizing stations throughout to constantly remind guests of the social distancing protocols and reassure them of the measures which have been put in place to ensure their safety at all times.
It was with these thoughts in mind that my wife and I decided to visit Mallory Court Hotel and Spa, located just two miles outside of Leamington Spa in the picturesque Warwickshire countryside.
More commonly referred to as simply Leamington, the attractive Warwickshire town has some of the best Regency architecture in the country and had been promoting the fine qualities of its medicinal waters since the 18th century until much of its closure during the late twentieth century.
Mallory Court Hotel and Spa, just two miles from the original Leamington Pump Room is continuing the tradition of providing luxury spa treatments for locals and travellers alike with the contemporary and modern, `Elan Spa` opened in April 2017.
I drove directly up to the front door of this impressive looking hotel to be met by one of the Hotel staff who after introducing himself and hoping we had experienced a trouble free journey asked if he could quickly give us a temperature screening, which took seconds. I then went and parked the car as our luggage was taken into the Hotel lobby.
The overwhelming first impression I got was of a large English Country Manor House. The hotel boasts 43 bedrooms across its 10-acre site, but I never got the sense that this was a large hotel.
When guests walk through the doors of Mallory Court Hotel, they can feel reassured that their health and safety are the Hotels` number one priority. There is a commitment, To provide the best service in all areas of cleanliness, hygiene, and social distancing.
The receptionist explained to us that guests must wear a face covering in all public areas of the hotel, when walking through the hotel or at Reception but once seated at a table in the lounge, restaurant or in the bar, guests were able to remove their face covering. There were protective screens at both Hotel & Spa reception and Hotel staff wore either a face mask or face shield.
There has been a major focus on social-distancing, cleaning of high-touch surface areas and the introduction of contact-free transactions by card, rather than cash, to prevent unnecessary contact. Guests were encouraged to walk on one side of the corridor as they moved around the Hotel to help prevent guests and staff crossing paths and avoid small groups causing congestion at entrance or exits.
Floor markers ensured that guests stay 2m apart at the reception desk, where I was told they have increased the frequency of cleaning, requiring all surface areas to be cleaned with viricidal disinfectant regularly. I noticed frequent signage displayed throughout the Hotel & Spa informing guests of any actions they may need to take.
I was staying in `Hidcote’, a Manor House Master room in the East Wing of this superb country house hotel. The room was decorated in a traditional style befitting a house of this age and status. The room included a king size bed, a safe, Nespresso machine, slippers, USB charger point, complimentary Wi-Fi, digital TV with Freeview, desk & comfortable chairs, telephone, bathrobes & ESPA toiletries.
Our room was a corner room, so it had large windows on two sides offering fantastic views across the hotel and herb gardens. It was a large room with equally spacious en-suite facilities including a welcome bath, table & chairs, a walk-in shower, and separate toilet room.
There was also evidence of some attention to detail with several bottles of spring water being provided in the fridge along with a small container of milk. It is sometimes the small touches which are most appreciated! The room was perfect, and we had a perfectly peaceful night’s sleep. Iron, ironing board, hairdryer had all be taken from the room, but we were told to ring reception if any of the items were needed during our stay. There was obviously no turn down service offered any longer!
The room was simply beautiful, more the feel of a quintessential English country house, than a large sized hotel room. Our room key had been sanitised before our arrival and left in our room to which the receptionist escorted us. We were asked to keep our key with us for the duration of our stay and to drop it in the key box provided at Reception on checking out. We were also told that our room would not be serviced throughout the duration of our stay and no cleaning staff would enter our room. If essential maintenance were required, we would be asked to leave our room, to allow the Maintenance team sole access whilst they work. Fortunately, there was no need!
Much more time has been given to ensure that bedrooms are cleaned thoroughly after guests depart, paying extra attention to high touch items such as light switches, plug sockets, tv remote controls and handles. All high touch items such as magazines, games and marketing literature been removed from our room. I was told that all bed linen adheres strictly to the recognised guidelines for thermal disinfection during the laundry process. Thermal disinfection is achieved at 93°C for one minute, 71°C for three minutes, or 65°C for at least ten minutes. Reassuring!
The receptionist explained all the new hotel details, the need to book a time for the pool, breakfast, dinner, and all other information pertinent to our stay.
Spa accommodation is also provided at `Orchard House`, a short walk through some delightful gardens, manicured hedgerows, and a profusion of brightly coloured flowers in full bloom. Orchard House is built next to the old tennis courts on a site which once included a former `helipad`. The house provides 12 luxury rooms sitting above a very impressive series of spa rooms which includes a steam room and sauna, unfortunately closed during the current health crisis, a beautifully tiled outdoor Jacuzzi and `Swedish sauna`, indoor swimming pool, which were open, and its very own Spa café room.
There were towels, bathrobes and slippers provided at the spa when we walked over to make use of the pool but the showers were not being used in the spa at the present time! We showered back at our room. The facilities in Elan Spa were exceptional with all spa facilities under one roof. The spa facilities include, an outdoor seated patio area making it possible to pop outside for a quick dip or enjoy a drink, even when the weather is not so good. Spa & pool reservations are necessary so that guest arrivals are spaced more evenly to prevent guests arriving at the Spa reception at the same time. Use of the changing rooms was restricted. On arrival the person at the reception desk had opened a locker in each of the changing rooms for our use. Only six people were allowed in the pool at any one time although on our visit there were just four of us in the pool area, two on loungers and the two of us in the pool.
We strolled across to the main hotel for a`pre-dinner` drink in the lounge before having dinner in the Elizabethan style `library` dining room. The formal restaurant was a delightful, wood panelled drawing room with fine views out over the lawns & formal gardens.
It was a fine dining restaurant experience in the traditional Grand Lutyens style main house. All the food was very beautifully presented and cooked to perfection.
The waiting staff were all very polite and always smiling, despite the masks; the eyes have it! The waitress staff were always available to cater for our every need and were very professional and attentive, but guests can no longer expect to have their chairs tucked beneath them and the pouring of wine is now left to guests!
All Dining Rooms and Lounges have been rearranged to provide appropriate spacing and there appeared to be less furniture in these areas. Dinner reservations are taken on arrival.
The Hotel politely requests that allocated times are strictly followed to help keep all guests spaced evenly and so as not to arrive together. There were plenty of table and serving staff, who I discovered were very knowledgeable.
Our choice of wine was a Chianti Classico Antinori Peppoli 2017. Ruby red in colour this fresh and savoury Chianti Classico offered the fruity aromas of cherries and redcurrants along with the familiar Chianti hints of violets coupled with a light suggestion of toasted oak. The wine complimented the lamb dish perfectly!
The highlight of the tasting menu for my wife and I was the Cotswold Lamb which had an incredible taste and literally melted in the mouth. The sweet pea puree was an essential component of the dish. The Mallory Garden Tomatoes were simply delicious, and the roasted Scallop added enormously to the dish along with the subtle hints of chive. The Truffle Gougere, essentially a Pastry Puff, served along with Wild Garlic & a Nasturtium leaf from the Hotel garden as an `Amuse Bouche` was delightfully simple and tasty. After the main meal we went and enjoyed coffee in one of the lounges. The small collection of homemade sweets went down very well as we rested in a couple of comfortable armchairs, particularly the Sea Salt Fudge which I loved!
Tasting Menu: `Tastes of the Season`
Bar Snacks: Crispy Broad Beans & Olive Selection
Snacks: Truffle Gougere – Nasturtium & Pickled Wild Garlic
Smoked Cod’s Roe Emulsion, Parsley & Potato
To Share: Patti`s Bread Selection & Sea Salt Butter
A Taste of Mallory Court: Mallory Garden Tomatoes, Chive Emulsion & Tomato Water & Roasted Scallop
Starters: Chicken Terrine, Broad Bean Salad, Piccalilli & Sourdough
There was an alternative main of Crab Nage of seafood & Oriental Flavours but my wife and I both opted for the lamb.
Main Course: Cotswold Lamb, Peas, Bacon, Lettuce & Roasting Jus
Savoury: Celeriac, Feta Cheese & Grapes
Sweet: English Strawberries, Shortcake, Sorbet with a Hint of Basil English Strawberries, Crème Fraise Mousse, Basil and Shortbread
By the Fire Side: Coffee with Vanilla Raspberry Marshmallow, Passion Fruit Jelly & Sea Salt Fudge
When we came down for breakfast, we were seated at the same table we had used for dinner the evening before. They no longer offer a buffet style food at breakfast. All orders are taken at your table.
After breakfast we took a walk amongst the `formal gardens` down to two small pools, beautiful flower borders, lawns, and a delightful small wooden bridge with arable fields beyond. Another very important aspect of this hotel are the beautiful gardens which are obviously well tended which adds to the special ambience of the grounds.
Mallory Court Hotel simply radiates elegance, fine taste and style with luxury accommodation, magnificent grounds, low – profile and unobtrusive service and simply exquisite, flawless food in the very heart of Warwickshire.
I would fully recommend Mallory Court Hotel and Spa to anyone looking for a short luxury weekend break or to celebrate a special occasion. I found the Hotel, Spa & grounds to be very safe. Everything appears to have been considered to ensure a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable Hotel experience and the food is simply amazing!
Why not check it out!
Harbury Lane, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV33 9QB
Conference & Events
Did you know?
Leamington is closely associated with the founding of lawn tennis. The first tennis club in the world was formed in 1872 by Major Henry Gem and Augurio Pereira who had started playing tennis in the garden of Pereira. It was located just behind the former Manor House Hotel and the modern rules of lawn tennis were drawn up in 1874 in Leamington Tennis Club.
In 1814, the Royal Pump Rooms and Baths were opened close to the River Leam. This grand structure attracted many visitors, expecting cures by bathing in pools of salty spa water. It also included the world’s first gravity fed piped hot water system in modern times, which was designed and installed by the engineer William Murdoch. Leamington became a popular spa resort attracting the wealthy and famous, and construction began of numerous Georgian townhouses to accommodate visitors, and a town hall was built in 1830.
With the spread of the town’s popularity, and the granting of a ‘Royal’ prefix in 1838 by Queen Victoria, ‘Leamington Priors’ was renamed ‘Royal Leamington Spa’. Queen Victoria had visited the town as a Princess in 1830 and as Queen in 1858. A statue of Queen Victoria was almost destroyed by a German bomb during the Second World War and was moved one inch on its plinth by the blast. The statue was not returned to its original position, and the incident is recorded on a plaque on its plinth.