Coombe Abbey Hotel, Coventry, Warwickshire

Two years ago Coombe Abbey Hotel celebrated an important milestone in its long & illustrious history. It had been twenty five years since the former monastery had opened its doors for the first time in 1995. Long before it had become the special hotel it is today, it was the largest, most influential & richest monastery in Warwickshire, known as the ‘Abbey of Cumbe’.

Guests get their first glimpse of this Hotel as they approach this spectacular neo-Gothic building down a long driveway through open parkland & mature trees. The exterior facade of the hotel is absolutely stunning with a collection of ancient chimney towers pointing skywards and large classic dormer windows. As I crossed the small, cobbled stone bridge spanning an impressive water moat I fully understood why it is referred to as no ordinary hotel! The beautiful entrance courtyard containing a formal garden sculpture, flower borders  & circular pond is a welcoming sight for visitors.

Passing through some very heavy looking entrance doors I passed into the main reception area which at first appeared dark but once my eyes had adjusted I could see how full of character, history & opulence the Hotel was. It was like taking a step back in time! There was a high ornate pulpit from which proceedings below could be observed, confession boxes, several large open fireplaces, an assortment of wooden relics and genuine oil paintings on the walls!

There was so much to see I almost forgot to check in! Heavy leather covered antique pieces of furniture and many other interesting & unusual objects competed for my attention. A long corridor heavily laden with wall hangings, marble busts & cabinets full of hospitality awards drew me in. I was finding interest around every corner, nook & cranny! What an intriguing Hotel this was!

Having checked in I made my way up to my room using one of the small lifts which was very much appreciated particularly as I had a couple of suitcases to carry upstairs to my room. On several occasions during my stay I overlooked the lift so that I could explore the ornate staircase with its huge chandelier.

I was told that the building itself is over eight hundred and seventy years old, founded in 1150 AD as the Abbey of Cumbe. The Coombe Abbey Hotel has a rich and fascinating history with links to the British royal family and the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The Hotel has 121 rooms ranging from Grand Feature Bedchambers, rooms for families, couples, romantic weekends, business and a select number of cottages in the city of Coventry. The Hotel also prides itself on providing accommodation for a relaxing weekend away or to celebrate those special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, engagements, conferences and other special banqueting events.

I was fortunate to be spending some time at the Hotel staying in the Lady Craven Grand Feature Bedchamber. The Abbey was owned by The Craven family for 300 years and my room is named in honour & memory of Lady Elizabeth Craven. The family extensively developed the Abbey and helped develop the imposing building that it is today.

As one of their most luxurious & palatial Grand Feature Bedchambers, the Lady Craven has magnificent views across the beautiful landscaped formal gardens and lake. Created by landscape architect & and “England’s greatest gardener” Capability Brown, the gardens & extensive park beyond are worth exploring at any time of day. The Lady Craven provided stunning views of both the West Terrace and gardens from all floors of my extraordinary split level room.

It was a huge room with an impressive high ceiling that was reaching for the clouds and some beautiful original ornate plasterwork running around the top of the four walls. The crème de crème in the centre of the room raised on its own platform with steps leading up on both sides is an extravagant king sized four-poster bed. I was told that the Lady Craven is often used as a Bridal suite, I can clearly see why!

The extravagant split level bathroom was a real delight with further views over the top lake and formal gardens, presenting guests with an experience never to be forgotten. The large roll over top bath & shower draped with silk curtains & sumptuous shades of grey & cream furnishings enriches the stylish & sophisticated space. I had not come across a chain pull for the toilet since childhood! I loved the original `towel maid` too. The steps up to the bathroom & shower added a touch of sophistication & originality I had not come across anywhere else! Large fluffy towels, two monogrammed bath or dressing gowns and a good selection of bath, body and hair shampoos provided the finishing touches. The whole suite was full of character & elegance but with those essential modern touches! The ceiling to floor window curtains were held back by huge brass rings yet in the bathroom tall modern curtain shades could be opened & closed by a cool hand held device! Decorative panels, oil paintings & several other antique art pieces adorned the suite. The large fan which had been left on in our room was also much appreciated as it kept the room at a good temperature.

Featuring an ornate fireplace, the essential Tea & Coffee Making Facilities, Radio, Television, Monogrammed Bathrobes, Telephone, free Wi-Fi & Hair Dryer this beautiful room has everything and more that you would expect to find inside a five star Hotel bedroom.

Although there were two weddings taking place and it was a Friday evening I was pleasantly surprised to find that we heard no late night music or the sounds of people celebrating. Our room was very quiet throughout the night and we both slept very well and were not disturbed at all.

The elegant conservatory Garden Room Restaurant was large & bright with several paddle fans on the ceiling at one end. On the evening I visited this was very much appreciated during an unusual spell of extremely warm weather. The floor to ceiling windows and glass roof made the atmosphere very light & airy. We were seated in one of the two white iron gazebos at each end of the restaurant that had been decorated with fresh flowers. Subtle unobtrusive music purred away in the background mixed with the chatter of happy diners. The restaurant serves a range of classic dishes using the best of locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. From delicate Afternoon Teas and family celebrations to romantic A La Carte evening meals, the Garden Room Restaurant offers a variety of dining options.

Meal:

Starters:

Pan Fried Scallops, Cauliflower Puree, Golden Raisins & Peanut Crumble

Slow Cooked Free Range Blythburgh Pork Osso Buco, Crushed Butternut Squash, Pork Popcorn & Pork Reduction

Mains:

“Coombe Tournedos Rossini” Beef Fillet Tournedos, Foie Gras & Fresh Black Truffle, Fried Brioche, Green Bean & Shallot Fondue, Madeira Sauce. A choice of Au Poivre, béarnaise or red wine sauce.

“This dish was absolutely stunning. The flavours were simply fabulous. The deep fried brioche underneath the onions were just the perfect match. The Foie gras was noticeable sitting proud atop the beef fillet. A masterful presentation of flavours texture & presentation”

Honey & Whisky Glazed Duck Breast, Fondant Potato, Buttered Hispi Cabbage, Smoked Beetroot Puree & Five Spice Jus

“The four beautifully cooked pieces of chunky duck breast were complimented perfectly with the finely chopped Hispi cabbage and smoked beetroot puree which were the perfect accompaniment”

Dessert:

Dark Chocolate Sphere, Chocolate Brownie & Cocoa Nibs, Peanut Butter Ice Cream & Hot Malted Milk

“The `Zorb` as I renamed this dish looked stunning. Once the warm sauce had been poured all over the chocolate ball the dessert became a wonderful amalgamation of chocolate, Ice cream & malted mix! A delightful & satisfying mix of sweet flavours”

Raspberry & White Chocolate Trifle & Freeze Dried Raspberries

“ a simply delightful dessert which had me wanting more!”

“This modern Malbec has been aged in North American bourbon barrels for 12 months. It has very distinctive aromas of red berries marked by flavours of caramel and vanilla. The flavours of ripe caramelized fruit are perfectly merged leaving a pleasant and persistent finish on the palate”

Wine: Los Intocables (The Untouchables) Black Malbec, San Juan, Argentina – An oaked, intense, concentrated red wine.

The waiting staff were excellent, Steff who was looking after our table deserves some praise & a special mention! Professional & well informed about both the Hotel & park Steff took the time to talk with my wife & I with some genuine conversation. She was never intrusive but was always available when we needed to speak to her.

I must admit to trying some of my wife’s meal too and I thought that all dishes were beautifully cooked and presented to the table. Our dining experience in the Garden Room Restaurant was one to remember, not least because of the young staff who were all exceptionally welcoming and helpful with humour & some interesting conversation. The Award-winning food combined with the personal and attentive service helped create a superb dining experience. The Restaurant at Coombe Abbey has established a long reputation for fine dining over time, producing dishes which demonstrates fine culinary skills, flair & imagination and has a focus on home-cooked food using quality, locally-sourced ingredients.

After breakfast which I thought was well worth getting up for, my wife & I took a walk around the extensive Coombe Abbey Park. With 500 acres of beautiful gardens, woodland, lakeside walks, Heronry & bird hides, there’s plenty to explore! The Hotel is fortunate to be situated inside such a beautiful landscape. We both really enjoyed our walk. There is also a Go Ape treetop adventure course in the park which we stopped and watched for a short time for the more energetic & adventurous, but we were never tempted to join in!

Our overall Coombe Abbey experience was very enjoyable and satisfying. All of the staff whether on reception, serving at our restaurant table or at the bar presented a smart, professional, and efficient service. The hotel offers a range of excellent overnight accommodation options, superb restaurant meals and excellent table service in a wonderful location.

I have head that the afternoon teas are excellent at Coombe Abbey so it looks as though I may need to visit again sometime soon!

My visit to Coombe Abbey Hotel was one I shall remember for a long time. It must rank as one of the best Hotels I have had the good fortune to visit. The food, drink and staff service were of an excellent standard. The Lady Craven bedchamber was exceptional, our meals in the Garden Room Restaurant were first class and the waiting staff could not have done anything more to make our visit such a wonderful experience.

I would fully recommend Coombe Abbey Hotel & Park to anyone looking for a short luxury weekend break or to celebrate a special occasion.

Why not check it out! I can guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Coombe Abbey Hotel, Brinklow Road, Binley, Warwickshire, CV3 2AB.

Tel.: +44 (0) 2476 450 450.

Disclosure: My stay was courtesy of Coombe Abbey Hotel, Coventry City Council and Advent Communications & Shakespeare’s England. The views and comments expressed are as usual my own.