REVIEW: Stoke Park Hotel & Spa, Buckinghamshire
WHY GO? This is just any grand old hotel. The spa is worth a visit alone – a huge gym is chock-full of equipment and there’s an extensive programme of professionally-taught classes all day, in everything from Body Pump to Hot Yoga. Finish with a swim in the indoor pool, then a session in the steam room and sauna – just don’t forget to take a dip in the outdoor hot tub, set within pretty green gardens.
An extensive treatment menu is available (we sampled the Aromatherapy Associates Intense Muscle Release – bliss. There’s even a nail bar, so you leave the hotel feeling truly polished.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? So cinematic is the setting that it’s provided a backdrop for films including ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, ‘Layer Cake’ and ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, to name a few.
Relive Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver’s battle for Bridget’s affections in rowing boats on the crystal clear lake, take a swing on the very golf course home to James Bond and Auric Goldfinger’s epic duel, or try your hand at tennis on the same court visited by Paul Bettany’s character Peter Colt in ‘Wimbledon’.
WHERE? Within easy reach of Heathrow and Windsor, it’s super close to London – ideal for ducking out of work an hour early on a Friday and lounging in your robe with a glass of bubbly by 7pm.
BEST ROOM: Split into the historic ‘Mansion’ or modern add-on ‘The Pavilion’, rooms are sumptuous and traditional, with large flat screen TVs and modern bathrooms. complete with roll top baths.
Ours overlooked the glorious grounds of the estate, reached via a grand marble staircase by an open fire or narrow, creaky walkways lined with paintings.
BEST DISH: Humphry’s orchid-laden restaurant effuses grandeur of Beauty And The Beast proportions, offering up everything from lamb rack to octopus carpaccio, foie gras, game terrine and roasted curried cauliflower. Fine dining, indeed. Pan-fried scallops with baked apple purée, pickled fennel, toasted hazelnut and apple were expertly cooked, but fillet of Brookfield Farm beef with truffle potato terrine, sherry-glazed onions, watercress purée and red wine jus stole the show.
HOW MUCH? Classic Mansion Rooms start from £250 per night.