(Blur) – Ettington Park Hotel
This is fast becoming a year of firsts for me, my first Hilton, my first trip to Butlins and now my first ‘country house’ hotel.
I was invited to to the Ettington Park Hotel for a corporate ‘away day’; the company I work for is ‘virtual’ and we’re scattered around the country, so a venue in the Cotswolds was mutually inconvenient – we all had a 2-3 hour drive to get there.
The hotel’s architecture is charming; wonderfully eccentric, with spires, towers and crenellations. Friends who have seen my photos have commented that it evokes ‘Hogwarts’, but on much smaller scale.
Inside, and through a small conservatory, reception is wood panelled and galleried. This is the domain of Damon the ever helpful concierge (and IT ‘champion’) . Damon is eager to assist and has a wealth of connection cables to resolve any technical problems.
There’s fast (5.1 Mbps) WiFi throughout the hotel which, for me at least, was good because there was no EE phone signal.
From reception and through the small bar, into the main drawing room, the hotel evokes the whole ‘Downton Abbey’ vibe, with comfortable sofas and views through the windows (past the shingle patio) over the lush parkland.
Our corporate presentations took place in the ‘Oval Office’ which was ideal for half a dozen people, much of the hotel had been taken over for the day by a car company for a press launch. We were well supplied with refreshments through the day, while the buffet lunch – presented in the stained glass lined chapel – was both plentiful and tasty.
We were allowed to check in to our rooms mid afternoon, and ‘my’ room (in the thirties) was on the first floor, well appointed with a very large TV, even larger bed, and immaculate bathroom.
There’s a small fridge with (complimentary) still and sparkling water and fresh milk for morning tea. In the wardrobe there’s a mini-safe, iron and hairdryer, and outside, a trouser press. I miss trouser presses in hotels, but as one of a small band of people who have a trouser press at home, maybe I’m in the minority.
One can only imagine what the stairs and corridors were like before fire doors were forced upon them, similarly I’m sure that the original bedrooms were larger and even more sumptuous.
We enjoyed a few drinks on the patio in the early evening sunshine before adjourning to dine in ‘The Chapel’, our meal was a corporate, table d’hôte, three course meal that was, simply delicious, accompanied by some excellent wines.
I woke next morning, refreshed, and enjoyed breakfast before having to leave, early, for business meetings elsewhere. There were squirrels and rabbits in the parkland as I departed. Unfortunately the brevity of my stay meant that I was unable to try the hotel’s spa facilities.
I have a couple of minor criticisms, which I trust the hotel (if they ever read this) will take in the constructive spirit they’re intended.
Firstly, the selection of beers in the bar? I mean, Carlsberg lager, Tetley keg bitter and bottled ‘Old Hooky’? In this new golden age of ‘craft’ brewing, the hotel’s beer offering is (very) little short of woeful. It wouldn’t take much to offer an imaginative selection of locally and nationally brewed craft beers.
Secondly, the cooked breakfast was somewhat lacking. While I acknowledge that there was a ‘continental’ selection of cheeses, pastries and charcuterie available – again in the chapel – the cooked ‘English’ breakfast was less than impressive and frankly did not represent good value for money.
Those small criticisms aside, I would be happy to visit Ettington Park again; perhaps if they’d like someone to consult on craft beers. 🙂
And, let’s be honest, any day that starts by being greeted by wild rabbits, is a good day!