If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend away that has an easily accessible location, locally sourced food, well appointed rooms, happy and helpful staff and live entertainment, then we may have just found you the perfect place to escape to… Studley Castle.
Last weekend I was invited to attend the official launch of Studley Castle in Warwickshire, Warner Leisure’s 14th (and flagship) hotel.
It has taken three years (and £50m – one of the most significant investments by any British hotel group over the past few years) to regenerate this imposing Grade II listed building to its former glory. It now sits alongside a contemporary new wing and spa. Built originally for the High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1834, Studley Castle was a family home for 70 years. Subsequently the property became the first ever women’s agricultural college and, later still, it was used to train the Women’s Land Army during both World wars.
With half a million guests visiting their hotels every year, Warner Leisure takes a lot of time and trouble to find out exactly what their guests are looking for and the whole ethos of Studley Castle has been tailor made using this expertise.
“People have crazily busy lives. With work and kids and grandkids, life has never been busier. More than ever people need somewhere to relax, and meet, eat well, try something new, laugh and dance. Have some proper grown-up time. And that’s what Warner is all about.”
So what can you expect? A luxurious blend of historic and contemporary facilities set in 28 acres of verdant countryside. That’s a great start, but there’s more. Lots more.
When you arrive, you’ll be greeted at the grand entrance by uniformed staff who will look after your luggage while you check in. Husband and I were immediately struck by the eclectic decor as we walked to our allocated room. In places, there is a quirky Alice in Wonderland theme – great fun.
There are 209 bedrooms – some with period details and statement furniture, others, like the one we stayed in, more contemporary. We were impressed with the cleanliness, the fresh milk in the fridge (not a longlife pod to be seen), the generously sized bathrobes and quality toiletries. I could have done with a magnifying mirror to do my make up, but was pleased to discover that the main bathroom mirror had a very useful steam-free section when I emerged from my piping hot power shower. We also enjoyed the view from our balcony, which was of lush green fields dotted with grazing sheep.
The thing that struck me most during our stay was the relaxed, contented atmosphere. The staff are very well trained and genuinely happy to see you. They make you feel valued. Plus, there are no conferences, weddings or other corporate events to disturb the peace and quiet. And, much as we love them, no kids.
The Market Kitchen in the Evesham Restaurant has a brigade of 35 chefs who prepare and serve local seasonal produce carvery-style. The food was delicious food and there was plenty of it. Husband commented favourably on the wine list and its sensible prices. To give you an idea of the menu, I started with a kale, beansprout and pomegranate salad with a soy dressing, followed by sea bass (perfectly) cooked to order. There is an extensive range of desserts but I only had room for a (generous) scoop of moreish local ice cream. Our waitress, Ella, was efficient and charming. Her mother and brother also work at Studley Park – in fact it felt like every single member of staff lived nearby, which signals that the hotel is helping the local community by training and providing employment.
Studley’s other restaurant is called The Arden and it offers British classics with a modern twist. During the day, it’s a coffee lounge, which spills out onto an outdoor terrace when the weather is warm. I made a beeline for the fun ‘grass’ tables and chairs .
There’s also the Garden and Oak Rooms for an indulgent afternoon tea or cocktail, and The Hideaway where you can sink into a Chesterfield sofa and read a good book or play a board game.
You need never leave the hotel by the way. There’s so much to do. Treat yourself to a skin-boosting facial in the Stables Spa perhaps – the therapists really know their stuff. Husband had a relaxing swim in the pool – which was just the perfect temperature apparently. There are also daily yoga or pilates classes, a sauna and a steam room.
We tried laser clay shooting on one of the outside lawns – the very personable Jack made this a really fun activity as we tested out our marksmanship skills. (Zero in my case!) There’s also archery, local walks (maps are provided) or you can borrow a bike to explore further afield.
The hotel boasts its own small, but luxurious, cinema. And you’ll never be short of top notch live entertainment. To give you an idea of the calibre of artists due to appear over the coming months: Kim Wilde 26 July, Gabrielle 23 August, Mica Paris 31 August and Alexandra Burke on 21 October. Pretty impressive I think you’ll agree.
If you are keen to venture out, there is masses to see and do – pop into Stratford upon Avon, visit Warwick Castle, Bourton-on-the-Water or take a fascinating tour around one of the local breweries or gin distilleries.
“Studley Castle is a shining example of listening intently to existing and new guest feedback and giving them exactly what they want, without compromising on quality.” Simon Thomson, MD, Warner Leisure Hotels
So, how much will a day or two at Studley Castle set you back? Well I was genuinely surprised to find out that it’s only around £100 per person per night including breakfast, dinner and activities. Only spa treatments, drinks and lunches are extra. So, if you are looking for an excellent value break from your normal routine, you should definitely check out Studley Castle. Click here now.
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