Room Service: A manor reborn, a star to follow?
Brockencote Hall, Worcestershire
Saturday 20 April 2013
As I rounded the driveway's final bend and saw the Victorian, French-style country manor house for the first time, I let out an involuntary "wow". The 21-bedroom Brockencote Hall became part of the Eden Hotel Collection (that also includes Mallory Court, in Leamington Spa) in 2011 and the group has spent £2m refurbishing the hotel, which now looks completely refreshed, inside and out.
Birmingham-based Nicholas Hollinshead Interiors (whose other luxury hotel clients have included the South Lodge Hotel, in West Sussex, and Pennyhill Park, in Surrey) has thrown out the lace-net curtains and wood-chip paper of old and in their place created a comfortingly traditional yet stylish interior, with lots of wood panelling, antique furniture, open fires and tastefully upholstered sofas. The more modern conservatory bar is saved from anonymity by a wood-fronted bar fashioned from an antique sideboard. Afternoon tea, pre-dinner drinks, and breakfast are served on the terrace in good weather.
There are also tennis courts, a croquet lawn and a fishing lake, but the main activity for many visitors will be eating and drinking. The Chaddersley Restaurant with views over the terrace, acres of linen, and well stocked cheese trolley, is country-house fine dining personified.
But there's a twist. Chef Adam Brown has worked for a number of Michelin-starred chefs (including David Everitt-Matthias at two-star Le Champignon Sauvage, in Cheltenham) and has all the cutting-edge style and talent to bag one of his own when the guide awards its new stars in October this year. Using ingredients foraged from the hotel's grounds, he creates delicious and highly individual dishes such as pan-fried fillet of brill with confit duck gizzard, mushrooms and golden plum, parsnip cake and caramelised honey cream, made with honey from the hotel's own hives. A three-course meal for two including wine, water and service costs about £170.
The hotel has a peaceful, rural feel being set in the middle of 70 acres with sheep grazing in the surrounding fields. But you're far from isolated here. The village of Chaddesley Corbett is a five-minute stroll away and is home to no less than three pubs including The Talbot (01562 777388; talbotinn.net), which is recommended by The Good Pub Guide.
The historic town of Kidderminster, and its mainline railway station, is less than four miles away and the shops and restaurants of Birmingham and Worcester are within a 40-minute drive.
If you're in the mood for walking, Chaddesley Wood National Nature Reserve is about two miles away, or for a more strenuous expedition, the Malvern Hills (01684 892002; malvernhills .org.uk) are 20 miles away.
There are five categories of room: "classic", up to "feature", which all have very comfortable super-king beds. Most rooms are similar in size; however, the superior and master rooms have bathtubs, while the latter also have a corner aspect.
The 11 rooms in the west wing – which was added in the mid-Nineties – are the most contemporary, designed with either a smart grey, green or blue colour palette. They feature hand-made limed oak furniture. Sequoia, in the eaves of the building has the most character with a roll-top tub in the spacious bathroom. I stayed in the oversized Wellingtonia room in the main house where the rooms are decorated in a more traditional country house style and have an authentically creaky floor, marble fireplace, antique walnut furniture, and huge picture windows hung with embroidered silk drapes that overlook the fields at the front of the hotel.
The only disappointment was the seriously underpowered walk-in shower in the modern and roomy bathroom.
There's free Wi-Fi, mini bars stocked with mineral water and fresh milk, and a cafetière for fresh coffee. The turn-down service includes camomile tea and the weather forecast – in the charming form of The Brockencote Times, an A4 sheet of hotel news.
Brockencote Hall, Chaddesley Corbett, Near Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY10 4PY (01562 777876; brockencotehall.com).
Doubles start at £165, including breakfast.
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