Forest Pines Golf Resort – Hotel Review
By Matt Callard
Now, golf I know. Parts of it anyway. Mainly the hacking, frustrating bits. But I also know those fleeting moments of synchronicity when you’re certain your game is finally all coming together. Even if, in my case, the next shot is likely to end up on the wrong fairway.
Hotels I know fairly well. Their etiquette and manners, their dos-and-don’ts. I’ve stayed in plenty, reviewed more than I can remember. I like them, mostly. But some things, no matter what the calibre of establishment, need to be just right – cleanliness, friendliness and comfort.
Spas I’m not too familiar with. I’ve had the odd rubdown. Tiptoed self-consciously in to one here and there. All too aware that here is a man out of place, in an unfamiliar world of scented candles, flowery-named oils and otherworldly muzak.
But all three combined? Now that is a new experience altogether. Would the golf improve? Would the meals satisfy after 27 holes in 18-hours? And would I be insisting on a back, shoulder and neck massage after completing my next round at the local pitch and putt?
“Exceptionally warm and welcoming”
Forest Pines Golf Resort is handily located on the borders of Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire. It has good credentials, coming as part of the Q Hotels Group, who also look after The Queens and Oulton Hall in Leeds, Aldwark Manor in York and Tankersley Manor in Sheffield (among many others nationwide).
The red brick exterior lacks the grandiose charm of the aforementioned establishments. Although after a while you’ll realise it’s a functional place, neatly laid-out. Built for pleasure more than admiring glances. And it’s immaculately clean – ticking the first box on the ‘essentials’ list.
First impressions matter, of course, so it’s good that the reception staff are on it immediately. They’ll check you in, explain the layout of the hotel, book you in for any food, direct you to the golf and spa area. And (essential #2) they’re exceptionally warm and welcoming.
Probably though, you’ll just want to unload in your room and take things in at your own pace. The rooms are excellent. I shared a twin with my golfing partner and while the beds were extremely roomy (doubles!) and comfortable (essential #3) you could almost live in the Villeroy and Boch bathroom. Spacious, fresh, with a full length wall mirror and a power shower to die for.
“Immaculate lines of pines and a few devilish water hazards”
So, all set up for a bit of golf, then?
We are booked in for two nights, with nine-holes planned in the twilight for a bit of preparation and then the full 18-holes the following day. The golf hub, separate from the main hotel, hosts a pro shop. Buggies are available, but I’d recommend avoiding them if possible. You can only use them down preordained side tracks, which can be awkward if you hook or slice to the opposite side. In fact, even a well-placed drive on the fairway can necessitate some frustrating back-and-forth between ball and buggy.
There are three exceptionally well-kept nine-hole courses. The holes weave and loop through immaculate lines of pines and there are a few devilish water hazards to contend with (6,000 balls were fished out last year, apparently!). The round-the-green bunkers offer a tough challenge for first-timers like us, but the peaceful ambience and world-class conditions (the PGA four-ball Championship has been hosted here) make for a very enjoyable round of golf.
After our nine-holes we have time to relax before heading for dinner. Naturally, golf feeds hunger. So it’s important that the on-site restaurant caters for appetites, as well as offers a more refined choice for the spa-goers and general overnighters that the hotel also looks after.
“Presentation veers towards fine dining”
The menu in the Eighteen57 restaurant promises much at above average prices. The interior is slightly awkward, being hampered by a couple of dominating dividing walls that separate half the diners from the other half. Assuming they are not an architectural necessity, I’d prefer the space to have been more open. I mean, who doesn’t want to spy on what your fellow diners are eating, right?
Starters of Warm Rolled Ham Hock (£8) and Pan-Seared Scallops (£9.50) were excellent. The ham’s saltiness nicely balanced next to some sharp pickled veg and mustard oil. The scallops were cooked well (there’s only way to cook scallops correctly, let’s not forget). A nice butter bean puree complements the dish well.
Those all-important mains needed to satisfy, and while my Lamb Rump, Roast Baby Carrots and Shallots (£21.95) was perfect – the lamb just the right side of pink – my partner’s Honey-Glazed Gressingham Duck Breast, although delicious, was a rather skimpy portion. Certainly not adequate for that golfing hunger.
Presentation veers towards fine dining and the service is excellent throughout. For dessert, my Classic Vanilla Crème Brulée (£6) hits the sweet spot and my partner’s Cheeseboard (£9) finally satiates him.
After dinner and a drink in the bar (busy, it seems, with golfing parties) we retire for an excellent night’s sleep. Ideal preparation for the 18-hole challenge first thing in the morning.
“A spot of indulgence”
Not before breakfast, though. It’s a buffet-style affair, with an enormous selection that includes your traditional fry up, cereals, pastries, drinks, fruit, toast – even a continental-style charcuterie offering a selection of cold meats. Personally, I’d prefer table service with more stripped-back options, but there is no concession to quality, despite the enormous quantity on show.
More golf follows. We notice near the pro shop an array of framed football shirts. Upon investigation we see they are from various Premier League football teams who use the hotel prior to playing nearby Hull City. How this might change the hotel when the teams are staying we can’t say – but it does at least offer an indication towards the quality of rooms and comfort inside.
After the golf we prepare for a spot of indulgence. Forest Pines has a spa, as well as a pool with steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna. After 18-holes we are ready to try them all out.
The spa is a haven, naturally. One you really need to immerse in to. My partner and I enjoy an expert back, neck and shoulders massage (£35) for 30-minutes. It really is the perfect wind-down after a three-hour golf walk. In fact, it’s something I actually miss the next time I find myself on a course a few days later! Oh, how those professionals are pampered, eh?
Finally, we dip into the excellent pool and test out the sauna (infra-red dry heat that is fantastically hot), the steam room (a super blast of wet heat with fresh aromas) and the Jacuzzi (busy, but welcome).
“A three-way combo of golf, food and relaxation”
Loungers surround the pool area, with some heated stone chairs that will, if you’re like me, probably send you to sleep. Although be warned, the pool area can get busy – especially as it is open to day members who might also use the attached gymnasium.
Later, in the newly-built Pines Bar (a sports bar-style addition that serves quite pricy bar food and overlooks the 18th green) we reflect on our stay. Did the three-way combination of sport, food and relaxation work?
Yes. Undoubtedly so.
Forest Pines Golf Hotel is an indulgent treat, where keen golfers can take on top calibre courses in an extremely high quality and relaxing environment. And if you’re able to add in visits to the restaurant and the spa, you might just be looking at a near-perfect golf break. Why not give it a shot?
A one-night stay at Forest Pines Hotel & Golf Resort starts from £99.00
A one-night stay for two at Forest Pines Hotel & Golf Resort starts from £111.00
For stays up until the 27 Nov, guests can save 15% on a two night break with a FREE bedroom upgrade for arrivals Sun – Thurs
To book a break at Forest Pines Hotel & Golf Resort visit QHotels.co.uk