Tewkesbury Park Hotel – Review
Tewkesbury Park Hotel, Cotswolds
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
You know that January feeling? The one where you return to work after Christmas, with the ‘New year, new me’ approach to absolutely everything, and the personal promise that this year will be your year? But you get to the middle of the month and think “I need a break!”?
Well, I had that. But luckily for me, I had a weekend in the Cotswolds to look forward to. Tewkesbury. Two nights at the Tewkesbury Park Hotel – coming at just at the right time.
If you’re heading to Tewkesbury from Yorkshire, it’s a good three hour drive. About 170 miles away, via the M1, M42 and M5. I find Haribo’s, Peanut M&M’s and a George Benson Greatest Hits album helps a journey like that pass nicely.
“The warmest welcome”
So, after a leisurely Friday afternoon drive, I pulled in to the tree-lined driveway, at the end of which sits the eye-catching, subtly-lit 18th century property. It’s owned by a local family who’ve invested many millions of pounds into it over the last few years to make it a standout hotel, leisure and golf club.
As I enter the hotel, I almost miss the reception. A standard reception desk there is not; but Alistair gives me the warmest welcome I could have imagined from behind a table in the foyer. He takes one of my bags and leads me to my suite.
The reception area, connecting lounges and the staircase encapsulate character, and style. A beautiful balance of tradition, with modern touches and details. Homely for both the modern traveler, and the more mature guest.
“A room fit for a (future) King?”
My room, the Prince William suite was lovely. Like much of the hotel, it had a homely feel with features that wouldn’t be out of place in a new build property. Alistair showed me how a couple of the room controls worked, and I got to grips with my room for the next two nights.
Mightily impressed I was too. Everything a guest could need at their disposal: A selection of teas (fruit, herbal, Earl Grey and normal), a digital bluetooth radio, beautiful aromatic toiletries, dressing gown, slippers, iron, ironing board, safe and fridge. And topping off my pleasure, I clock the Nespresso coffee maker and the pods to go with it. (There’s a small bottle of fresh milk in the fridge for the coffee.) I know I’ll enjoy waking up here!
Plenty of sockets as well, and USB charging points in each one. I really did have everything. And I also had a little under an hour to freshen up before heading in to the restaurant for dinner.
“Nice to switch off and relax”
After a lovely shower, I headed down for my evening meal, where Alice greeted me and led me to my table. I was sat in a quiet area of the raised deck of the restaurant. After the long journey, it was nice to switch off and relax.
Breakfast and a three-course meal with house wine is included in the price of your room at Tewkesbury Park Hotel. And the winter menu has a large offering, including a handful of options that carry a small supplement.
I decided on the Grassingham Smoked Duck Breast to start, followed by the 24-hours Slow Braised Blade of Herefordshire Beef for my main course.
The Duck arrived, beautifully presented and complete with kumquat compote, blood orange gel and pork crackling. It had a fine dining look, but generous in portion. The tenderness of the dish was something else – soft and incredibly succulent. The taste? Fabulous.
“One of the best recommendations I’ve ever had”
My main course was just as exquisite. As my fork came in to contact with the braised beef, it fell apart. So incredibly soft, I hardly needed to chew it. I asked Alice to exclude carrots from the caramelised root veg (we had quite a discussion about how perturbing the carrot can be), and she and the chef duly obliged. The celeriac puree hit the spot, and the fondant potato and red wine jus was amazing. I was full, content, and comfortable.
A dessert was in order, and I asked for Alice’s opinion on what I should go for. Her response was one of the best recommendations I’ve ever had in a restaurant: “Have what you wouldn’t have at home” she said. I loved that. It’s what my mum would say, and it was just a perfect suggestion. It also reaffirmed the impression that I was getting from the staff at Tewkesbury Park Hotel that they are good, professional and brilliant adverts for the hotel. Slick service, with a genuine smile and absolutely fuss-free.
The hazelnut and praline parfait, with caramelised banana and salted caramel ice cream (that I certainly wouldn’t have at home) rounded off a lovely first sitting for me in the restaurant.
“The ultimate testimonial”
The hotel has a health club, which includes a swimming pool and gymnasium. If it wasn’t for injury, I’d have sampled these, however I did make sure I checked them out. The swimming pool looked very inviting, and they’ve put money in to that and the gym. The state of the art Life Fitness equipment looks brand new, and it’s clean, bright and roomy workout zone. A newly refurbished sauna and steam room, along with squash and tennis courts means there are ample activities for the sporty type of visitor.
And let’s not forget the golf course. In fact, you can’t forget the golf course. Your immediate view from much of the hotel looks out on to some impressive and well-maintained greens. Personally, I’m not a golfer – but many of the people in the bar on the Friday night are; and they eulogise about the course when I ask them about it. One tells me that it’s the most enjoyable course he’s played in his 48 years of playing the game. I’ll take that as the ultimate testimonial.
There’s a nice atmosphere in the bar. Alistair had also opened up a suite for me to watch the football on a large screen – something he didn’t have to do and something I was truly grateful for. Again, fuss-free, excellent service appearing again, when similar hotels wouldn’t have entertained the idea of putting the football on.
“Clean, comfortable and spacious”
After a perfect night’s sleep, I woke up on Saturday morning to a stunning view through the raindrops on the window. You get to look at the Malvern hills in one direction, and the Cotswolds hills in the other. I’m sipping a coffee from the machine as I look across the hills, re-visiting the day’s plans in my head.
I head down to the restaurant for breakfast, and I decide that paying the supplement of £4.95 for Eggs Benedict is too good value to refuse. The poached eggs were excellent, rendering my decision the right one.
In daylight it struck me that the restaurant was perhaps a little on the dated side. It was clean, comfortable and spacious – but from a décor point of view, somewhat out of keeping with the rest of the hotel. I do know that the owners are planning to refurbish the restaurant this winter though, and I have no complaints anyway. It’s nice, and the food that you eat in there is incredibly good. Well, when your head chef has cooked for the Queen, what can you expect?
So far, my idea of a relaxing break is going well. Little did I know this was about to increase ten-fold, with a visit to the hotel spa at 10am.
“I don’t think I’ve had a more relaxing hour”
Not one for spa treatments and massages, I booked in for a bespoke facial and was met in reception by another engaging and friendly member of staff; therapist Amanda. She took me to the spa, which is a bit of a mazy walk for someone who doesn’t know their way round the property.
I was left to get myself comfortable on the bed, and everything was peaceful. The quiet music, the lighting, the aromas. Although I was at ease, I wasn’t sure what a facial consisted of. I asked Amanda if she’d mind explaining each step as she was about to perform it. I know this goes against the grain of relaxation, but she described what she was about to do. However, the treatment was so good, I’m sure I dwindled in and out of sleep. I don’t remember much, but I have to say I don’t think I’ve never had a more relaxing hour in my entire life. Hot mitts, strawberry lotions, face peels… delightful.
Now, I have nothing to compare this facial to as it was my first time, but it has set the bar high. I left the spa looking great and feeling amazing. Why have I left it so long?
“Strolling down the riverside”
I planned to explore the town on the Saturday, but needed some un-expected wake up time after my spa experience.
Just after 1pm I took hold of the map of the area that Alistair provided me with; and checked out trusty Google maps. I wrapped up warm, put up the hood (the rain had eased off), and off I went. It’s a good five minute walk to get to end of the drive, but then it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to get into Tewkesbury.
It’s an historic riverside town, and the first thing I noticed was The Bloody Meadow. The scene of the final rout of the Lancastrian Army at the Battle Of Tewkesbury, 4th May 1471. With medieval streets and a traditional high street, you can’t help but notice Tewkesbury Abbey as you walk towards the centre. An impressive structure, the Norman abbey is nearly 900 years old. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of your journey in to the town.
You pass many half-timbered buildings, some of which house businesses nowadays – and the Tewkesbury Museum is just a few minutes along the road from the Abbey.
“A lovely town”
It’s a lovely town, and if you’ve got your leisurely walking boots on, you can benefit from scenic abundance by strolling down the riverside.
With so much to see, I spent a good four hours exploring Tewkesbury Centre. It seems quite under-visited, but I put this down to the weather and the season. I was welcomed by the locals for a drink in the traditional Nottingham Arms pub, before heading back to the hotel to freshen up for my evening meal.
I chose to eat a bit later on the Saturday, and asked Alice for a table that wasn’t as tucked away as the previous night’s. Once again, she didn’t let me down.
For dinner that evening I had the roasted curried aubergine, with tandoori spiced ratatouille, gazpacho puree and potato crisp to start. I went for the roasted corn-fed supreme of chicken for my main course, and that came with confit leg and leek pithivier, charred tenderstem broccoli, truffle mash and madeira sauce.
I’d built up quite an appetite through the day, and once again both dishes were sublime. I don’t think an aubergine option is ever going to be on the same level as a duck dish, and I’d been spoiled with Friday’s starter – but nonetheless, it went down a treat.
I finised with the sticky toffee pudding (something I would have at home), honeycomb ice-cream and brandy snap and I was done. It was a terrific way to end my Saturday, but I was pooped. I thanked the restaurant staff for looking after me so well, before I went back to my room to get my head down and prepare for a long journey home on Sunday morning.
“Wonderful people who are good to be around”
So what’s left to say? You will have a lovely stay at Tewkesbury Park Hotel, and you will be looked after. Well looked after, by wonderful people who are good to be around.
Location, service, quality and food. All some of the best you’ll come across.
Would I go back to the Cotswolds? Yes. Would I go back to Tewkesbury Park Hotel? Absolutely. It’s a hit – whether you own a set of clubs or not.
Tewkesbury Park Hotel, Lincoln Green Lane, Tewkesbury, GL20 7DN
Tewkesbury Park is set in 163 acres of undulating parkland has nine suites and 85 bedrooms. The second phase of its extensive two-year renovation was completed at a cost of £4 million in the autumn of 2016.
Key features of the hotel include an 18-hole par 73 parkland golf course, academy course, practice
range, putting green and pro shop. The Leisure Club has a state of the art gymnasium, indoor swimming pool and steam room, and squash and tennis courts are available too.