Just a few miles out side of London, set in lovely parkland which leads down to the quiet River Thames Syon Park House and Gardens is just feels as though you have escaped to the country. It is the perfect place to explore on a sunny day, most especially now that the new Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Restaurant has just opened.
As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer why not make a day trip of it and bicycle from London to Syon Park. I did this at the weekend, biking from Fulham all the way out to Kew, following the toe path along the Thames, which was buzzing with little sailing boats, rowers and barges. Cycling under the bridges and passing some beautiful river fronted houses makes for a very beautiful ride, about ten miles in total.
When you arrive I’d recommend taking a tour of the house, the home of the Duke of Northumberland for over 400 years, and the Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown designed gardens, which are full of rare and beautiful trees and flowers. Or play croquet and archery, fish for trout, or take a ride through the park.
All this activity only encourages you to treat yourself to lunch or dinner at the new Capability restaurant. The food is spectacular, and the menus illustrate Lee Streeton’s passion for using freshly home grown and seasonal produce in his dishes.
The waiters will talk you through the menu, explaining that the salmon and haddock are smoked in their own smokery at Syon Park, the herbs and vegetables are grown in the herb garden around the terrace outside the restaurant or picked from their fruit orchard, and their venison and steak comes from a provider in the Scottish highlands.
The sommelier will let you try a selection of suggested wines before you choose a bottle to accompany your meal and later recommend some digestive cocktails served with ice hand-chipped from Syon Park’s own ice cave.
We sat out on the terrace surrounded by the herbs, and when the sun dropped behind the wall the waiter moved us to a west-facing terrace to enjoy the sunny afternoon.
As well as the Capabitily restaurant, the Waldorf Astoria has a fantastic and jazzy Martini and cocktail bar and, in keeping with the 400 year tradition also serves High Tea in the garden where children are welcomed.
For those Londoners always on the look out for a way to fill an empty weekend a trip to Syon Park and the Capability restaurant is the perfect country escape.
* Waldorf Astoria website