We reveal the top places to stay for first class dining and elegant, rural surroundings.
1. The Tudor Room, Great Fosters, Surrey
This immaculately preserved former Tudor hunting lodge is rumoured to be the very first country house hotel in England and is now home to the Tudor Room restaurant. Headed up by Douglas Balish, the restaurant is an intimate, decadent space with 16th century tapestries, silk lined walls and deep velvet chairs. Serving classic food with a modern twist, many of the ingredients are provided by the estate and kitchen garden. With Balish’s eye firmly fixed on awards, the Tudor Room’s star is in ascendance.
(www.greatfosters.co.uk; 01784 433 822)
2. The Park, Lucknam Park, Wiltshire
Set in 500 acres of stunning English countryside, Lucknam Park was briefly used during the Second World War to park Spitfire and Hurricane aeroplanes, perfectly camouflaged within its magnificent beech and lime tree-lined driveway. Now this Palladian mansion has been lovingly restored and features a spa, wellbeing centre and equestrian facilities, making it one of the finest hotels in the country. Boasting two restaurants, The Park has held a Michelin star under Executive Chef Hywel Jones since 2006.
(www.lucknampark.co.uk; 01225 742 777)
3. Restaurant Coworth Park, Coworth Park, Berkshire
The Dorchester Collection’s vision for Coworth Park was to create the finest country house hotel in the UK and as such it bears little resemblance to its sister property in Park Lane. The gilt and grandeur has been replaced by tree motifs and subtle, dusky hues and the driveway is bordered by vast polo fields and a meadow of wild flowers. Restaurant Coworth Park showcases a modern outlook on classic British dishes and is located in the mansion house offering stunning views across the rose terrace and croquet lawn.
(www.dorchestercollection.com/en/ascot/coworth-park; 01344 876 600)
4. The Potager Restaurant, Barnsley House, Gloucestershire
Recently renovated, Barnsley House’s chintz has been replaced with a simple and stylish decor lending it a far more contemporary boutique hotel feel. The Potager Restaurant is a bright, airy space serving an Anglo-Mediterranean inspired menu using local produce and vegetables from its kitchen garden.
(www.barnsleyhouse.com; 01285 740 000)
5. The Avenue Restaurant, Lainston House, Hampshire
Perfectly placed for a variety of country pursuits including shooting, fly-fishing and falconry, the most striking feature of Lainston is its incredible avenue of lime trees. Reported to be the longest line of limes in England, this impressive feature lends the restaurant its name which gazes out upon it. The room manages to be both grand and relaxing and Chef Olly Rouse’s back to basics approach ensures his menu continually evolves in his pursuit of special ingredients.
(www.lainstonhouse.com; 01962 776 088)
6. The Wernher Restaurant, Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire
Behind the imposing granduer of Luton Hoo’s magnificent mansion house, the atmosphere of the hotel is warm and welcoming and the Wernher Restaurant, named after a previous owner, is just spectacular. With exotic marble panelwork and richly coloured fabrics, this part of the mansion house was extensively remodeled in the early 20th century by the architects responsible for the Ritz, London. The effect is reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles and the food served is no less impressive.
(www.lutonhoo.co.uk; 01582 734 437)
7. André Garrett at Cliveden House, Cliveden House Hotel, Berkshire
Set high above the Thames, this luxurious Italianate mansion holds a special place for its rich ‘scandalous’ history and glorious setting in National Trust grounds. The grand old dame can move with the times however and a 16 month renovation programme has restored it to former glory. It has also become host to the expertise of Chef André Garrett. Previously at Galvins, Garrett is winning awards hand over fist for his deft and delicious cooking within the stylish new setting of Cliveden’s restaurant.
(www.clivedenhouse.co.uk; 01628 668 561)
8. The Restaurant, Ockenden Manor, West Sussex
Tucked away in Cuckfield, one of the prettiest Tudor villages in England, is the charming and tranquil Ockenden Manor. Less than an hour from London, this former Elizabethan Manor House is set in nine acres of glorious gardens and boasts fabulous views across the South Downs. Sample the flavours of Sussex in Chef Stephen Crane’s Michelin star fine dining restaurant and indulge in a seven course tasting menu.
(www.hshotels.co.uk/ockenden-manor-hotel-and-spa; 01444 416 111)
9. Michael Wignall at Gidleigh Park, Devon
Nestled within a wooded valley, the exquisite Gidleigh Park presents Michael Wignall. Michael describes his food as ‘modern, technical and meaningful’, he has amassed an impressive list of awards and accolades during his career, including two Michelin stars and five AA Rosettes at his previous restaurant.
The restaurant is newly renovated, but maintains it elegance with it’s stunning panelled environment and matching the standards in the kitchen, the wine cellar also boasts over 1,300 bins, offering one of the most impressive wine lists in the British Isles.
(www.gidleigh.co.uk; 01647 432 367)
10. The Restaurant, Gravetye Manor, West Sussex
The utterly romantic Gravetye was built for a bride back in 1598 and the charming house and stunning gardens are testament to this treasured legacy. Famous amongst horticulture fans for its grounds, the hotel’s restaurant benefits from a one acre walled kitchen garden providing 95% of the fruit and vegetables used during summer months. It has also just been awarded a Michelin star in the latest 2016 publication.
(www.gravetyemanor.co.uk; 01342 810 567)
For more fine dining ideas visit The Luxury Restaurant Guide (www.luxuryrestaurantguide.com)