As my search continues to seek out the very BEST country hotels to visit in the UK, which in time will be curated into my Top 10 Shortlist, research led me to the glorious Stoke Park Country Club Spa and Hotel. Stoke Park is renowned for its illustrious history, so my partner and I were eagerly anticipating our stay at the thousand year old estate.
As we entered the grounds following the short drive from home, on the website it correctly states that Stoke Park is only 35 minutes from London and 7 miles from London Heathrow. One could not help but be taken aback by the ever impressive sweeping driveway that greeted us with stunning views of the lakes and parts of their well maintained championship golf course. The sun decided to come out on the afternoon of our arrival on May 27th, and keen golfers were spotted along the way in the drive up to The Mansion where we had the pleasure of staying.
The original mansion, designed by English Architect James Wyatt in 1788, reminds you of the United States Capitol building. You can just feel the link to American Neoclassicism, on reading about the history of the building it confirmed the initial thoughts that I had. The mansion is located in the middle of 300 acres of privately owned parkland, lakes, gardens and monuments offering guests a traditional stay whilst The Pavillion hotel, built in 2008, offers guests a contemporary and modern experience.
We were greeted by friendly staff who took us through the check in process and shown to our room, The William and Mary Suite. We made our way through the hallway where the most beautiful chandelier took centre stage of the grand staircase that awaited us. As we made the short walk up the sweeping staircase and down a few more corridors, we took in the sights of the beautiful wall mounted historic paintings that hung proudly on the walls of this grade I listed building.
We finally arrived at our room and was impressed that the doors had a key to enter our suite as opposed to the contemporary swipe card system which made it feel very homely and inviting. We had a look around the suite which had a lovely free-standing bath, king sized bed with views overlooking the golf course. I had celebrated my 30th Birthday just a few days before arrival, and was completely taken aback by the unexpected wonderful birthday gifts of champagne, a fruit basket, and a personalised cupcake that were neatly laid out on the coffee table.
As we were settling into our room, I noticed our reservation email confirmed that we were due to stay in The Coke Suite, not the William and Mary we were currently staying in so I politely enquired to reception the reasons behind the change of room. It turned out that The Coke Suite was currently being repainted and therefore, not accessible to us but as an apology for the inconvenience, my in house PR contact Nick Downie kindly upgraded us to one of their executive and bridal suites, The Pennsylvania Suite.
The Pennsylvania Suite
The room oozed sophistication, elegance and luxury the moment we entered and was extremely spacious. Like The Coke Suite, the Pennsylvania Suite had its own private terrace overlooking the golf course, a magnificent four-poster bed and leather at the foot of the bed couch. Now I do love a good bathroom but this ladies and gents was unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Heated Marble flooring set the tone as you entered the bathroom and was greeted with a separate dressing table. To the left were two separate sinks with complimentary toiletries to hand, a toilet, wash basin and separate walk-in shower. The deep sunken bath however was an absolutely beautiful sight to behold, and had to be accessed by walking up a few marble steps. I honestly couldn’t wait to emerge myself in this bath before bed. My chosen spa treatment was booked for 5 pm, so had just over an hour to relax with my partner and take in the wonderful surroundings The Pennsylvania Suite had to offer.
We were at the time completely oblivious to the history surrounding our new suite and were later informed by Nick Downie that the Pennsylvania Suite was named after the Penn family, who owned the Stoke Park estate in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Thomas Penn, son of William Penn (who founded Pennsylvania) purchased the estate in 1760 and pretty much governed his lands in the USA from Stoke Park over the next 15 years. In 1775, the estate was inherited by John Penn who is responsible for much of what you see at Stoke Park today, including the Mansion.
The famous ‘mini break’ and rowing scenes from hit blockbuster movie Bridget Jones’s Diary featuring Hugh Grant, Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth were filmed in the Great Hall, Lakes and The Pennsylvania Suite of Stoke Park.
The famous scene from Goldfinger (1964), the game of golf between villain Auric Goldfinger and Sean Connery, was shot from underneath our balcony.
I made the short walk from the mansion across the car park to the The Pavilion Hotel, home to the country clubs award-winning spa, 13 multi-surface tennis courts and state-of-the-art gymnasium.
Now I am usually used to large changing rooms with masses of people getting ready but really liked the intimate and secluded setting this changing room had to offer. As this room is strictly for those about to undergo a spa treatment, it was completely separate from the main changing rooms but loved the tranquillity of it and recall bumping into just two people whilst using this facility.
Jewellery and clothes stored away I made the short walk down the hallways and through a set of double doors into the Spa Lounge area.
The stunning five-metre tropical aquarium made for a wonderful addition and I found myself in a state of pure relaxation as I watched the tropical fishes swim around in their element.
A total of five minutes must have passed before my beauty therapist Shantel came in to greet me. She offered me a glass of chilled water before we made our way through another set of doors and into the treatment areas.
The room was dimmed with numerous candles set around and after answering a few standard health questions I was instructed to remove my gown, change into some disposal underwear and lie on the treatment bed on my front. The list of treatments to choose from prior to my stay was overwhelmingly intensive and after much pondering (I am always indecisive if given too much choice) I ultimately decided to try something completely new and opted for a Thalgo Algae Wrap. I am no stranger to algae and seaweed as I regularly consume superfood beverages in the form of spirulina and chlorella, so was intrigued to see how this marine seaweed could be used as a form of beauty and skincare treatment.
Lying comfortably on my front, Shantel began the treatment by applying the Thalgo descomask Scrub to both of my ankles and working her way up each limb and muscle group before repeating the process once I had carefully turned myself onto my back. This gently helps to remove dead skin cells and leaves the skin feeling supple and silky smooth and despite it being an ex-foliating cream, the texture wasn’t as grainy as some scrubs I have used at home previously.
Turning back around on my front, Thalgo Plasma lg Gel was then applied onto of the descomask scrub which Shantel explained is the perfect preparation for a marine bath as it helps aid total absorption of the rich nutrients when the actual algae is later applied. She repeated the process of applying the gel on my front before my body was ready to be slathered head to toe in Micronised Marine Algae.
This made for an interesting experience as the marine algae was fairly warm upon contact with my skin and heated towels were also used to complete the body the wrap. At this stage, a head massage and algae would have been applied to my face but as I had my haircut and styled the same morning, I was a bit reluctant to have Shantel massage my head. She understood this completely and offered to give me a foot massage whilst the algae rich in vitamins and minerals set to work in relieving muscular fatigue and poor circulation.
Shantel began applying pressure to my feet using her skilled fingers and I was in a state of deep relaxation by this point. As we talked about work and life in general, I couldn’t help but notice and feel certain parts of my body twinge after applying pressure to points on my foot. Sasha began to explain that our feet connects to our entire body known as Reflexology. I had heard about this term and spiritual treatment before, but never pursued to research further until that point when I felt my shoulders and lats crunch as she massaged an area just under my big toe. This left me intrigued as we spoke further about this discipline.
After what felt like 20 minutes I was advised to wash off the algae in the shower within my treatment room whilst Shantel prepared the treatment bed for the last phase of my 55 minute complimentary treatment. The algae came off relatively easy but the harder to reach areas such as my back proved a bit of a struggle. After bending my body into different angles I managed to get the algae off my back without the assistance of my therapist and once towel dried, resumed my position on the treatment bed where Shantel massaged a combination of Thalgo Soft Hydrating Emulsion containing wheat germ oil to nourish and hydrate and Thalgo Intensive Nutrition Cream containing mirual algae and vitamin e to treat extremely dry skin. I was felt deeply relaxed and satisfied with my overall treatment and would like to personally thank Shantel for an amazing experience.
Our dinner reservation was at 8 pm in the mansion at Humphrey’s Fine Dining Restaurant which has won 3 AA Rosettes over the years. Upon entering one could not help but admire the spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows and décor. We were placed in a lovely intimate corner towards the end of the room near the kitchen area. We pondered over our three course fine dining A La Carte menu and to our surprise were presented with canapés before we had even placed our order. It did become a little awkward and overwhelming at times to turn down more offerings only to be approached by another member of staff with the same gesture a few seconds later. Despite this minor critique, the staff that served us that evening were extremely friendly, always wore a smile and the overall service was exceptional.
Now going back to the topic of food, the Starters we opted for were Cumin Pan-fried Scallops with Sticky Chicken Wing, Cauliflower Puree and Raisin Compote. The Scallops were simply divine and secretly wished that there were more than three on my plate! The Cauliflower Purée and Raisin Compote was a surprising hit and despite its odd pairing the flavours really worked well together. The Sticky Chicken Wing however was totally different to how I had imagined it to be (a lot smaller than what I am used to) but tasty nonetheless.
For our Main Course, we both had Roasted Breast of Duck, Textures of Beetroot, Duck Leg Cylinder, Violet Potato Croquette and Spiced Duck Jus which was a joy to eat despite my pallet being overly fussy when it comes to anything Beetroot. We had our duck medium to rare (a first for me) and must say it was incredibly tender and flavourful.
Our main courses consumed we took a brief break from eating and talked over a few wonderful mocktails. We were given the dessert menu but needed little than a few seconds to decide what we wanted.
Bitter Chocolate Box with Chocolate and Caramel Mouse, Frangelico Gel, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Hazelnut Tuille and Hot Caramel Sauce, absolutely divine!
We retreated to our room both full and satisfied.
The following morning after our delightful breakfast in the comfort of our suite, we were given a fabulous tour of the entire grounds by the wonderful Nick Downie.
He gave us a full run down of the history of the estate including the links to Elizabeth I and Charles I, also the penchant of the current owners to invest in art. He showed us a wonderful Van Dyck of Charles II and his siblings, my partner noticed that it was incredibly similar to the more well known Van Dyke of Charles I’s children with the Spaniel.
My partner and I had the most amazing overnight stay experience and would like to personally thank my in house pr contact Nick Downie, my spa therapist Shantel and to the many staff we came into contact with throughout the duration of our stay, you all made my extended 30th Birthday celebrations a truly memorable one.
The hospitality and overall service was second to none and a visit to this stunning country hotel comes highly recommended! Unfortunately I didn’t get the time to visit their state of the art gym, but you can bet I’ll be back to put their Star Trac equipment, The Running Unlimited immersive pod AND stair master through their paces.
Should you perhaps be interested in visiting Stoke Park Country Club And Spa yourself after reading this article, the numerous packages this country hotel has to offer can be found online by visiting Stoke Park website, Stoke Park Facebook or by simply following them on Twitter.
Photo Credits: All photographs within this article belong to Anthony Francis Slowley.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post nor has any money been exchanged. The visit to this venue was complementary in exchange for a review. All opinions shared within this article are honest and entirely my own.