Short stay: Ettington Park Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK
By Michael Edwards on Jun 10, 2021, in Accommodation, Europe, Food and drink, Outings, Hotels, Regions, Restaurants, Travel Miscellaneous, United Kingdom, Western Europe.
Ettington Park Hotel is a grand stately house steeped in history, built on an epic scale in 40 majestic acres of Warwickshire countryside, on the banks of the River Stour.
A long tree-lined road allows guests arriving by car to glimpse the towers and turrets of a country house now maintained by Handpicked Hotels. Alternatively, you can fly over the treeline to land on the helipad.
A Roman villa may have once stood on this site, followed by a succession of houses. Then in 1858, Evelyn Shirley commissioned architect Charles Pritchard to implement major improvements. Five years later, a neo-Gothic-style house, defended by Augustus Pugin, was completed.
It is a large entrance through a porch designed for horse-drawn carriages. Next is an expansive vaulted veranda, hopefully soon stocked with rubber boots for walks once Covid regulations are relaxed. Finally, you arrive at a reception surrounded by carved white alabaster pillars.
The service is friendly and personalized. Guests are taken to the elevator by the receptionist and then to their rooms, essential as Ettington Park has invented its idiosyncratic numbering system. Eccentrically, room 3 is adjacent to room 45.
Why have a room when you can have a suite? The suites are extremely luxurious with their high ceilings, stone fireplaces, and chandeliers. Our fireplace even has a motto, “I am loyal,” which runs just below the lintel.
Solid dark wood furniture and period artwork give a feeling of time travel to the Victorian era. The Victorian Garden Suite, decorated with a palette of soothing greens, is a family portrait of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and the children. Dogs seem especially happy with the ducks and pheasants they’ve collected during a good day of sport.
A large Venetian four-poster bed contributes to the feeling of luxury.
While there is sparkling steamboat-style plumbing at the head of the tub, it’s distinctly 21st century with a wall-mounted TV above and a waterproof remote.
Enter the bathroom, and motion sensors illuminate the low-level lights. Although the enormous dimensions are 19th century aristocratic, the technology, including a rain shower, is very contemporary.
The Grand Drawing Room, approaching the size of a gym, is a grand setting for coffee, afternoon tea, and aperitifs, among chandeliers and expansive portraits.
The history of the Shirley family is recorded in the Oak Room Restaurant, where heraldic emblems on the dark paneling celebrate the family’s marriage alliances over the centuries.
A two AA Rosette menu, in a modern British style, features premium, locally sourced ingredients. A Cotswold Gin Dried Trout starter with cucumber in a tonic water sauce is the essence of a British summer. A range of Herefordshire port-glazed steaks and short ribs also demonstrate respect for British traditions.
An imaginative chocolate and beet slice dessert with a beetroot sorbet is a creative success based on a raspberry coulis bringing depth and surprising sweetness to the flavors.
For special celebrations, the hotel offers a private dinner, catering from an intimate 14 in the 19e from the chapel with the stained glass windows of the century until the 96 in the long gallery, which extends over the entire length of the second floor.
When the weather is nice, there is no better place than the Ettington Park Terrace to dine al fresco and admire the view across the lawns to the River Stour.
Just 6 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, the Ettington Park Hotel is an ideal base for visiting Shakespeare County.
Other Nice Touches
Ask reception for a map of the land, and they will produce a leaflet that will guide you around the historic limestone mines, along the riverbank, and to the ruins of the church. The kitchens can also prepare picnic baskets.
The reception will also imprint the history of the Ettington Park site, which served as a prisoner of war camp for captured Italian soldiers during World War II.
The story ends with a summary of the ghostly events of a retired night manager. Although the AA officially classifies Ettington Park Hotel as “Britain’s most haunted house,” the Night Manager reassuringly asserts that none of the apparitions have any malicious tendencies.
Rooms, including breakfast, start at around £ 275 per night.
Comfortable lounge chairs surround a warm indoor pool with a shallow children’s section.
This sympathetic, light-infused contemporary addition to the original home also features a sauna and steam room.
The Final Verdict
A very special opportunity to enjoy a few days of luxurious aristocratic living in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside. Although Stratford-upon-Avon is close, most guests enjoy strolling around the grounds and taking their time with leisurely meals, especially al fresco, in stunningly beautiful surroundings.