Stay Here: Stoke Park, BuckinghamshireBy Emily Cole
The charm of this exquisite five star hotel is that, with all its luxuries, at its core is a rich heritage – offering the very best of the quintessential English country break. And you may have a sense that you have been here before; with Bridget Jones as she is suckered into falling for Daniel Cleaver, or alongside James Bond as he earnestly drinks Martinis and safeguards Britain one golf swing at a time.
It’s no surprise some of the great British classics were filmed here. At the heart of Buckinghamshire’s green belt, Stoke Park offers sequestered gardens and lakes within 300 acres of its majestic grounds; a spa, fine dining and all the trappings that come with an exclusive members club, including a 27 hole championship golf course and Wimbledon worthy tennis courts. For Londoners, this is the perfect escape, as with a 35 minute drive from central london, or a 30 minute direct train from Paddington to Slough, and a quick ten minute taxi from there, a verdant, palatial world awaits.
Stoke Park: The Rooms
Half of the bedrooms are housed in the contemporary Pavilion, with easy access to its tennis and health facilities, and the other half are located in the Mansion, a grand, Georgian building. Both capitalise on the magnificent views over the estate’s parkland. I opted for the latter: elegance ran from the plush reception rooms, up its majestic sweeping staircase and into my room – a haven of rich fabrics and solid wood furniture with a crackling open fireplace, plush divan and the classic, (yet woefully underused on my part) writing desk overlooking the breathtaking viridescent grounds. I was also excited to note the enticing roll-top bath poised atop the expansive bathroom marble floor. Who doesn’t love a roll-top bath?
Stoke Park: The Spa
The spa is housed in the Pavilion, the reception sporting an art deco feel. The sauna and large outdoor jacuzzi are in the spa’s gardens, with the imposing building as the backdrop. And the indoor pool, with its lofty spectral blue ceiling and large full length windows overlooking the gardens, offers the best of both worlds. I awaited my treatment in the ethereal private atrium; an experience in itself, with luxury soft furnishings and a lavish tropical aquarium spanning the length of the wall and the backdrop to the refreshments table. For ultimate decadence, go for the THALGO Marine Wellbeing Massage, an exquisite blend of Shiatsu and Swedish massage alongside ocean-reflecting movements. Or, to really get into those muscles, another good option is the Lava Rescue Massage which uses warm lava shells in a deep tissue massage, paired with cool glacial shells to reduce inflammation: pure heaven, and good enough to get rid of those London knots.
Stoke Park: The Food
The hotel’s Humphry’s fine dining restaurant has won 3 AA Rosettes and its menu, which features genuinely innovative modern British cuisine, is a real page turner. I lingered in this phase of the dining experience longer than I normally would (health warning: too many tantalising options can be anxiety provoking).
Eventually, after enjoying proffered appretives, I opted for the curried scallops with roast cauliflower puree – a combo made in heaven, the scallops were perfectly cooked and almost translucent, while the earthy cauliflower added depth to the delicate scallops.
Next up, I recommend the halibut, served alongside miso-glazed octopus, parmesan gnocchi and kohlrabi – this dish was punchy, and the flavours bold. I’m salivating just typing about it – salty miso and parmesan set against pearly white fish and slightly sweet kohlrabi – this dish was a triumph and I’d eat it every day until I died if I could. For dessert, you need to order the mocha souffle. Souffles are lovely delicate things which, when done well, almost dissolve on your tongue as soon as it lands there, like a gorgeous memory you wonder about ever having happened at all. Much like a stay at Stoke Park, in fact…
For more information on Stoke Park, see here.
Photo Credit: Stoke Park
Stoke Park, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire SL2 4PG