Hotel Review: Cantley House Hotel in Wokingham, Berkshire
Leading food and travel writer Becky Armstrong travels to Wokingham in Berkshire to stay the night at the luxurious Cantley House Hotel.
Upon arrival, I spied a grand Victorian mansion, set on a backdrop of acres of beautiful, lush green parkland, with sweeping lawns occupying every corner. The hotel is spacious, comfortable and refined; with luxurious executive rooms and suites on offer, a stylish conference room and most noticeably, boasts an ideal backdrop for a blissful countryside wedding.
Part of the Bespoke hotels collection, Cantley house hotel is a spacious 36 bedroom Victorian Country House, taking pride in a two AA Rosette restaurant (Milton’s); which is said to be one of Wokinghams’ best kept culinary secrets, perfectly situated in the heart of the beautiful Berkshire parkland.
After a bit of research, I discovered the grand mansion was formerly the home of the ‘Marquis of Ormonde’, built back in 1880, and has been lovingly restored over the years maintaining many of its original architectural features. In 2001 The Clocktower wing, with architecture inspired by local Almshouses, was constructed adding 15 Executive rooms and suites.
Location; even though it appears to be embedded deep within acres of green parkland, it is unassumingly close, and accessible to the M4, with excellent railway links, creating easy access points to the busy commercial areas of Bracknell and Reading. Furthermore, London Waterloo is only a short train journey away, making Cantley House Hotel the perfect relaxing retreat for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of busy city life.
Set in its own private gardens, the hotel guarantees a peaceful setting for all guest. After a few moments exploring, it was clear to see why this hotel is such an idyllic location for a wedding.
The hotel boasts a 16th century converted barn, The Briar, with high ceilings and exposed beams complementing the hotel’s rustic elegance and atmosphere. The barn suitably overlooks the courtyard and would be the ideal spot for both indoor and outdoor weddings in the warmer months. Don’t let the prospect of bad weather steer you away from this venue, as the hotel promises crackling open fires in the winter, creating an enchanting ambience.
With impressive gardens and immaculate lawns occupying all 50 acres, the hotel provides ample space for an outdoor wedding.
Our food and drink experience
Dinner at Cantley House Hotel is served within the Miltons Restaurant, which has recently, in 2016, been awarded a 2 AA Rosette Award for Culinary Excellence.
The award-winning Miltons Restaurant is located within its own private courtyard among the beautiful grounds of the hotel and specialises in serving modern European food in a relaxed, and informal setting. The restaurant is housed within a converted 17th century barn – so you can enjoy your dining experience while admiring the characterful walls steeped in 17th century history.
When we visited, sadly it would have been too cold to enjoy our meal outside, however the gardens are an ideal spot to dine, you can enjoy your meal in peaceful surroundings of the private courtyard during the summer months; while the lantern-lit restaurant offers a stylish and cosy atmosphere with an open-log fire in the summer evenings and during winter.
The a la carte menu features seasonal dishes, which are all locally sourced, with an extensive international wine list to complement.
After carefully studying the food menu with our enviable seat next to the roaring log fire, me and my partner decided to share a starter. We choose beef cheek raviolis, black truffle mayonnaise, tarragon and wild mushroom spring roll. The beef cheek ravioli was rich and full of flavour and was perfectly complemented by the pungent, intense, earthy fragrance from the black truffle and wild mushroom.
For mains; pan roasted lamb cannon, mini shepards pie, roasted mixed vegetables with Marjoram, with a side order of extra chunky chips followed. The lamb was tasty and tender, and cooked to perfection. The mini shepards pie was a lovely little aside – rich and bold in texture and flavour, with homely notes.
For dessert – I caught sight of an old menu with macarons (my favourite!) – to my dismay they had provided us with a different menu, however our lovely waiter quickly disappeared and returned with a fresh selection of macarons especially for me – what a lovely touch.
Dessert was a lemon cheesecake, with raspberries and a black sesame ice-cream – a strange concept, yet deliciously heavy and gritty, yet all the while soothing on the palate.
Our executive bedroom was very spacious; we had a beautiful garden room located in the Clocktower wing, with door which led straight onto the peaceful gardens. The bathroom was impressively large and featured a huge sink (big enough for two), however my favourite feature, only discovered after dinner, were the heated floors – what a delight this was when returning to our room, after eagerly slipping off our socks and shoes.
Each room is individually designed and decorated by the Cantley House team and the furniture is thoughtfully chosen from local antique dealers and auctions, in all honesty I felt that the decor was lacking a little bit of a modern touch – but that is due down to my own personal taste. You can see the team are slowly moving their way through the hotel and improving the bedrooms and while doing so have decided to upgrade some of the larger rooms to the “Executive” category.
It was a very comfortable and enjoyable stay, breakfast the next morning was plentiful and was served in the award-winning Miltons restaurant – the same place we were seated for dinner. Staff were very attentive, with menu and table service offered, plus a spread of continental items such as cereals, granola, croissants, fruit juices and yoghurts were readily available to choose from while you await the arrival of your cooked breakfast.
In a nutshell
Cantley House Hotel is the perfect venue for countryside wedding. With ample grounds, soon to be in full summer bloom. Cantley House Hotel offers all the charm of a traditional country house hotel but only minutes away from the bustling town centres of Wokingham, Bracknell & Reading. For a special treat why not stay in the Clocktower wing in one of the 15 executive rooms and suites.
Address: Cantley House Hotel, Milton Road, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 5QG
Becky runs a blog called Rightupmystreet that documents her indulgent pursuits; with a passion for all things luxury, be that the latest stylish restaurant or cocktail haven, or a recent tale of her latest city-break or country retreats. Find Becky’s blog atwww.right-up-my-street.co.uk or alternatively on Twitter @Bekkiii_19
Blog Link: right-up-my-street.co.uk