Hotel Review: Mallory Court Hotel, Leamington Spa in Warwickshire
Set in 10 acres of beautiful, sprawling grounds, Mallory Court is the epitome of a quintessential English country house hotel – and the matriarch of the esteemed Eden Hotel Collection. Boasting 31 spacious rooms, many of which overlook a striking maze garden at the back of the building, it is an elegant rural hideaway that is located just a stone’s throw from Leamington Spa and the historical county town of Warwick – making it the perfect base from which to explore this beautiful area of the Cotswolds.
One of the top 200 hotels in the country, and a long standing member of the revered Relais and Châteaux group, Mallory Court is a successful juxtaposition of the old with the new, with the authentic grand Lutyens-style main house and fine dining restaurant The Dining Room – which boasts a well-deserved 3 AA Rosettes for its classic yet innovative cuisine thanks to head chef Paul Foster – with the art-deco inspired Brasserie and the elegant event facilities of the Knights Suite.
It’s a blustery day in late January when we arrive at the Mallory, and as we pull into the grand driveway area, we are taken aback by the imposingly beautiful, Pyracantha-covered manor house that beckons.
We are welcomed enthusiastically at reception, and promptly shown to our room – a large suite located at the back of the building, consisting of a main bedroom as well as an adjoining single room. Somewhat dated in terms of the decor, the colour palette is an uninspiring mix of terracotta and beige – certainly in-keeping with the country house theme, but I must admit, I was expecting something a little more regal. Not, I might add, because of my own taste, but merely because it is what I have come to expect of an impressive and beautiful country house such as this.
Decor aside, however, we are extremely well accommodated in our spacious suite, which boasts a comfortable king-size bed and not one, not two, but a whopping three separate bathrooms. Suffice it to say, it makes getting ready a breeze, with not a moment’s worry to be had about getting in anybody else’s way. There are only two of us staying on this occasion, but the suite could easily house a small family, with plenty of spaces to sit down and relax or unwind in the bath while your companions get ready in front of the mirror or read next to the window in a comfortable rocking chair.
The view from the window is simply stunning – a well-maintained and perfectly pruned maze garden below stretches out into acres of lush, green countryside beyond – the rose garden and croquet lawn, no doubt, are located somewhere nearby. We sit down for a moment at the well-positioned table and to take it all in, as we also take advantage of the complementary bottles of water that have been left for us, thirsty from a long morning wandering around nearby Stratford-upon-Avon (Prior to our arrival at the Mallory, we had spent a wonderful night at nearby sister hotel The Arden.) There are other refreshments, too – a dish of both fresh and dried fruits, some biscuits and a bottle of cordial – but we refrain from snacking, as we are keen to head downstairs and sample the Mallory’s highly-regarded afternoon tea.
As we are shown into the cosy lounge area, we settle gladly into a pair of welcoming armchairs in front of a roaring open fire. It’s a cold day in Leamington Spa, and it’s a very welcome sight. We are recommended an English sparkling wine to accompany our afternoon tea instead of the traditional champagne – the hotel is keen to support British businesses, and won over, we accept.
The lounge is a plethora of plush creams and navy blues, with opulent, regal-looking furniture and floral fabrics making for an elegant setting in which to relax and wile away an afternoon. Accented with tall bookshelves lined with row upon row of colour-coded books, it’s an authentic country house experience at its best.
The afternoon tea arrives, with three tiers of sheer deliciousness awaitng us, from warm, crumbly scones that taste fresh from the oven, to a selction of mouthwatering cakes, desserts and finger sandwiches. There are crusty open rolls topped with piles of smoked salmon and lashings of cream cheese, and sandwiches with traditional fillings of cucumber, cheese and pickle and ham and mustard. We hungrily make our way through them, taking care to leave room for dessert – the amount of food is more than enough for four, but we are keen to have a taste of each and every offering. Next, it’s gooey, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate brownies, sticky banana bread and tiny jars of caramelised rhubarb and custard – all utterly delicious, and expertly baked and compiled. The anomoly of the experience is an unusual take on the cream puff – what look like small profiteroles spark a debate when the filling proves unidentifiable. An unusual taste that seems to be a mixture of passion fruit and cheese is revealed by our server as sea buckthorn – the orange berries of a Eurasian shrub that typically grows on sandy coasts. An acquired taste, we are told – and at this point, we have to agree. Despite priding ourselves on having reasonably advanced palates, neither of us are quite convinced (but after a second encounter at dinner later that day, we are surprised to find ourselves converted).
Later that afternoon, we venture outside for a wander around the lush, green grounds. The air is crisp, and though it is a little cold for a walk, it is a peaceful and tranquil way to unwind (and burn off a few of those calories!). Though there is not much to do in the immediate vicinity of the hotel, the gardens more than make up for it – after all, isn’t the whole point of a country house retreat to switch off, and to get away from the stresses and strains of modern life?
On our way back inside, order a bottle of Pinot Noir to enjoy along with a relaxing afternoon getting lost in a good book, back in our suite.
Dinner is in The Dining Room that evening, and we are looking forward to sampling some of head chef Paul Foster’s beautiful creations as part of his seven course tasting menu. Before we are seated, we head down for a pre-dinner drink, which is served in the lobby area just across from reception. Like the lounge, it is centred around a crackling open fire, and with plenty of luxurious seating to recline on, it is the perfect place to enjoy a margarita. Drinks prices are steep in this hotel, and you can expect to pay around £15 for a cocktail – but it’s the price you pay for the peace and tranquility that just doesn’t exist when you’re staying close to the hustle and bustle of other bars and restaurants.
Dinner is a fabulous experience. The menu is based around locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, and Foster has placed an intriguing focus on texture in each of his dishes. Most courses feature several variations of one particular ingredient, cooked and served in vastly different ways – so much so that we have fun trying to identify which ones they are, adding an air of entertainment to the seamless flow of the evening. The service is impeccable – our waitress knows her dishes inside out, with each course arriving promptly and our wine and water glasses kept well topped-up at all times – while The Dining Room provides an elegant and ambient setting for the evening’s proceedings. Every dish is beautifully presented, and each is a memorable sensory experience that is packed with an array of incredible flavour combinations – a restaurant well-deserving of its 3 AA Rosettes, and more.
We end the evening happy and full of food, and after one last drink back out in the lobby, it is time to turn in for the night. Weary from a busy day, the king-size bed is an incredibly appealing sight, and we settle in for a restful and comfortable night’s sleep.
In the morning, breakfast is again served in the Dining Room, with an A La Carte menu offering up a selection of delicious-sounding cooked and continental breakfasts. We both opt for the Mallory Full English breakfast, which comes – as one would expect – beautifully presented, and consisting of grilled tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms, black pudding and a hash brown, all topped with a perfectly poached egg. The classic Brit in me did miss the baked beans – let’s be honest, it’s not quite the same without – but once again, the food was tasty and filling, and just what was needed to set us up for a day of exploring nearby Leamington Spa and Warwick.
Although the Mallory Court is set away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby town of Leamington Spa, the beauty of its location is the accessibility it offers to some of the most beautiful parts of Warwickshire. Leamington can be reached in just ten minutes by taxi, and is packed with shops, bars and restaurants, making for a great day’s shopping if you are so inclined. The town has an eclectic mix of independent retailers selling unique and interesting wares, as well as all the well-known brands offered by national chains, affording it a point of difference to any other town you might choose to visit. The entire area is dominated by beautiful, regency-style buildings, and the sweeping curve of its famous Crescent gives the town a regal, upmarket feel.
Even better, the picturesque county town of Warwick is reachable in barely a moment’s notice, with one merging into the other almost seamlessly. That said, you will know the moment you enter historical Warwick thanks to its stunning medieval castle – one of the main attractions for tourists visiting the area. The town of Warwick itself is even more endearing, with cobbled streets lined with authentic tudor-style houses dating back to the 1400s. In reality, it seems more like a village, and is packed with quaint little tea rooms and independent shops, oozing truly magical charm that is hard to find elsewhere.
Later that day, it’s time to head home – we are travelling on the CrossCountry Trains service to Plymouth, and after a relaxed journey up to Warwickshire at the start of our trip, we know that we’re in for a smooth ride. The First Class seating is so spacious and comfortable that it makes travelling by train a real pleasure – although daytime journeys are recommended, so that you can take in the beautiful surroundings of the countryside along the way.
In a nutshell:
The epitome of a quintessential English country house set in the heart of beautiful Warwickshire, the Mallory Court is the perfect hideaway for those looking to get away from it all while soaking up some local history and culture in the process. Expect to be extremely well looked after at this opulent establishment – and be sure to pop into the Dining Room for dinner, as Paul Foster’s creations really are the star of the show.
Address: Mallory Court Hotel, Harbury Ln, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV33 9QB