Hotel Review: Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire: Britain’s most iconic 5-star hotel?
Used as a film set, host to some leading sporting events and a five star hotel in itself, Stoke Park is an iconic luxury among hotels and country clubs and is a force to be reckoned with.
Although not just a hotel; the estate is home to three restaurants, a swimming pool, health and beauty spa, a 27 hole golf course, tennis courts, bars, lounges and more. Plenty to do then, so where to begin?
Upon arrival I was a little too early to check in to my room so I dropped off my luggage and took myself off for a walk around some of the 14 acres of glorious gardens. As a fan of the big screen I took in some of the sights that have appeared on the silver screen, including the lake used in the rowing scenes in Bridget Jones’s Diary, the mansion’s front steps where the dramatic conclusion of Layer Cake was filmed and the golf course where Sean Connery’s James Bond battled on the course against Gert Frobe’s Goldfinger. Other films that have been shot here include Wimbledon, W.E and Tomorrow Never Dies. Anyway, back to reality, and up to my suite where I was kindly greeted with a fruit basket, a bottle of delicious fizzyness and some handmade Humphry’s chocolates – thanks!
While indulging in some treats I admired the stunning view of the grounds from my window and marvelled at just how grand the estate is. I think you would have to stay for a week to fully appreciate all it has to offer.
My home for the night was much like the rest of the hotel; classically designed with luxurious soft furnishings exuding elegance and style. Perhaps the room was styled a little old fashioned for some but not everything has to be modern and sleek and it reflects the classic style and charm of the hotel. The main building where I was based (The Mansion) holds the individually designed rooms, which contain fine art, priceless antiques and marble bathrooms. If you would rather stay in a more contemporary styled room, The Pavilion’s bedrooms and suites, which were opened in 2008, offer just this and come with adjustable mood lighting and under floor heating in the marble bathrooms.
I am not a golfer or tennis player but if you are, Stoke Park is the place to be. The 27 hole championship golf course was designed in 1908 by Harry Colt and sits among the 300 acre estate. Residents can make use of the golfing facilities, which include an indoor swing studio, grass and all weather driving range and short game practice areas.
Tennis lovers may already know that Stoke Park is host to The Boodles tournament, an annual event that has been held every June since 2002 and has included some famous faces. What you may not know is there are 13 tennis courts consisting of six Wimbledon specific grass courts, four all weather courts and three indoor carpet courts, all available for residents to use.
The leisure facilities don’t stop there, if you fancy some fitness during your stay you won’t be disappointed with the options. The fitness studio is host to some 25 different classes form circuit training to salsa to Vinyasa yoga and there is a 4,000 square foot gym on site. Even writing this sounds like a little too much exertion for me so, during my stay, I happily skipped along to the spa to enjoy a full body massage and afternoon of pure indulgence and relaxation aided by the serene relaxation room.
Legoland sits nearby and for families and children, the hotel offers a crèche, playground, appointed swimming times, a games room, golf and tennis camps and in room babysitting.
Feeling fully relaxed and rejuvenated, I returned to my suite to spruce up for dinner at the AA rosette holding restaurant, Humphry’s. Headed up by Chris Wheeler, who has worked with Jean-Christophe Novelli and has appeared with him on TV’s Hells Kitchen, the dining experience offers fantastic service and tasty cuisine made from ingredients that are local, fresh and seasonal. Aside from dining at Humphry’s, there is also The Orangery where breakfast, light meals and afternoon tea can be enjoyed with stunning views, and San Marco, which offers classic Italian dishes, a children’s menu and an array of smoothies to be enjoyed in a relaxing setting.
After dinner I made my way up the grand staircase to enjoy a restful night’s sleep in my large bed before enjoying a delightful eggs Florentine in The Orangery the next morning – officially my new favourite way to enjoy eggs!
I sadly waved goodbye to the hotel wishing I had had more time to enjoy everything on offer (well, you know, not the overly physical stuff!) Nearby Windsor greeted me with sunshine however and it brightened my day.
Stoke Park has an exciting and rich history dating back to over 900 years (the hotel was founded in 1908) and has seen many established and famous faces make their mark on what stands today. It is an estate to be enjoyed and celebrated and my visit will stay with me for a long time. Perhaps the next time I visit, Daniel Craig will be filming scenes for the latest Bond movie – a girl can dream!
In a nutshell
A grand estate with a classic and elegant feel. The spa and relaxation room is a must and food is very good but a place like this deserves a Michelin star restaurant.
Suites start at £470 per night, for reservations call 01753 717172 or visit www.stokepark.com.