It’s pretty clear that one has landed at the perfect backdrop for a fairy-tale novel when they’ve spent a good few minutes driving along an immaculate driveway with pristine fences and sweeps of grazing land. But when this narrows and becomes a towering tree-lined avenue concealing everything from sight except for an ostentatious turret, they know for certain that this place is brimming with magical opportunities.
This tower, with its many layers of symmetrical crenulations, grand arched windows, and an oak doorway that’s easily over 15 feet tall, is only a fragment of Studley Castle Hotel. The rest of its façade and interior spaces, as well as its plethora of activities like archery, spa treatments and afternoon tea, easily makes guests feel a part of its fairy-tale narrative.
Like any castle, Studley Castle has a lengthy history; but, unlike most, its background has an incredibly strong female narrative. This Grade II* listed building was built in 1836 for the high sheriff of Warwickshire, Francis Lyttleton Holyoake. He enlisted Samuel Beazley, a famed theatre architect, to create the castle in the Gothic Revival style. This explains why the hotel looks as if it belongs on the stage.
However, jump forward to 1903 to when the castle became the place for some extraordinary women. In this year, Lady Warwick turned the house into the Studley Agricultural College for Women to give the local gentry’s daughters a chance to acquire horticultural training. Then, during the World Wars, it become a training camp for the Women’s Land Army. This history is celebrated throughout the hotel with pictures from the time hanging on walls.
This is not to say that the hotel focuses only on its history. It’s rather the opposite, with acute attention to detail having been given to the needs and desires appropriate for an adult-only hotel.
In keeping with the Warner Leisure Hotels’ brand, everything within the castle is uniquely tethered to providing each guest with a personalised experience. This might include a one-to-one consultation with a masseuse who personalises your massage to suit your body. Or from the chef creating your afternoon tea who caters to your specific preferences. The décor is also matchless, with its rather whimsical aesthetic, taking inspiration from Alice in Wonderland. Make sure to look out for the many clocks, teacups, unicorn heads, and rabbits!
The rooms likewise feel as if they’ve been curated for optimum comfort. With over 200 bedrooms, there’s a host of different styles one can opt for, from historic suites in the Victorian building to modern rooms in the manor’s former lodge and stables.
In the Studley Wing, there are spacious rooms with thick balconies overlooking the Warwickshire’s countryside. There’s a floor-to-ceiling glass door bridging this outdoor space with the indoors, bringing guests to a light and airy colour scheme of blue, green, and cream that’s spread across the king-size beds, comfortable seating area, and wallpaper. Each room has a plasma TV with a channel providing information about the night’s entertainment, and there’s a palatial-size bathroom.
Of the 200 rooms, only 24 are within the original castle. These are large rooms with a separate lounge and period features that’ll have any history lover weeping for joy. This is where you need to stay if you’d like to sleep within one of the turrets and, what’s more, some rooms have roll-top baths. However, if proximity to the spa is important to you, then the stable rooms – situated in the 19th-century riding stables – is perfect for you. The pool, loungers, sauna, and treatment rooms are only a stone’s throw away.
The culinary experience at Studley Castle deserves a gold star. As one would expect of such a large hotel, the castle has several dining options, and of note is the decadent afternoon tea service in The Oak Room. For any guests with allergies, rest assured the chefs here are more than willing to prepare fresh scones, sandwiches, and cakes to meet any dietary requirements. The roast beef sandwich with hummus and roasted tomatoes, and the egg mayonnaise sandwich with shallots and watercress are mouth-wateringly good and should be tried.
Handpicked teas with cakes can also be served in the tranquil Garden Room, and with its grand piano, pink feathers, and flamingo wallpaper, there’s a definite speakeasy vibe to this experience. Alternatively, The Hideaway is the castle’s most secret lounge and is ideal for a quiet board game competition.
Other options include the Brasserie32, with a menu championing British recipes. Alternatively, the Evesham Restaurant showcases seasonal and local produce and each night there’s a different theme. For example, Monday focuses on the tastes of Britain, featuring cottage pie and bangers and mash, while Tuesday allows guests to discover the taste of India with their chicken tikka masala or Keralan curries.
Each night, guests can also opt for the roast of the day, or classic mains like the slow-cooked pressed shin and brisket of beef served with dumplings, braised vegetables, thyme, and red wine sauce. Breakfast in the Evesham Restaurant is equally fantastic, with a wide range of options, from a full English, continental selections, or pancakes, all of which are made to order.
The Stables Spa is the ideal location for anyone who wants to spend the day resting as its sleek pool and jacuzzi are bordered with many sun loungers, the sauna, and steam rooms. The four treatment rooms have low-lit lamps, vases of flowers, candles, sweet aromas, and gentle music, all of which could send you into a blissful stupor even before their massage or facial had begun! Focused on relaxation and rejuvenation, the therapies target your specific body ailment, like the Temple Spa Drift Away neck and back massage.
For an adult’s-only hotel, there’s a plethora of activities that’ll awaken your inner child, from archery, shooting, and crossbow lessons. For a more genteel time, one can partake in a game of boules, putting and croquet, or hire a bike to explore the estate’s 28 acres. The hotel has also partnered with walkingworld.com to provide guests with maps of local walking routes.
Since the spa is focused on healing the body, Studley Castle also has a gym and yoga or Pilates classes to allow your mind a moment of calm. These are certainly not the only activities inside the castle, one can go on a history tour of the building, spend an afternoon tasting gin, let their competitive side shine with a game of table tennis, or head to the Picture Lounge to watch movies like 1917, Love Actually, or Downton Abbey. Equally thrilling is the daily evening entertainment in the Evesham Restaurant, which has a stage for live music and headlining acts.
Most won’t want to leave the hotel since there is more than enough to keep them occupied. However, if a guest does want to breach the hotel’s boundaries, the towns of Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Kenilworth are nearby.
In a nutshell
Studley Castle has everything you could possibly need to survive a weekend away in Warwickshire. For those looking to indulge there’s plenty of scrumptious foods, the spa, and leisure facilities. In complete contrast, those who are active will also find no reason to complain with facilities like the gym, yoga, walking routes, archery, shooting, and an in-house cinema. What more could you want from a hotel?
A two-night break with dinner and bed and breakfast is from £179 per person.
Getting there – Studley Castle can be reached via the M42 and A435 or A35 depending on which direction you travel from. Wootton Wawen Railway Station is 5.9 miles away, or Redditch Railway Station is 6.5 miles away.
Address: Studley Castle, Hardwick Lane, Studley, nr Stratford-Upon-Avon, B80 7AJ
Phone: 0330 1359 579
Photography courtesy of Warner Leisure Hotels