As a luxury travel mincer (aka writer), I regularly mince about various hotels and resorts in the UK and around the world. Whilst I have had the pleasure of staying in the most luxurious places in various corners of the globe, I have to admit that Stoke Park may just be my very favourite of them all.
This is partly because it was where I took my late mother for a Mother’s Day treat, and was the first mini break destination with the love of my life. But this is also the case due to its pure, unrivalled magnificence – not a word I tend to use lightly.
One aspect of a hotel which makes it magnificent in my opinion, is its history, and Stoke Park certainly has plenty of it. Designed by the renowned architect James Wyatt in 1788, the estate dates back to 1066 – the time of the Doomsday Book. In 1581 it had to be sold to the crown to pay the debts of Henry Hastings – the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, who’s father Francis, the Commander in Chief of Henry VIII’s army had rebuilt the Manor House, which can still be seen today.
Listed Grade II on the prestigious Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, Stoke Park estate was used as a private residence until 1908, when Nick “Pa” Lane Johnson purchased the estate and transformed it into the UK’s first country club. He hired the esteemed golf course architect Harry Colt to design the estate’s famous 27 hole championship golf course – beloved by many an avid golfer today.
Stoke Park’s regal exterior exudes pure, unashamed splendour and its 300 acres of emerald green grounds provide that much needed escapism city dwellers like myself so often crave.
It’s not surprising that many blockbuster films have been filmed in this pleasing-to-the-eye country estate, including Wimbledon, Bride and Prejudice, Goldfinger and the infamous “mini break” scenes from Bridget Jones Diary.
Residing in leafy Buckinghamshire and just 35 minutes from London, this grandiose 5 AA Red Star hotel, country club and spa features 49 opulent bedrooms and suites – all of which boast lavish marble bathrooms.
There are also three restaurants, a 4,000 square foot super gym, spinning, hot yoga and fitness studios, award winning spa, nail bar, elegant private function rooms, activity-packed kids club and a whopping 13 tennis counts – both indoor and outdoor.
Not only does Stoke Park host numerous golf tournaments, it is also famed for its tennis events, in particular the glitzy Boodles tournament. Showcasing tennis stars for 5 days of competition on manicured lawns watched by over 1900 fans, this highlight of the British social calendar is hosted by the hotel every year, the week before Wimbledon.
With so much glorious pomp and decadence surrounding this precious luxury space, I was delighted to visit for the third time recently with my girlfriend. We stayed at the stately Coke Suite, which I discovered was named after Sir Edward Coke – a former owner of the estate.
The first thing I noticed after walking into the palatial bedroom was the antique four poster bed draped in plush bedlinen being almost illuminated by an oversized chandelier of an extremely fabulous nature.
The spacious marble bathroom housed a powerful shower and separate deep bathtub, which seemed to beckon me for a long, lazy soak before dinner. Fluffy bathrobes hung from the door and cozy white slippers awaited our weary feet on the pristine floor.
After a glass of champagne (a nice touch Stoke Park) on our impressively large balcony overlooking the estate’s historical gardens and lake, we made our way down to dinner at the award-wining 3 AA Rosettes fine dining restaurant, Humphreys.
Sophisticated vases of ornate flowers and majestic floor-to-ceiling windows give this chic dining space a pleasing touch of timeless glamour, but it is the food which really enchants even the fussiest diners.
Head chef Chris Wheeler impressed us yet again with his flavoursome culinary masterpieces, each dish most impressive than the last. Starters played homage to the sea and included dishes such as the pan seared scallops with tempura roe and pickled radish, and marinated mackerel perched on a bed of fennel salad – both exquisite in presentation and taste.
My hearty main was a meal fit for a culinary-minded death row inmate’s last supper. A hefty slab of Brookfield Farm beef filet was accompanied perfectly with a pillowy mound of fragrant truffle mash, shallot puree beef cheek, al dente baby turnips, piquant ratatouille and bone marrow crumb – a true flavour powerhouse.
We were far too fed and watered to face any puddings but in the honourable name of investigative fine dining journalism we ploughed ahead, ordering a delightful dark chocolate brownie topped with a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream. A joyous cheeseboard may also have been devoured, but due to the glasses of fine wine savoured and resulting food coma once back at our suite, it is a somewhat hazy recollection.
After a restful sleep on plump pillows, we woke to a full English breakfast in bed with extra pancakes and fresh fruit – a morning feast fit for royalty and picky foodies like ourselves.
We took a stroll around the scenic grounds before spending the rest of the day making the most of Stoke Park’s spa and fitness facilities. All the stresses of my hectic urban life seemed to dissolve after my soul-soothing aromatherapy massage and lengthly soak in the spacious open air jacuzzi.
After a few rounds of tennis, a very zen yoga nidra session and a sprightly swim in Stoke Park’s heated indoor swimming pool, it was time to get ready to coax ourselves away from this enchanting country haven. Plentiful coaxing was needed.
Stoke Park you truly were a pleasure. Until next time…
Stoke Park has recently launched a special Gin and Tonic afternoon tea with G&T served out of a speciality teapot, sandwiches filled with temping fillings such as gin cured smoked salmon and gin prawn Marie Rose.
A varied selection of cakes and pastries include the Lemon, Lime and Gin Curd fruit tart by the hotel’s award winning executive chef Chris Wheeler – perfect with a cup of hot juniper berry, gin and rosemary infused black tea.
For more details on the afternoon tea or to book a room call 01753 71 71 72 or email firstname.lastname@example.org