- Fred Mawer, Destination expert
The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. Make sure you arrive via the main entrance and drive down the mile-long avenue of lime and beech trees. Bath is a 20 minutes' drive away, while Castle Combe, a picture-perfect village in the southern Cotswolds, is 10 minutes by car.
Style & character
The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling.
In sharp contrast is the sleek and modern spa complex, which includes the informal Brasserie restaurant, with its bare wood tables, leather armchairs, an open kitchen and glass walls overlooking the pretty walled gardens.
Service & facilities
The ubiquitous staff are not in the least bit stuffy, and good at anticipating your possible needs. The spa complex includes a 20-metre-long indoor pool, a substantial half indoor, half outdoor hydrotherapy pool, and various thermal cabins (sauna, steam room etc). A vast range of treatments is on offer, as are yoga and pilates classes most days in the Wellbeing House, a separate cottage in the grounds where you can also have sunlight therapy and a dry floatation session.
There is much else besides: an equestrian centre with 35 horses that cater to all levels of ability, a cookery school, floodlit tennis courts, and bikes (for adults and children, though the grounds are better explored on foot – wellies are available in the reception), as well as a five-aside football pitch.
- Fitness centre
- Room service
- Steam room/hammam
- Tennis court
There are 42 rooms, with around half in the main building, half in former stables and cottages set round an attractive courtyard laid out with lawns, meticulously tended flowerbeds and hanging baskets. Antiques, floral- and avian-patterned wallpaper schemes and grey marble bathrooms set the bedrooms' refined, muted tone.
The Classic rooms can feel small for their price, while most the other larger rooms come with sofas and armchairs, plus capacious bathrooms with claw-footed baths and large walk-in showers.
Your passport to a better trip
Food & drink
The Michelin-starred Park Restaurant serves elaborate and creative cuisine, with surprising combinations of ingredients and sauces – perhaps scallops with a pork croquette, or venison in a sloe gin sauce. Our puddings – a mango soufflé with coconut icecream, and crème brûlée with mini strawberry doughnuts – were the high point of the meal. Three-course dinners cost £85. The Brasserie offers more classic European fare such as risottos, steaks and burgers. If you're staying for two nights, you'd probably want to eat in both restaurants.
Breakfast, which can be taken either in The Park Restaurant or The Brasserie, is à la carte (no buffet). Expect beautifully presented fruit salads, baskets of fluffy pastries and croissants, homemade smoothies and freshly squeezed orange juice. Its large selection of cooked dishes includes omelettes and bacon sandwiches.
Value for money
Double rooms from £290 room-only; £344 including breakfast, year-round. While the rates are steep, you do get a lot for your money, including use of the spa (except treatments). See the website for packages including dinners, spa treatments, riding and cookery lessons. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
There are a number of ground-floor bedrooms, one of which has been adapted for guests with disabilities.
Very much so. There's lots for children to do (though the indoor pool can't be used by under-16s between 11am and 3pm). The informality of the Brasserie makes it ideal for families, and it offers a children's menu. Extra beds can be put in rooms for children, and interconnecting rooms are available.