Botley Park is part of the Macdonald Hotel group and is located about 20 minutes drive away from Southampton.
We booked last minute as my partner found a good deal on the Superbreak website for 2 nights bed and breakfast with evening meal on the first night - all for just under £100.
This was my first experience of a Macdonald Hotel.
I was slightly annoyed when we received a call from Superbreak whilst in the car on the way to say that the double room we had booked was not available and we had to have a twin instead. Something to do with the computer system apparently. We rang Botley Park but they really did only have twin room left so we were stuck with that.
First impressions of the hotel from the outside were quite positive. It is located off a main road which is not too busy and as you drive in it looks quite pleasant with a few trees and some grass. Being a golf club means there is plenty of greenery in general.
There was not a huge amount of parking spaces but we did manage to get parked so not a problem.
The reception area was very nice and had a view of the indoor swimming pool.
Check-in was handled efficiently by a very polite gentleman.
There was no porter service to help with our cases, but personally that is not hugely important, particularly for the price we paid.
Our room was a basic room, nicely decorated and in good condition, although the bed spreads were faded and did not match on the two single beds which I thought was a bit poor.
There was a table with two chairs.
We had a lovely view out of our window, looking out onto the golf course quite close to the sports bar. Although there were a few people outside, the windows were pretty sound proof when closed.
There was a basic TV and the usual tea/coffee/hot chocolate/small packet of biscuits.
The best part for me was the service in the restaurant and the food. We were told at the time of checking in that we were allowed up to £30 each from the menu as part of our "free" dinner. We were both really impressed with that.
The waiter staff were superb. A young man told us what the menu was without needing to read it, and there was quite a lot of very sophisticated things on offer.
I had smoked haddock risotto to start which was delicious. We were also offered freshly made bread rolls which were seriously wonderful!
We both had rib eye steak for main and it was cooked exactly as ordered with a good range of accompaniments. I wanted a desert but managed to refrain for dietary reasons!! I made up in calories by drinking quite a lot of red wine, which was the cheapest full-bodied red they had (Shiraz) but it was very good.
The breakfast was also one of the best I have ever had, and I think I am pretty well experienced at eating hotel breakfasts!!
There was everything you could want in terms of traditional cooked English breakfast. The selection of fruit was very good, as well as juices and cereals and even meats, cheeses and pastries.
The only negative thing I have to say is that the restaurant seemed very dark and a bit closed in.
On the second night we ate a picnic from the nearby Marks and Spencer!! We also went and sat outside the sports bar at the tables overlooking the golf course, which was really relaxing.
The swimming pool was nice and clean and a decent size for a hotel pool. The sauna and steam room were ok too.
We visited Portsmouth while we were there (it was about 45 minutes in the car) and I only wish it had been closer as we would have liked to have had a drink, but you can't have everything!
I would go there again, no question, and I would recommend it to those looking for a good value relaxing short break with good food.
The Botley Park Golf and Country Club is owned and operated by Macdonald Hotels, a group with some 70 hotels across England, Scotland and Wales. The hotel is situated just 15 minutes from Southampton Parkway railway station and Southampton (Eastleigh) Airport and five minutes from junction 7 on the M27.
Website and Booking
I did not book this hotel in the conventional sense, as I was actually part of a Wedding Party...and therefore my friend (the bride) took care of the booking for me. However, normally bookings can be made via 0870 400 9090 or via the website www.macdonald-hotels.co.uk
As a wedding guest, I was offered a Wedding Break rate, which was £79 for a double executive for single occupancy, including a complimentary three course dinner with coffee on the Friday night prior to the wedding. Their best available rates from their own website (Mar 06) seem to be £105 for the room for two nights, or £54 PPPN,
I did try and see if they had any cheap rooms via www.laterooms.com and www.lastminute.com, however none were forthcoming, presumably due to the fact that the hotel had two weddings in for the Saturday night, and one on the Friday. The double occupancy Wedding Rate price is £98 including the complimentary dinner for two.
Booking on line is straightforward, as is requesting a brochure. I had requested a brochure prior to receiving the formal wedding invite. My brochure was with me within a few days.
Location and First Impressions
First impressions were excellent. I was picked up from BOH airport by the (at this point!!!!) very laid-back Groom, and the 30 minute drive through to Botley is pleasant, culminating in tree lined avenues, before pulling up outside the front door to the hotel. Car Parking is excellent, with car parking for over 250 cars, and as this is a Golf and Country club, the hotel is set in 176 acres of parkland, making that country retreat feel that little more special.
Check in was swift. The reception was manned by two staff and there were no guests waiting, when I arrived somewhat later than scheduled at around 3pm.
The reception is very modern and airy, with tonnes of seating space in the form of comfortable lounge sofas and high back armchairs. There is also a concierge on duty.
Just off the reception there is an informal bar area which serves snacks and which overlooks the 18 metre swimming pool and spa pool. At ground floor level, a long corridor provides access to the hotels 100 bedrooms. Also from this level you can gain access to the Espa Spa rooms, Squash courts and gymnasium.
Bedrooms were accessible via stair access, and there is no lift in the hotel, however ground floor rooms are available if required.
As this is only a two storey hotel, and with over 100 rooms, the hotel was sprawling in its shape and some rooms did seem to have a fairly long walk in order to reach them.
Service was pleasant and friendly, card was swiped, and I was given directions to my room within minutes
WOW, was my first impression! My room was a double executive room, and which was furnished in a contemporary style using brown and cream hues. Some wings of the hotel were undergoing full refurbishment and my room seemed to be in a refurbished area, evident from that new home smell that was present down the corridor.
My comfortable double bed was flanked by a wonderful headboard which was modern in styling. The ample wardrobe space was clearly fresh and new and contained more than enough solid wooden hangers to last even me for the two night stay. The fresh white linen was complemented by a caramel and cream covered throw, and the heavy curtains did a good job in allowing me to sleep in each morning.
The room was more than adequately lit, with a combination of ceiling, desk, and bedside lighting. In terms of general comfort, I had a desk/dressing area and two regular chairs in addition to the bed. In room entertainment was provide by the way of regular and some sky TV channels plus radio. There was an amply stocked minibar, and a tea/coffee tray, including some fabulous Macdonald Hotels shortbread. In addition to instant coffee, I also had a percolator and ground coffee at my disposal. a hairdryer, trouser press, and ironing board were also available.
The bathroom was exactly my kind of styling, with its modern white suite and tiling with a smattering of black marble and stainless steel power shower and taps. There was (and I dont say this very often...) an excellent array of towels, including decent bath sheets that you can completely wrap oneself in; after a bath or shower. The in bathroom toiletries were supplied by the Scottish Soaps company and were of excellent quality. The over bath shower was completed with a screen, which did the job reasonably well, however the floor was subjected to a mere small soaking.
The room was air conditioned, although I could not get this to work, and was later informed by a fellow wedding guest that it was not working across the hotel due to the upgrades (which I stress were completely inobtrusive to the stay). The air conditioning fixtures were of the modern electronic style and no doubt will be very efficient when the system is finalised. In the meantime, I had to resolve to leaving the window open for the entire length of my stay, and my obligatory Saturday morning walk around the grounds would testify that most rooms had the same idea. This felt like a warm hotel, although that said, it was a particularly warm weekend.
The room also had datapoint access, as well as telephone. Access to the room was via security cards.
I also visited one of the suites on numerous occasions, seeing my friend, including indulging in the Sat AM Champagne and Strawberries, while hair and make up were perfected. I actually felt that this room was not as contemporary as mine was, presumably not having been decorated as recently. However the room had separate lounge and sleeping areas and had a HUGE bathroom, complete with separate bath and shower.
Wining, Drinking, and Dining
Obviously over two days, I dined in the hotel on several occasions. My first occasion involved a bar snack at the bar. I ordered a club sandwich which was delivered within ten minutes and was one of the tastiest club sandwiches I have experienced at around £8. A glass of house white cost around £3.30, while a round consisting of white wine and a southern comfort and lemonade was around £7.50 from the function room bar.
Breakfast was served in the main restaurant and I found the seating service to be swift and the restaurant always looked clear, and not consisting of tables full of the previous diners remnants. The buffet breakfast consisted of a selection of cereals, fruit juices, yogurts and cheeses, pastries and a hot buffet which was generally unattended. I cannot testify for the scrambled eggs, as I prefer to cook my own, or have eggs cooked fresh, however the fried eggs were fine. On the second morning, a more private area was set for the wedding guests, for those that made it, that is..
I also had my Friday night evening meal in the same restaurant. Initially I had sat down to dinner alone, and the service was swift and efficient (which is normally what you want when you are a woman dining alone). However after I had finished my starter the groom came down to eat, and I joined him and two friends. This slightly mucked things up, as it meant two tables merging into one, and made a few timing issues for the kitchen. I ate buffalo mozzarello and tomato starter followed by a filo pastry vegetarian main and superb cheese for pudding, washed down with a decent new world Sauvignon Blanc at £10 per half bottle. The food was impeccably presented, although the confusion about the two tables meant a time delay in serving our puddings together. One of the grooms friends ordered the cheesecake, which looked to die for and I was incredibly jealous The Table dhote menu is £18 per person for three courses and coffee, and represents good value for money for a meal of such quality.
And finally I ate the Wedding Breakfast, which consisted of a wonderfully presented melon and roast beef main, or vegetarian alternative; finished with a slice of the most desirable wedding cake, and served efficiently and most importantly WARM given the numbers that have to be catered for at these events.
The hotel has an E'spa spa with all the wonderfully indulgent treatments that you would expect of a spa of this genre. It also has two squash courts and tennis courts outside, as well as the Golf course itself, which costs £25 to residents who should hold a handicap certificate. I didnt find an awful lot of seating areas within the grounds, however there is a patio area near to the golf and VITAL leisure centre, and this includes a bar area, which can accommodate morning coffee as well as drinks.
The hotel offers same day dry cleaning services, and can accommodate the normal services expected of a four star establishment including flowers, administration, room service etc. Full breakfast delivered room service cost £12.50 per person.
The hotel has nine function suites in their conferencing and banqueting facility, including a room which is sanctioned for marriage.
And finally the conference and banqueting manager on duty worked incredibly hard yet unobtrusively to give us the fantastic day which we all enjoyed, and top marks for him!
Although a large hotel, the extensive grounds give a feeling of space, and a private lawn was available for the wedding party, upon which was erected a bouncy castle and a face painter for the kids ..and the adults if desired.
(Things We Wedding Guests are not Meant to Know)
The wedding itself cost at least £65 per person, based on the information gleaned from their website, and which compares with the £75 per person which the bride told me was their estimated expenditure, when we met up for dinner a few months back. Sheesh. Glad it wasnt me footing that bill. Rates seem to max out at £70 for the Wedding Reception itself and a further £17.50 for the evening buffet but of course this will depend on the exact menus (Mar 06)
In a nutshell
Friendly but unobtrusive service
Not as good
Bath screen could be a weeny bit bigger
My fellow dining guests were not completely satisfied with the restaurant service on the Friday night, i.e. the mess up with the timing
Botley Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club
Ph: +44 1489 780 888
Tel 0870 400 90 90 Central Reservations
(My visit was July 2004)