“ Address: Woodlands Lane / Cobham / KT11 3QB / Surrey / England „
My wife and I were looking to do something special for our fifth wedding anniversary and decided that we fancied a dinner and room package somewhere fairly close to home. We had never left our toddler daughter overnight before, so we needed somewhere within short driving distance from the in-laws, just in case there were any problems whilst baby-sitting.
A few months before, a friend of ours had recommended the Woodland Park Hotel, near the village of Stoke D'Abernon. It is one of the many properties in the Handpicked Hotels chain, so I looked up their web-site and signed up to their e-mail service, which sends general news and offers on all of the hotels in the chain, about two or three times a month.
Fortunately, a timely offer popped into my inbox. At £149 for two people, in a superior room, including a three course dinner in the hotel restaurant (without wine) followed by breakfast the following morning, it looked excellent value. Check-in and check-out times were quite generous, and could be extended with a minimum of fuss. We were already dreaming of an uninterrupted lie-in.
The hotel is clearly sign-posted and easy to find from the A244 between the A3 and M25. As its name suggests, it is set in impressive and sizeable landscaped grounds and exudes an inviting Edwardian air - reminiscent of long lazy afternoons, causal games of croquet, cream tea and a spot of cricket.
On arrival, we parked up in the large but unobtrusive designated car park (there appears to be plenty of overflow parking, as the hotel regularly hosts weddings and other big events) and on entering the impressive hall, we were met with cheerful efficiency by the reception staff. Bags were taken from us and deposited in our room while we checked in.
It was late October, and a spectacular Christmas Tree had already been erected. Coupled with the roaring log fire in the main fireplace, the oak-panelled walls - some covered with tapestries - the place exuded warmth and charm.
The quality of our room came as a nice surprise. We had been allocated a Luxury Suite, once the bedroom of the Lord of the Manor, with comfortable, King sized bed, period furnishings, LCD TV and DVD player (reception has a selection of DVD's you can "rent"), a well appointed and immaculate en-suite bathroom and a seating area with bay windows overlooking the formal gardens at the back. In a word? Stunning.
Apparently, the then Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII, was a regular visitor to the hotel, and on his insistence, the level of the floor in the very room we stayed in was raised by about a foot (you actually enter the room and take a step up) so that he could ensure he was sleeping at a higher level than the hoi polloi. The cheek of it!
We settled in, had a relaxed and totally unhurried wander of the well-kept grounds, with the only disturbance being the twitter of the local wildlife and the occasional far-off strains of motorway traffic when the wind was just right. Dinner was booked for the in-house Oak Room restaurant at 7:30pm, and after a quick freshening up, we changed into dinner gear for our three course meal.
DINNER - THE OAK ROOM
As suggested by the name, the restaurant is in an intimate oak panelled room, tastefully decorated with flowers and slightly more modern touches which make it feel less "heavy" and formal. The tables are set far apart enough to allow for privacy and free movement. We were shown to our reserved table and left with a couple of menu's to peruse.
Staff waited for us to signal them before approaching for our order, and at no point did we feel hassled, harried or hurried. Each course was excellently presented. Portion sizes were reasonable, service was attentive but not intrusive, and the wine list was well appointed if ever so slightly overpriced. We settled for a mid-range bottle of white for around £30 to accompany our fish main courses.
Along with a few extras such as braised spinach, Dauphinois potatoes and steamed vegetables - which were not included in the price - we spent an additional £50 (plus tips). The food itself was very good. I had grilled Sea Bream, which was a little overdone for my taste, but then again, sushi is my favourite food! My wife had poached salmon with a watercress sauce that was exquisitely cooked. I can comfortably recommend the Oak Room for dinner, with or without the overnight stay.
We returned to the bedroom around 10pm after a game of backgammon (there are various board games available from reception) and were a little disappointed by the amount of noise being generated by a wedding reception in the main part of the building, but that died down at around 11pm and we were subsequently undisturbed.
Feeling pampered and decadent, we ordered a room service breakfast and Sunday papers and retired for the night after a hot chocolate made using the tea making facilities provided. The king sized bed itself was very roomy and comfortable, with plenty of fresh-smelling and fluffed up pillows provided.
After a comfortable night's sleep, a full room service English breakfast - with all the trimmings - duly arrived, piping hot and bang on time - once again, immaculately presented, absolutely delicious and with all the smallest details thought of (I particularly liked the little pots of Tiptree Jam, and the Wilkin & Sons Ketchup, English Mustard and Mayonnaise - so much better than those awful sachets). The sausages, bacon, eggs and produce all came from local organic farms, and you could really taste the difference in quality. Yummy.
All in all, a most excellent experience for the money. We genuinely felt like Lord & Lady for our stay, and that was as much down to the friendliness, professionalism and dedication of the hotel staff as the facilities and food. A big thumbs up.
© Hishyeness 2009 - previously published on ciao.co.uk under the same user name.
4 star luxury hotel woffering 57 rooms set amoungst beautiful landscape.