In the week of Millies' Birthday, a trip to Sussex for Goodwood Festival of Speed, manic normal working life and the unmentionable EU referendum we managed to squeeze in a pretty spectacular 18 hours at Ellenborough Park Hotel, Southam.
We were treated to a night in the Kauto Star suite, lovingly named after the infamous race horse and as a nod to the view from Ellenbourgh over Cheltenham Race Course. The suite was simply gigantic and beautifully furnished. Everything from the sofas, to the blinds screamed grandeur which was supported with antique furniture and original artwork decorating every wall. There was not one but two toilets and the bathroom was so big and beautifully light with marble floors and fluffy white robes. Obviously the roll top bath got used in the morning which I could have stayed in forever, looking out onto the big pine trees with the sunshine lighting up the Cotswold stone. The bed provided us with what was possibly the most comfortable night sleep ever and waking up to the sun creeping through the 19th century, castle styled windows and spotting a woodpecker on the lawn was like something out of a Disney film. We did note a couple downstairs on arrival with their wedding planner and we both mentioned how wonderful waking up in the bedroom would be on the morning of your wedding. Ample room for the wedding party to get ready and lots of little nooks for pre wedding photos. Of course we wouldn't need to delve into how spectacular the actual wedding and wedding photos would be as the beauty of Ellenborough speaks for itself, wow!
Ellenborough is traditional without being stiff or stuffy. It was renovated and extended 5 years ago but still retains its original charm. It would have been a crying shame to fill the place with mod cons and contemporary features (we no longer class music systems and aircon and contemporary features, those just come as standard now right?) There is a lounge area which we could just imagine lazing the cold winter days away in front of that roaring fire and a handpainted woodland scene leading up the stairs. The wood panelled Beaufort restaurant oozed warmth and personality which was echoed in the service from our hilarious and knolwedgable waiter.
Having said how traditional the décor is we were pleastently surprised that the menu reflected a far more up to date approach to hotel cuisine (i.e not a chicken supreme or prawn cocktail in sight). Head chef David Kelman knows the local area well having worked in Cotswold House Hotel, Wyck Hill house and Lower Slaughter Manor and this knowledge is reflected in his menu, using local suppliers and in season produce where possible. The most popular dish at the moment, according to our waiter, being the vale of Evesham asparagus. We did look at the menu but were so drawn to our waiter we listened to his recommendations all evening. We were not disappointed!
With a glass of Prosecco in hand we shared a complimentary board of sundried tomato bread and various delicious dips and amuse bouche.
Starter - The idea was that we were going to chose and then share our dishes but this did not happen, we were too happy with our own choices. For starters Millie chose the chicken terrine served with crispy chicken skin, caviar and peashoots. Meg opted for the crab scotch egg, crispy on the outside but perfectly runny on the inside!
Main - We both chose a fish course, Millie for king scallops with a 'side' of sea bass and Meg for the 'Market Fish' sea trout. We were recommended an English pinot gris (Bolney) by our waiter to go with the fish which was washed down in seconds.
Of course it wouldn't be a quintessential English hotel without pudding being the main event and with about 50 sweet teeth between us we of course ordered two to share. Baked Alaska, we were told was an experience and the bitter chcocolate mouse was a recommendation based on how aesthetically pleasing it would be. Our waiter was not wrong. The baked Alaska was flambéed in Chase Vodka in front of us providing quite the spectacle. The chocolate mouse was so delicate and pretty but certainly packed a punch with that 80% cocoa.
We were pleased to have found time for all the extras, swimming in the heated outdoor pool and lazing in the spa for an hour before dinner. Chilling in the suite lounge sipping on our complimentary prosessco; Lazing in the roll top bath, leisurely devouring eggs royal for breakfast and taking a morning stroll around the stunning grounds (not the whole 90 acres of them) on the beautiful blue skied Friday morning. We really didn't want to check out. For us, a night in a suite in a grand hotel is not a common occurrence and we felt truly spoilt, but without feeling out of place. Thank you for having us Ellenborough Park!
There is a 5 year waiting list for a room at the Ellenborough during race week for a reason! Sign us up for 2021!
Millie and Meg x