“ Secluded in the heart of some of England's most attractive and enjoyable countryside, Stapleford Park provides standards of hospitality and elegance found in only a few hotels and resorts around the world. „
Last February I had the fortune to be invited for an overnight stay at Stapleford Park in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. I work for a large investment house and every year the company holds a sales conference at a smart country hotel and the whole sales team is invited. Although, I should probably point out that by the word 'conference' I actually mean piss-up.
I drove through Melton Mowbray at nine in the morning, and had a chance to quickly admire the beautiful olde-worlde village before pulling into Stapleford Park. There are signposts for Stapleford Park in Melton Mowbray, so it's no problem to find.
As I pulled onto the estate, I drove past the 18th-century church and through the gothic archways to the main house. I parked in the hotel car park and there was instantly a valet by my side to help me unpack my car and take my luggage to my room. I was offered a coffee while my bags were being taken up and then the housekeeper came and found me and the colleague I was sharing a room with to show us to our room.
We were shown to the Anne Of Green Gables Room, where our bags had already been set out and our evening dresses hung up. The room was huge and very tastefully decorated in creams and pale greens, with a huge dressing table (big enough for two girls' cosmetics), a bureau and two watered silk armchairs. Thoughtful complementary extras had been left in the rooms, such as a bottle of home-made sloe gin, a bowl of apples and two pairs of slippers. Our en-suite bathroom was almost as large as the bedroom and equipped with a bath/shower, toilet, bidet, vanity unit and heated towel rails. The hotel toiletriies were by Crabtree and Evelyn (I pay attention to these things!).
Now in case you're thinking that I bagged a great room by being a sales director or something, I didn't. I'm a PA and whilst a valued employee, I'm not exactly what you'd call high-up in the pecking order! And it wasn't long before we started wandering round to see what rooms our colleagues had been allocated, to find that an immense amount of thoughtfullness and detail had gone into the design of each room. Taste and elegance seemed to be the order of the day.
Every bedroom has a different theme and designers and companies have been invited to provide the inspiration for each room. You had the MGM room, the Crabtree and Evelyn Room (complete with sample of all their products) and the Mulberry room to name a few. A colleague of mine who organised the whole event was placed in the Nina Campbell Suite - a two-level suite of rooms, complete with two bathrooms and a mezzanine that had to be seen to be believed.
As for the rest of the rooms in the hotel, they seemed to have been decorated with just as much elegance and care. The breakfast room faces the lawns and catches the morning sun. The entrance hall is imposing but not at all intimidating. The Library (also a bar) has just the right amount of dark smokiness and stuffed sofas.
During our stay we took part in 'team building exercises' such as building rockets and samba playing, but I won't go on about those here as the activities were provided by an external company. There is a lot to do on-site at Stapleford Park - they have a golf course, a spa, a swimming pool, gym, tennis courts, croquet and giant chess. They can also arrange for you to take part in falconry, archery, clay pigeon shooting and fishing.
As far as food went, we had a hot buffet lunch (stew and curry) with salads, breads and rice and in the evening I had duck, fillet steak and lemon tart. The quality of the food was excellent and although they were catering en masse standards did not drop.
After the formal dinner in the evening, we had a reception in the Orangerie Room with a bar. The reception ended at 1am and we then moved on to the Library, where they kept the bar open until the last guests left for bed at 6am!
Stapleford Park caters for weddings too and if the standard of service and catering that I saw is anything to go by, then I would not hesitate to recommend it. The setting is just so beautiful that it will make your special day that little bit more fantastic.
The level of service we received all weekend was terrific. The staff are polite and friendly and while Stapleford Park is very grand and not really the sort of place I'd usually stay at, we were all made to feel at home and valued customers.
The rooms at Stapleford Park start at around £275 per night and go up to over £500 but they do packages that work out a bit cheaper and I'd really recommend it if you fancy splashing out for a special occasion.
Throughout this op it would work well if you could hum the tune 'if they could see me now' which is best known I think as a Liza Minelli song....every time I think of this country house hotel I start humming this song..... Apolgies to those 9 people who read a shorter version of this op under the wrong heading a few months ago....it has not only improved but the truth is now being told as I become more confident in my Dooyoo opinions...... Stapleford Park in Leicestershire is luxury unlimited, but at £365 a night for a suite it has to be something special. They do 'speacials' for different rooms so take a look at the web site! Owned by Peter De Savary, who also owns Skibo castle where Maddonna and Guy recently got married, the man has enormous amounts of money to throw at his ventures. The cushions in the many sitting rooms on the ground floor were enough to stock DFS for many years to come!! There are staff that just seem to plump cushions up all day! A very wealthy male friend of mine asked me if I would liek to go away for the night and he took me here as a surprise. We were met at our car (a Mazerati) by a very nice man, dressed in tweeds, who organised other people to take our luggage for us. The entrance hall alone was enough to take your breath away with a glimpse of the quality to come peeking around the corner, you could just see the sweeping staircase leading up to the many suites. I kept calm, but already knew I could swear undying love, if only to continue being treated to this...ok I know we are only negotiating the price here! We asked for a guided tour and just the cigar collection in the drawing room kept my partner occupied for some time. The house was wonderful, very much a country house hotel rather than a hotel. We were there during the Foot and Mouth problems so we were limited to the grounds and gardens, but not the woods beyond. As we were only there f
or one night it wasn't a problem! There were very apologetic that the Falcons were not allowed to fly, as I didn't even know there were Falcons it wasn't a major deal for me!! We saw the huts they normally sit in and I had visions of them huddling down somewhere else with their wings crossed, looking very miffed that they couldn't stretch their wings! Our suite included the highest bed I have ever seen, if you go onto their web site you will see it as the Harborough Room, a bathroom which had lovely pieces of Dalton everywhere, and a lounge area which had sumptous sofas, more cushions and homemade biscuits and Sloe Gin, the Sloes made from Sloes on the estate. The spa was lovely although you do need to book in advance for treatments. It is also open to members of their country club but it was still very quiet. You are offered use of any Clarins products free of charge at the Spa, so after my swim I pampered myself.My partner said that at the price he was paying for the room I should have put them in my bag - such class! Champagne arrived promptly in our room at 7 pm (he got a brownie point for that!) and they were laid back about the fact that we were late for our dinner reservation....:-) Well champagne does go straight to a girls head ;-) We wnet down for dinner some time after the champers had been consumed and the room looked strangely untidy bearing in mind we had only been there a few hours... Canapes of goats cheese were mouth meltingly wonderful and there were roasted nuts including Pistachios and walnuts, kept warm in a basket made of linen napkins, and they were just for us. No thoughts about how many unwashed hands had touched these before we got there! Dinner was lovely, although it was slightly 'new cuisine' so have a few canapes before going in for dinner! Having said that I had a pud of lemon tartlet with homemade ice cream, dusted with cocoa powder and icing sugar that
made me feel I was appearing as a tester on Masterchef, it looked good and tasted great. After dinner it gets a bit quiet, we played snooker in the snooker room, the staff were great at finding us and plying us with drinks, but apart from that there is nothing much to do apart from retire........and wake to the thought of a sumptous breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. On returning to our room it was tidy and there were chocolates on the pillow....slightly disconcerting that the bed was made.....after all they may have mis-read our pillow fight as something else..however it was soon forgotten as we lay in bed, looking out of large picture windows at the stars. This is always ruined by the fact that at some time I'm going to have to admit to my friend that I wear contact lenses and put my glasses on. Not prepared to ruin his image of me at this stage, after all he hasn't been through the 'first thing in the morning' look yet I decided that discretion was best and would take my lenses out when we were going to sleep. Some time later, after the wrestling had finished......I have always loved the WWF....and we had settled down for post wrestling sleep I snuck to the bathroom (size of normal semi detached house ground floor) to take my lenses out. Even with the curtains open it was dark - not much of a moon that night - so I turned on the bathroom light. I was taking my lenses out when I heard shouting in the distance. Turning and looking out of the bathroom window I realised that as period windows they are very low and I was exposing my nakedness to a few people worse for wear wandering about on the lawn with their champagne glasses. Quick as a flash (!) I fell to the floor (Ow that hurt!!) and did a good impression of a commando belly down making his way through enemy territory. I made it to the light cord, turned the light off and finished taking my lenses outin the dark. Ba
ck in bed my man was breathing heavily, but this time it was more like snoring, and we both drifted off until the morning. In the monring after breakfast (smoked salmon etc) we were getting ready for clay pigeon shooting when my man said 'what's that mark on your knees?' Looking down I realised I had the start of two large bruises on my knees from the bathroom incident. For the rest of the day my man swaggered around thinking he was the originator of the bruises, and as we left that afternoon I had to wear a longer skirt than the one I arrived in to cover the evidence! Luckily the people involved didn't show themselves at breakfast so I kept our little secret! All in all a wonderful experience, I want to go back again as soon as I can, and although the price is high you come away rested and full of vigor!