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Winding down in Warwickshire
Walton Hall Hotel and Spa (Wellesbourne, Warwickshire)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Walton Hall Hotel and Spa (Wellesbourne, Warwickshire)
Date: 09/09/06, updated on 09/09/06 (1792 review reads)
Advantages: Homely and comfortable
Disadvantages: In need of a refurbishment
The hotel is situated in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, which is just a short distance from the M40. When coming from the north, junction 15 is the most straightforward exit, followed by a short drive through Wellesbourne, after which the hotel is clearly signposted. From the south, junction 13 is the exit to take, again followed by a trip through Wellesbourne, following the signposts. Getting there without a car would be very difficult; although I’m sure it could be done if you don’t mind spending a fortune on taxis.
Parts of the house, an ancestral home of the Mordaunt family, were built in the fifteenth century, in a neogothic style. I was highly amused to hear that it was owned by Danny La Rue for a while – can you imagine the parties?! It then became a hotel and has recently been bought by Paramount, who are building more rooms and apartments in the grounds of the hotel.
Driving up to the hotel is a fantastic experience. The house itself if very imposing and beautiful, surrounded by the most fantastic grounds, including a lake and a chapel belonging to the house. Going into the entrance hall of the house itself is particularly spectacular because of the huge stained class windows and high ceilings.
We had booked an apartment for three. The apartment was situated in the converted stables, just a short distance away from the main house. It was huge; and included a large sitting room with a pull-down bed, a kitchen for self-catering, a big double room and a good-sized bathroom. The hallway led out onto a huge balcony.
Once we had got over being amazed at the size of the apartment, I did start to notice that the carpet and furniture weren’t in the best of states. The carpet was very worn and dirty in places, the furniture was slightly shabby and there were cobwebs in the corners of all the rooms. Paramount are planning to refurbish all the older rooms once they have finished building new rooms to avoid lack of accommodation for guests, so I can understand why everything looked slightly shabby, although, of course, there is no excuse for dirt. Having said all that though, there was a wonderfully comfortable feeling in the apartment and we all immediately felt at home.
The spa and health centre
Situated in the grounds of the hotel, just a stone-throw away from our apartment, is the spa centre and gym. This is a much newer building and was immaculately clean. We had booked for two treatments each; my sister and I had a manicure and facial, while my mum had a manicure and head and shoulder massage. I was impressed by the way my beauty therapist worked. She explained everything that she was doing (not that I haven’t had a manicure and facial before) and asked me to tell her of any problems that I had. As I suffer from ridged nails and blackheads, this was very useful, because she was able to give me advice on what to do. I was particularly happy with the facial, which was very relaxing, although I was also pleased with the manicure. The nail polish used was of very high quality – so much so that even a week after it was put on, it still hasn’t chipped. My mum and sister were also very pleased with their treatments.
My sister and I went for a swim later on in the evening. The pool was very clean, if a little small. I could have done without the number of children in the pool, but this is something that can’t be avoided I suppose. There was also a Jacuzzi, although unfortunately it wasn’t working while we were there. Use of the pool, gym and other facilities were free for guests.
As part of the package that we had bought, we had dinner and breakfast included. Both were held in the Mordaunt room, a very elegant, high-ceilinged room beautifully decorated to match the décor of the rest of the house. Had we paid for dinner, it would have cost us £21 for two courses. As it was, we had three courses and coffee included – the only thing that was extra was the drinks, but as we only had a bottle of mineral water, we only had to pay £3 extra.
We all had vegetable tart topped with goat’s cheese and accompanied by red onion jam. This was exquisite and I could easily have eaten it all over again. For the main courses, I had shoulder of lamb with mashed potatoes on a bed of buttered leeks, my mum had salmon with mashed potatoes and green beans and my sister had chicken breast wrapped in bacon on a bed of mushroom tagliatelle. I wasn’t overly impressed by the lamb, although I ate it all, but my mum and sister raved about the chicken and salmon. We followed this with cheese and biscuits and coffee, although we could have had something more filling – the bread and butter pudding looked particularly impressive. Children’s dishes with chips were also available.
Breakfast the next day was buffet-style, with all the usual range of cooked and continental food. All was delicious – the only criticism I have is that the scrambled eggs, for some reason, was not in a heated container unlike the rest of the cooked items, and so was stone cold. Not nice.
The service in the restaurant ranged from fabulous to basic, depending on who was serving us. The Maitre d’ was excellent and very helpful. There were a couple of waiters who seemed a bit scared of us and had to be encouraged (ie bullied) to come and serve us at times. They were not English speakers, which probably explained the problem, but I did find it a bit rude, especially when we walked in and they just looked at us.
The service in the apartment was adequate, if a little odd. Despite booking for three, there were no sheets and blankets left for the pull-down bed in the sitting room and I had to ring reception to ask them to bring some over. Someone came round very quickly; unfortunately, she hardly spoke a word of English and it took a while to explain what it was we wanted. She then brought back sheets and a duvet for a single bed, although the pull-down bed was a double. Not being particularly concerned by this, I told her it was OK – although thinking about it afterwards, I did think that she could have had a little more common sense. I wasn’t bothered about the lack of English – she obviously wouldn’t have to talk to guests all that much – but it is obvious that double sheets and duvets are needed for a double bed!
We had a package deal, including the apartment, dinner, breakfast and six treatments for £340. I thought this was fairly reasonable and worked out at about £115 each. However, I can imagine that once the refurbishments have been finished, the costs will go up and unless the service improves drastically, I don’t think it will be worth it. If you just want a hotel room, they start at £75.
The hotel wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. However, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and felt completely at home and relaxed. This is a feeling that I have never really had even in the poshest and most immaculate of hotels. In the apartment, there was no need to worry about spilling anything, or making a mess – I treated it exactly as I would my own home and this is something that money can’t buy. In the rest of the hotel, despite the beautiful setting and décor, there were no airs and graces. All in all, I was very happy during my stay there and would definitely consider going back, preferably before the refurbishments start!
It is possible to hire out rooms in the house for weddings, although you would have to share your wedding with the other guests in the hotel. There was a wedding going on while we were there and all seemed to be well-catered for. One of the rooms at least opens out on to the lawn, which is meticulously cared for.
I forgot to mention the views. From the lawn overlooking the surrounding area, there is not a house in site; just green fields and trees. Very peaceful.
Despite the faults, I am going to give this hotel four stars. The atmosphere was amazing and far more enjoyable that a modern city hotel, however good the facilities.