The Country Hotel That Has it All

Sometimes it’s worth travelling for a good meal in beautiful surroundings says Andrea McVeigh

The Mallory Court Country House Hotel & Spa is one such destination hotel and restaurant that, having visited once, I would definitely make a point of visiting again for the food alone, not to mention the gorgeous location and ambience.

On one of the sunniest days of the year last summer, my husband and I sat at a table on the terrace outside this old manor house, enjoying an amuse bouche and a glass of wine while looking over the carefully-tended gardens – and we couldn’t have been more relaxed or content.

My notes about the meal that followed include the words ‘amazing’, ‘exquisite’ and the line: ‘dessert, so light and delicious, just perfect’. It was a delightful and indulgent end to what had been a challenging morning.

Roadworks on the route to Mallory Court, which sits in ten acres of grounds on the edge of Royal Leamington Spa, meant that we were late arriving at the hotel and I had to jump from the car as we pulled into the driveway, and dart into the Spa to make my previously-booked treatment on time, while my husband did the necessary job of checking in and bringing our overnight bags up to our room.

One much needed spa treatment later – a blissful ESPA Aromatherapy Full Body Inner Calm Massage – and I had calmed down and chilled out sufficiently, and was keen to check out our room, handily located within the Elan Spa building. We had a gorgeous big suite, with lovely treats such as compilentary homemade cordial and biscuits waiting for us, and a bed so sumptuous it was tempting to take a quick nap.

But with the weather so good, it would have been a shame to stay indoors for long, and we popped down instead to the outdoor vitality pool for a refreshing dip before getting ready for dinner.

The spa (and its 12 bedrooms) is in a different budding to the main hotel, and so, dressed casually but smartly for dinner, we made our way to the main 31-bedroom manor house where the Dining Room restaurant is located.

After the aforementioned amuse bouche enjoyed in the early evening sun on the terrace, we were shown into the majestic, oak-panelled restaurant, with its stunning views over the hotel gardens.

It’s the region’s most celebrated restaurant and you could tell that many guests were here for a special night out, or like, us, overnighting as part of a longer trip through the Cotswolds.

The Mallory Court team believe in ‘farm to fork’ dining, using fresh, seasonally grown and organic ingredients from the hotel’s own kitchen gardens. Other ingredients come from respected local suppliers and menus change daily depending on the produce available. For example, in summer there may be a Mallory Garden Salad with young garden veg, truffled cream cheese and a Fosse Way honey reduction on the starters menu or a Brixham White Crab dish with crab dashi jelly (a kind of Japanese stock), served with Isle of Wight tomatoes and pickled green strawberries.

For a main course you could choose a Cotswold Spring Lamb or, in winter, a Salt Chamber Aged Venison with salsify, parsnip and preserved blackberry venison jus, or even a treat from the vegetarian menu.

The kitchen is under the creative eye of Head Chef, Paul Evans, a 3 AA Rosette award holder whose signature dish is Cured Mackerel, served with fennel chutney, black-garlic puree, basil oil and a heritage-tomato consommé.

Getting to Mallory Court is easy. After flying from Belfast or Dublin to Birmingham, hire a car at the airport and the area of England known as the Cotswolds is yours for the exploring. There’s a good reason why the Cotswolds is so well-known and much-loved, it’s dotted with quaint market towns filed with pretty cottages built from honey-coloured stone, nestled amidst rolling hills.

Covering almost 800 square miles and spreading through five counties, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, the Cotswolds may also be much larger than you thought.

A long-standing member of the Relais and Châteaux group, and one of the award-winning Eden Hotel Collection of privately-owned nine luxury hotels, Mallory Court has been included in a list of the top 200 hotels in the country and with a large number of National Trust properties in the area, as well as Royal Leamington Spa itself to visit, there’s plenty to do during a short stay.

It’s easy to see why people fall in love with the menus at Mallory Court. But an outstanding meal is worth nothing if not followed by a sound night’s sleep and it was with delight that we rested our heads on plump, soft pillows that night and fell fast, and contentedly, asleep. Dreaming of food, naturally.

Andrea was hosted by Mallory Court Country House Hotel and Spa.