Want to take over Stoke Place?
An attractive Queen Anne country hotel in South Bucks with Capability Brown grounds (ooooh!) and good value conference and wedding facilities.
Stoke Place is a handsome red brick 17th century Queen Anne mansion house in Stoke Poges, at the southern tip of Bucks. A four-star hotel with restaurant (you don’t have to stay to eat) it’s set amid 26 acres of grounds and a lake designed by Capability Brown, and is most popularly used a wedding or conference venue as the whole place can be hired for exclusive use (psst – Man U player Ashley Young got married here and did exactly that). There are endless rooms of all sizes that can for meeting days, wine tastings and baby showers.
Comfortable and friendly. Stoke Place has the feel of a rambling county house rather than a posh, luxe hotel and that’s reflected in the eclectic interiors – some gorgeous cosy corners, grand areas like the drawing room and then bright modern touches that you’ll love or hate. It falls short of feeling super luxurious (there’s no spa here for example) but it definitely has a relaxed charm, with its helpful staff, roaring log fires and an attractive outdoor patio and lawn.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The restaurant, known as ‘The King and Lamb’, looks across the gardens and lake at the rear of the house and was refurbished in 2016, overseen by savvy Maître d’, Mark Hepton, a handy appointment snaffled from Stoke Park up the road a short while ago. A new chef David Jaram, has just taken over the wheels of steel in the kitchen and a menu relaunch is imminent.
The lunch menu I had was simple – sometimes I breathe a sigh of relief to see just a few options rather than dozens – though of course on an evening you can expect it to be more grand. So it was three options for starter and mains, two puds or an English cheeseboard. I kicked off with baked goats cheese, tender stem broccoli, rainbow radish, broccoli puree and pumpkin seed granola.
For main courses my pal, Claire went for Braised Spice Rump of Lamb with almond and apricot couscous and I chose the Herb Crusted Hake with Jerusalem artichoke puree and oyster mushrooms, below.
Then it was banana sticky toffee pudding with hazelnut praline ice cream and a cheeseboard to round things off, followed by a quick stroll round the lake before the sun went down (it was a long lunch!).
Last time I stayed at Stoke Place, it was in one of the garden rooms, separate from the main house – not particularly flash, truth be told, more an option for those wanting pet-friendly accommodation (there’s a small cleaning charge). However, there are 39 rooms in the hotel, and they’re all very different, so it’s worth checking which ones have been flashily refurbed and which are a little more ‘comfortable’. Ask for the Alexandra suite if you have the means to spend £150 per night -Muddy editor Hero stayed in this room a few years ago and recommended it to me, with its free-standing bath in the huge bedrooms and its lovely views over the lake and gardens.
OUT AND ABOUT
Take a short drive to the stunning Burnham Beeches nature reserve – you can spend hours happily walking there. Black Park is also close, with a more organised offering for smaller kids (a huuuuge playground), bike hire and a pretty lake to walk around. Your nearest chi-chi shopping destination is Beaconsfield.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Weddings. Even if you don’t take over the whole hotel, you can still use a separate entrance and ‘wing’ of rooms including reception, ballroom and bar. If you happen to be local, there’s plenty going on here for non-hotel residents – murder mystery parties, bonfire nights, open air cinema screenings and ‘bottomless wine’ Sunday lunches (where do I sign up?). With dog-friendly rooms your pooch can enjoy a break too – dogs are welcome around the grounds, but not in the main house and restaurant.
Not for: Five star hunters – Stoke Place falls short of a super luxe experience, offering a more homely charm, as reflected in the prices charged. The lack of spa will put off some, though it is possible to book massages in your rooms.
The Damage: On the food side I’d say on the upper side of reasonable. The set lunch is £19.95 for two courses or £24.95 for three. The Bottomless Sunday lunch (unlimited house red or white wine for two hours!) is clearly a great deal, at £22 for two courses or £28 for three courses. Rooms range from around £80 for a Standard Double to £200ish for a Suite which seems sensibly priced.
Stoke Place, Stoke Green, Bucks SL2 4HT. Tel: 01753 534 790. thecairncollection.co.uk.