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After my Muddy Awards ended a few weeks back, I packed my bags, pointed my children in the direction of my mother, then laughed hysterically all the way to Stoke Place with Mr Muddy.
Stoke Place (not to be confused with its slightly posher neighbour Stoke Park) is a picturesque 4 star 17th century Queen Anne manor house on the leafy border between Bucks and Berks, and frankly it was just the ticketato after an intense couple of months.
Our suite, the Queen Anne, was one of four in the 39 room hotel, and overlooked the pretty back lawn and lake. Light streamed in through the 3 huge bay windows. The bathroom was spacious, simple and modern (see above), with a roll top bath, double basins and a whopper power shower. As you can see, the styling is quite masculine, dark woods and browns and clean lines. It wasn’t inspired, but it was tasteful.
We had time for a leisurely stroll around the lake which offered some pretty views of the house and grounds …
… then settled onto the verandah overlooking the lawns for a quick G&T in the sunshine before heading back to the bedroom for a his n hers massage.
Tut tut dirty folk, cleanse your depraved minds, for ’twas a freelance beautician who set up her massage table in the room and didn’t seem to mind that Mr Muddy was snoring gently on the bed while she was attacking my back knots. She remained good humoured when I started munching loudly on the crisps with Mr Muddy on the slab. I can’t recommend room massages enough!
The champers and chocolates in the bedroom were complimentary and were therefore consumed in their entirety before dinner. And dinner is one of the main reasons I chose this hotel. It has 3 AA rosettes and a Michelin recommendation, and the staff here talk ambitiously of attempting a Michelin star.
We opted for the tasting menu with matched wines, and it was excellent – all the fine dining froth, soupçons and itty bitty courses that you’d expect. We ate in the Garden Room (below, the pic taken at breakfast) which was quite an experience with its dodgy Eighties wallpaper and oddly mismatched chairs and tables.
I’m generally a fan of the quirky but if there’s one area of Stoke Place that can be improved easily it would be the interior design. The will is there to present a modern take on the traditional country house – Aynhoe Park would be a good reference point on how to do cool and contemporary – and in some spaces such as the foyer (I love the Deco chairs below) and bar it really works.
But some of the chandeliers in the public spaces and bedrooms look like they could do with an upgrade, and the Garden room is just a bit bonkers for dinner (though perfectly lovely for breakfast).
I guess it comes down to personal taste. It certainly wasn’t a deal breaker in terms of our enjoyment of the hotel, and we loved the little touches like the rose petal strewn turn-down on the bed getting us in the mood for….. zzzzzzzzz. Oh come on, we were knackered!
Would I go back? I think for the money I would. There’s no doubt a big difference between a 4 and 5 star hotel in the overall slickness – the decor, service, the upkeep of the gardens. But sometimes you just need a relaxed space, close-ish to home, with good food and the will to please and Stoke Place has that in spades.
The hotel has a so-called Romantic Suite Escape that I think is pretty good value. It’s £249 for two on a Saturday night for a suite (ask for the Queen Anne where we stayed, it’s the biggest room) with free champers and chocolate, a three course a la carte meal (drinks not included), the rose petal turn-down, and a full English breakfast.
Food for thought?