Men and women may have totally different taste in films, but Hollywood has something for everyone, and having provided the backdrop for silver screen favourites from Bridget Jones’s Diary to James Bond, Stoke Park is the getaway equivalent of movie magic … just ask YourGolfTravel.com’s Rory Anderson or Spabreaks.com’s Bonnie Friend …
What did you like the most about Stoke Park?
RA: The combinations you can play thanks to the three separate loops of nine holes also mean there are effectively three golf courses to play! Plus it’s fun to act like James Bond for the weekend! (Goldfinger and Tomorrow Never Dies were both shot in the grounds).
BF: The setting is breathtaking – it feels like a movie set (which as Rory has pointed out, it is much of the time; one of the girls I went with was even staying in Daniel Craig’s suite from his time shooting Layer Cake!) The rooms are split between the main house and the Pavilion – they are only about 100 yards away from one another but if you feel there is a bit of a chill in the air, there is the unbelievably decadent feature of a car to take you from one to the other – basically, it is the sort of place that makes you feel very expensive.
What did you think of the spa?
RA: After a long day on the fairways I was happy to just lounge around the pool, and as they often host sporting greats, they have plenty of treatments designed to loosen you up nicely for another round of golf the next day!
BF: The pool is parallel to the relaxation area with a large tropical fish tank in between, in a room which would be equally suited to hosting a Jane Austin-style cotillion – high ceilings, pale yellow walls and classical music gently playing in the background – I am sure it helped that the early morning sunlight was streaming through the windows as I was swimming, but it was just a lovely place to spend time. There is everything you need in the spa as well, so if you are there for the day or simply popping down from your hotel room, you don’t need to worry about taking towels and products – it has all been taken care of. The ultimate proof though is in the treatments, and I had one of the best aromatherapy massages I have ever had there, with a therapist who really listened to what I wanted. Up until now Stoke Park has used its own range of products – SPC, but from the start of July this year they are shaking things up, and will be using the marine inspired brand Thalgo and their luxury Terraké line, which will be a really exciting change.
How was the golf course?
RA: All three nine-hole loops are excellent. Being solid from tee to green is important but the biggest challenge comes in the form of lightning fast putting greens. Considering Harry Colt often collaborated with Alistair Mackenzie it is no surprise that there is a very Augusta-like feel around parts of Stoke Park. Apparently the short par 3 7th was the inspiration for the famous 12th at Augusta which is a fun thought to have in your head when you arrive at the tee!
BF: The golf course is a large part of the hotel’s 350 acre surrounding, which also encompass parkland, lakes and gardens. Perhaps most importantly however, the lake provided the setting for Hugh Grant’s ill fated poetry recital in a rowing boat with Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary … ‘There once was a lady from Ealing …’
What’s the restaurant like?
RA: We had dinner in Humphry’s which is a must … top class food in an elegant atmosphere! Afternoon tea in The Orangery was excellent as well.
BF: Humphry’s is the fine dining option at Stoke Park, holding two AA Rosettes and situated in the main house alongside The Orangery, where breakfast is served in aristocratic opulence – I was not aware that porridge could be quite so variable in quality, but evidently Stoke Park proves that any meal can be given the five star treatment. San Marco however is in the Pavilion – it is open all day and in the evening, and is a far more relaxed environment – a café and lunch area in the day, but what is special about it is that meals are just as good a quality as you would expect in any high-end restaurant.
What else is there to do at Stoke Park?
RA: Away from the course you can get in a game of tennis at the impressive tennis centre where there are indoor and outdoor courts including top class grass courts which are hard to come by. There are golf lessons and custom fitting are available for golfers as well. While staying for the weekend visitors can also make the short trip to nearby towns and villages including Windsor and Henley on Thames. Basically if you are looking for the quintessential English country retreat Stoke Park is second to none.
BF: As Rory says, tennis is a big thing here, and also Stoke Park is extremely close to Windsor, Henley, and also Eton which are awash with historic sites including Windsor Castle, boutique shops and seasonal entertainment including the Henley Regatta, although you will need to drive to them.
RA: If you’re in the market for a luxury golf break in a truly magnificent setting then Stoke Park takes some beating. It is a little on the expensive side but you certainly get what you pay for … 5* all the way!
BF: Without a doubt, and particularly if you are looking for a romantic venue – they recently had a competition to win a wedding there, and I can’t think of a more beautiful setting for one, so brides-to-be should keep your eye on their Twitter feed in case they run another one!
What is your top tip for visiting Stoke Park?
RA: Be sure to sample all 27 holes of golf. Each provides a different yet equally enjoyable challenge. I would also brush up on your putting skills before teeing off as the greens are most likely going to be a lot quicker than what you are used to!
BF: If you are an overnight guest and want to use the spa, stay in the contemporary Pavilion rooms so that you can walk down to the facilities in your robe without going outside. Also, keep an eye out for the Boodles Charity Tennis Tournament each summer – players in past years have included Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, Tim Henman, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, and tickets can cost as little as £38.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.