Every year we go away for my birthday in July. The last few years its been to my favourite place, Cornwall. But this year we opted for a few days somewhere different. I booked The Wood Norton in Evesham last minute through Booking.com. It was the beautiful architecture that attracted me, as I have a love of history as well as the fact they accepted kids.
I have always been a big fan of holidaying in the UK – we have so many beautiful places – but this year has been a real nightmare trying to find places that will accept a 3 year old.
The Wood Norton Hotel is situated in leafy Worcestershire just outside of the histroic market town of Evesham. It was built in the late nineteenth century and once belonged to the Duc d’Orleans and the internal features clearly have a French influence. The BBC bought the house in 1939 and used it as a base for emergency broadcasting during the second world war as well as listening to enemy broadcasts and at one point there were over 1300 programmes being produced there a week. It is within easy reach of Worcester, Stratford Upon Avon, The Cotswolds and Malvern and if you don’t mind a bit more of a drive Tewskbury, Ledbury and beyond into Wales (we ventured to Hay On Wye one day which we loved).
This luxurious, 4 star hotel offers fifty rooms from a standard double in the Pear Tree Mews beside the main building to executive suites in the main hall. The décor is both contemporary and traditional with the rooms in the hall all having the beautiful wood panelling with a French flair which can also be found throughout the ground floor and hotel.
We stayed in a double bedroom in the Pear Tree Mews – it was a good-sized double with space for a desk, chair and table and a good spacious bathroom with Molton Brown toiletries. Incidentally the mews used to be the private zoo to the Duc D’Orleans who apparently kept quite a collection including Lions and Giraffes. We’d love to go back next time and stay in one of the suites that overlook the lawn and formal gardens which the team of gardeners have lovingly created over the last few years. Our room was contemporary and comfortable although a bit hot with the weather we’ve had but they happily provided a fan for us and all was solved.
Breakfast is served in a beautiful panelled dining room and I think I spent more time looking at every detail and staring out at the garden than eating some mornings! I’m a sucker for beautifully carved wood so I was in heaven. We opted for a window seat which looked out onto the lawns and it was lovely to imagine what it is must be like to be a grand duchess having that view every morning! There was a choice of cooked breakfasts and a lovely continental selection of cheese, meats and pastries as well as yogurts, fruit and honeycomb fresh from their own beehives. I don’t like honey, but this looked amazing and I’m now converted to eating honeycomb! I had the full English and William very much enjoyed his sausages and bacon as well as the yogurt with compote or jam as he calls it.
On the second night we decided to book in for the fine dining experience, in a beautiful contemporary dining room which offered an award winning seven course tasting menu, using local ingredients from local producers. We had been a bit hesitant about doing this, purely for the fact I had my three-year-old with me. But one of the key features of this hotel is the utter warmth, enthusiasm and friendliness which exudes from every member of staff. Nothing was too much, Jason organised a table for us and having a small person was not a problem. William was made to feel so special throughout the whole experience. They accommodated feeding him from their brasserie menu, chatted to him and they went out of their way to find him a tub of his favourite, strawberry ice-cream. One happy little man! They even went out of their way to bring a glass of milk to the room at midnight when William decided he needed one to get to sleep.
The tasting menu was amazing and I would definitely recommend trying it. Beautifully served, quite Heston-esque in its style and tasted out of this world! We had scallops to start (my favourite) and other courses included lamb, turbot and a salt shot which William loved as it exploded all over the plate! Our waitress was possibly the best waitress I’ve ever had. She was incredibly knowledgeable about the food, very friendly, efficient and made William feel very special. It didn’t feel like we were in a restaurant, this was a private dining experience. We even met the owner who was also dining there that night, he came to say hello and chatted to William to say how very impressed he was with Williams behaviour as he sat at dinner for 3 hours! This is unheard for him so that goes to show what a lovely experience this was.
Other facilities include a gym in the old BBC recording studio, a games room with pool table, brasserie and a bar. The hotel also offers a state of the art boardroom, function room and offers it as a beautiful wedding venue.
Next time I come I want to try the afternoon tea and the brasserie restaurant and also get William to sleep early enough that I can go and enjoy the cocktails in the bar which overlook the parterres!
I’m so glad that I have found this little haven of peace and quiet and look forward to returning.
For more information visit www.thewoodnorton.com