Sunday 21 February 2016

Located in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire is a little slice of heaven just off the beaten track. Surrounded by 300 acres is Stoke Park - the most beautiful hotel I've ever stayed in. We found it by chance one day; during a country drive on a bitter, winter's day. Driving through the golf course through to the Mansion building, we knew we had stumbled upon something special. We pledged to save up the money and stay here someday. However, Dan surprised me at Christmas with a 2 night stay in February!

I felt nervous as we drove up to the main building. I'd only visited Stoke Park during midday drives with Dan. What if it didn't live up to expectation? What if I was too common for a place like this?

On arrival my exact words to Dan were "I feel like a princess". And I wasn't lying. We were shown to our room, named William and Mary (FYI all the rooms are named after people in history who had an impact on Stoke Park). We were treated to a complimentary bottle of champagne on arrival with an array of fruit.

I couldn't sit still for that first hour - I kept going from place to place, room to room. The view from our bedroom of the golf course and the lake was outstanding, the bathroom with his and hers sinks and a massive bath was breath-taking whilst the fireplace provided endless comfort as we sat in our matching armchairs.

Feeling giddy from our pre-dinner champagne, we went exploring the hotel and grounds. We booked into San Marco, the Italian restaurant, for 7:30 so had a little bit of time to gather our bearings and enjoy a bath together.

The only disappointing thing about our stay was the dinner we had that evening, and this was mostly because of my food choices. Our waiter, Paul, was so attentive and even apologised for the noisy children. Not that we minded, we were so relaxed that nothing could really bother us. The dinner made me realise that I heavily dislike Panna Cotta, although the wine and service was impeccable. I'd go again but I'd maybe stick to two courses. I forgot how heavy Italian food can be.

The next morning we woke bright and early to enjoy a full English breakfast with a pot of tea before taking a walk of the Memorial Gardens. It's a resting place for loved ones so it was quite a sombre walk but also one we enjoyed under the gaze of the sunshine. It's a beautiful place to lay your loved ones to rest. It was calming away from the hustle and bustle of London.

The rest of the day was spent in the gym, pool, sauna and steam room. This was actually my first time in a gym. If you're a regular reader you'll know I've been trying to get fit this year and luckily my gym experience at Stoke Park made me more motivated (I might even sign myself up for one soon). We chose two deckchairs next to the windows in the pool area. I read my book whilst basking in the sunshine. It was bliss, almost like you were transported to somewhere warmer, and more exotic than England.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best thing about our stay was the meal we had in Humphry's that evening. In total there were 7 courses: we ordered 3 but there were 4 complimentary dishes, including a refreshing sorbet before our main. I went for the Salmon and Lobster to start, which was a perfect choice for me (unlike the Panna Cotta) as I'm a lover of seafood. I chose Beef for main even though it's probably one of my least favourite meats. But wow, it was spectacular! It was definitely the best beef I've ever tasted. It was tender, flavoursome and everything you could wish for in a Beef dish. I followed this up with a dessert that consisted of Apple and Cinnamon treats. It was delightfully refreshing and a lovely way to end the meal.

The morning swiftly rolled around again and we filled our boots with another English breakfast to set ourselves up for our short journey home.

We waved goodbye to Stoke Park with great sadness but with an assurance that we'd be back again someday.

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