By Laura Turner
Nestled in the picturesque Cheshire countryside, just a short drive from Nantwich town, is where you’ll find Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa.
One of the Hand Picked Hotels, an award-winning collection of country house hotels in the UK, Rookery Hall was once a grand private home with its own French chateau tower.
These days it’s one of the best hotels in Cheshire – and even has a celebrity connection, as it’s where a young David Beckham popped the question to Victoria, when they were better known as Posh and Becks.
Set in 38 acres of gardens and wooded parkland, it’s certainly a romantic setting. Add to that it’s award-winning fine dining restaurant and five bubble spa guests can use any time during their stay, and you might not want to leave. Here’s what happened when we checked in for the night.
Driving up to Rookery Hall it’s hard not to be taken aback by the spectacular views which surround the hotel. The meticulously maintained gardens, vibrant flowers and its own private lake are truly breathtaking.
If you’re travelling by train go to Crewe station, which is just two hours from London. From there you can jump in a taxi and be at the hotel within 15 minutes.
As we checked in, staff were friendly and greeted us with a warm smile. They helped carry our bags up the traditional oak staircase to our room before offering us a welcome drink. We liked guests could also help themselves to a newspaper and chilled fruit water in the reception area.
STYLE AND INTERIORS
Renowned for its impressive architecture, both the interior and exterior of Rookery Hall is quite breathtaking. The highly polished mahogany, herringbone floors and original marble fireplace magnify the history of the building, which dates back to the early 1800s. Whilst the juxtaposition of ancestral paintings and recent photographs of local landmarks provide the perfect storytelling platform.
The most memorable architectural feature can be found on the ceiling in the main dining room. Four crests, nine coronets and a frieze of winged cherubs highlight the skills and craftsmanship of a time gone by.
Although a variety of renovations have taken place at Rookery Hall over the years, each and every detail has been carefully considered to ensure nothing appears out of place.
Rookery Hall has 70 elegant bedrooms, which are an enchanting mix of old and new. They range from Classic to Executive and Deluxe. Suites are located in the eves at the top of the hotel. Interconnecting, accessible and dog friendly rooms are also available.
In the Old Hall there are 10 bedrooms, including two Junior Suites with period details and garden views. The 1990s wing of the house has another 21 rooms. While the newer executive wing has 39 contemporary rooms.
We stayed in ‘January’, a stylish Junior Suite in the French chateau tower in the Old Hall. The interiors boast cool grey tones, contemporary fixtures and original period features, the most spectacular of them all being the large bay window complete with cushioned seating. It was difficult not to spend all evening here, gazing out at the sweeping views of the front garden and lake.
Other highlights were the claw foot bath, king size bed with cashmere mattress and 24-hour room service. Prepare to feel like royalty after spending the night here.
There were so many little touches which helped make our stay extra special. We arrived to a bottle of Prosecco on ice and complimentary box of chocolate truffles. But our favourite touch was the turn down service. When we arrived back at our room after dinner we found a bookmark and bottle of ‘This Works’ pillow spray left for us to ensure we had the best nights sleep possible. And it certainly worked.
FOOD AND DRINK
The restaurant at Rookery Hall boasts a modest, yet elegant menu. Focussing on seasonal ingredients and intense flavours, you won’t be disappointed when dining here. It’s no surprise the restaurant has been awarded two AA Rosettes for its modern British food.
We visited for dinner and started with alfresco cocktails on the garden terrace. The Amaretto Sour (£10) and Pina Colada (£11) tasted even better sipped amongst the tranquil surroundings of the hall.
Shortly after we were shown to our table inside the main dining room and presented with a complimentary amuse-bouche of Courgette and Fennel Velouté. The texture was velvety and rich, which contrasted perfectly with the crunchy fennel topped sourdough served alongside it.
With our tastebuds well and truly awakened we couldn’t wait for our starters to arrive. There are only six starters to chose from, but each is unique in its own right. Think Quail (£10.5), Nori Swordfish (£13.5) and Ocean Trout (£13). However we couldn’t resist the Burrata Agnolotti (£9) which was beautifully presented and bursting with flavour.
The main menu is perfect for meat eaters and pescatarians alike. For those who prefer a plant based diet, there’s a separate menu available too. One thing that is consistent throughout the dishes is the sophisticated way they are presented. Each plate is a work of art.
The Monkfish Loin (£28) is a must-order. Paired perfectly with a Massaman sauce, we can guarantee you’ve never had a curry quite like this. However, the portions here are petite, so if you’re feeling particularly peckish we recommend ordering one of the side dishes. Choose from Triple Cooked Chips, Grilled Tenderstem and Roasted Carrots (all £5 each).
After seeing the other guests’ desserts being served throughout the night, we were looking forward to this course the most. The Chocolate Delice (£12) and Raspberry Parfait (£9.5) couldn’t be faulted, perfectly sweet with just the right amount of sour.
If you’re too full for dessert, why not retire to the bar and try one of Rookery Hall’s after dinner drinks instead, such as Salted Caramel Espresso Martini’s (£11.5) and their signature Grasshopper cocktail (£12).
The next morning we were also spoilt for choice at breakfast. Fancy something light? Then help yourself to the fresh buffet table. Fruit salad, granola topped yoghurt pots, fresh pastries and juices are all available. Or if a hot breakfast is more your thing, you can order anything from a Full English to Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs.
When booking a stay at Rookery Hall, guests are invited to use the Health Spa and gym throughout their visit and up until 1pm on their day of departure. The sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy pool are incredibly relaxing, but if you want to achieve that perfect zen moment book yourself in for a massage (prices start at £50) or head into the relaxation room. With low lighting, peaceful music and the comfiest beds, it’s hard not to drift to sleep in this oasis of calm.
Rookery Hall also has seven meeting rooms and capacity to hold wedding ceremonies inside and out. If you’re visiting with little ones, don’t forget to pick up a nature hunt sheet from reception. Your budding explorers will have a wonderful time looking for all the hidden markers dotted around the grounds.
The most extravagant feature of all has to be the Helipad, found towards the front of the building. That’s right, if you’re fortunate to own a helicopter – or know someone that does – you can land it right here at Rookery Hall. No wonder the Beckham’s got engaged here in 1998, and the hotel is regularly frequented by footballers and celebrities playing in nearby Stoke.
Finally if you’re planning a stay here don’t forget to bring your credit card, Rookery Hall no longer accept cash and operate on a card only basis.
Rookery Hall is the ideal place to stay if you’re wanting all the peace the countryside has to offer without being too far from local hotspots. With it’s superb fine dining menu, immaculate gardens and spectacular spa facilities, one night here just wasn’t enough.
Rooms start from around £200 per night
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