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A gem of an historical find that’s tucked away in 26 acres of Worcestershire countryside. Stanbrook Abbey both surprises and delights with a cornucopia of sumptuous experiences.

Stanbrook Abbey in Callow End near Worcester has a long and significant history, having been home to an order of Benedictine nuns for over 150 years prior to becoming the country house hotel it is today. The church was deconsecrated in 2009 when the few remaining nuns relocated to North Yorkshire. In 2015, the new owners re-opened the original Stanbrook Abbey as a hotel prior to Hand Picked Hotels adding the property to its collection in 2017. So, history lesson over what makes this a true gem of a hotel? Stanbrook Abbey is a place that’s full of promise and totally in tune with its location. Melting into its natural surroundings and more an enhancement to the natural vista than a disturbance. The hotel itself is nicely embraced by the green fields and surrounding flora and fauna delivering a rural joy with a tall imposing silhouette you can see from the road offering a sense of comfort and good things to come.

The contemporary welcome of the newly added frontage quickly melts like warm chocolate in some sliding historical time capsule as you enter through reception to the abbey itself. Its where the bedrooms and restaurants are tucked away. It’s a pure delight to roam the long, ornate corridors as you pass through a veritable time tardus en route to your room. It’s Hogwarts meets 5-star luxury without having to put up with some annoying, snotty, adolescent be-speckled wizards. The rooms are a clarion call to the past in that they’ve kept the essence of the nuns without making you wear a habit. It’s a light, sensible touch that reminds us of the Abbey’s past, while providing rooms that are both beautiful and that little bit different. Small details like an old-fashioned phone in each room makes you both smile and yearn for years past. The level of elegance in the accommodation is matched only by the levels of comfort i.e. a great bed and top-quality linen and its rural location promises a good night’s sleep. Let’s be straight, it was ‘inhabited ‘by nuns, so it’s bound to be on the quiet side of silence. The front of Stanbrook Abbey has a clean, almost clipped appearance.

It’s where modernity meets glowering 18th Century history in a pleasant and warm embrace. Some hotels can create a bit of a designer car crash when bolting on the new to the old. Not a bit of it here. In fact, George’s Bar which is in the new glass and metal addition is both funky and warming. Not an easy task to accomplish. The bar itself serves a host of top-notch cocktails and a good selection of wine by the glass. The Blonde managed to quaff a few Negronis before dinner which by the look on her face, tasted sublime. It was her West End moment. The restaurant called the Piano Room offers a characterful setting with high ceilings and an open fireplace, providing an intimate space for sampling exceptional dishes. With a passion for exploring new flavour combinations, paired with a wine list to match and a great team of attentive staff, this fine dining restaurant offers guests a highly refined culinary experience. I had my first cod Bon Bon’s as a starter. A fluffy, fishy delight which I followed with by choosing the slow cooked blade of beef. Again, a triumph. The Blonde chose the kiln smoked salmon followed by some excellent duck breast which had been cooked by a light, professional hand who knew how to cook duck. Not as easy as it sounds. Too under and it’s akin to rare lamb. Not pleasant and if too-over… its tough rubber. The wine was in keeping with fine doing offering a good selection of top quality wines from around the globe. We plumped for the Chateau Cissac Cru Bourgeois Haut Medoc, a real classic. The waiting staff were attentive without being clawing and were polite beyond belief.

All in all, a great dining experience and somewhere for a fab long weekend stay. Give Stanbrook Abbey a whirl. It’s only 40 minutes from Cheltenham and I promise you there isn’t a snotty teenage wizard to be seen anywhere!

For more info and to book:

www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/stanbrookabbey

Tel – 01905 409300