Oak panelling, intricately carved fireplaces, sombre portraits, vaulted ceilings and a grand staircase make the four star Audleys Wood Hotel a captivating nation retreat from the hectic 21st Century. With simply 72 rooms, it’s simple to discover a luxuriant leather-based couch to stoop into or a comfy nook within the Bar or Long Lounge.

No, there by no means was a Lord Audley presiding over this peaceable pocket of seven acres of mature woodland simply exterior Basingstoke. “Oddele” within the 1086 Domesday Book corrupted / developed into Audleys over the subsequent 9 centuries.

Although the purple brick Neo-Gothic mansion was constructed as not too long ago as 1879 the architect’s intention was to create a nostalgic tribute to bygone days. The hefty entrance door is rumoured to this point from Shrewsbury Abbey within the fifteenth century century and there’s a contact of Hogwarts to the quirky, irregular design.

Audleys first grew to become a lodge, within the Thistle chain, in 1989. Now, it’s lovingly cared for by Hand Picked Hotels.

The welcome

Entering by means of the lined entrance, a two storey porte-cochère, is to step again in time. With three workers on reception check-in was all the time going to be instantaneous.

As we had been taken to our room, by the supremely welcoming Darren, we got a fast information to the lodge’s format after which proven our room’s services.

The rooms

We stayed in Cassandra within the authentic home, considered one of seven characteristic rooms named after characters who’ve featured within the House’s wealthy historical past.

The decor was elegant English Country House fashion that includes refined satins and subdued florals. Neutral colored carpets, curtains and wallpaper contrasted with the timeless attraction of dark-wood sturdy furnishings. A writing desk ignored a relaxed vista of immaculate lawns and the mature woodland past.

Gold-framed botanical prints, an ochre throw, olive-green cushions and Grecian Urn fashion table-lamps introduced dashes of color to a spacious high-ceilinged room.

As effectively as a coffee-maker, with a large alternative of capsules, and a kettle, the mini-bar comprises a jug of recent milk.

There is a discrete nod to the 21st Century with robust WiFi, a USB/plug charging dome and choices of linking your units to the huge-screened tv.

The rest room

Our rest room had been refurbished simply seven weeks beforehand: loads of spotlights, an enormous mirror, a deeply decadent bathtub and instantaneous scorching water. Toiletries are designed by Gilchrist & Soames for Hand Picked Hotels. I don’t wish to sound too Jilly Goulding however the citrus aromas have vibrant and refreshing notes of grapefruit.

The services

“Yoga in a bag” or “gym in a bag”, each with an instruction DVD, present alternatives for personalised wellness.

In protecting with its nation home heritage, Audleys favours good old style strolling. There are wellies accessible by the entrance door and maps for advisable strolls. Look out for Boris and Doris the pet guinea fowl who’re fed by lodge workers.

The Restaurant

The Gallery Restaurant was previously a grand conservatory with a minstrels’ gallery. Now it’s a sublime restaurant.

Afternoon tea is taken very severely with a Tea List of British, Tisane and Oriental – so in depth that it rivals some wine lists. Clearly it’s a standard expertise with Hampshire’s Ladies.

The Gallery Restaurant has a rigorously designed menu. It provides choices: the “Little or Large” part presents Caesar salad, a superfood salad or a beetroot and halloumi salad in both small or massive sizes. Mid-week the lodge has a powerful company following. Diners can arrive both ravenous for dinner or stuffed after a enterprise lunch. There is adequate selection on the menu to fulfill most visitors for per week: the wine listing for a yr or two.

There’s a powerful steak part with a surf ‘n turf option too. In keeping with its traditional English roots there is a Pie of the Week (currently steak and blue cheese) served with mash. But there’s a twist to the consolation meals of fish and chips – the fish is in a gin and tonic batter. The Gallery’s staples cross the Channel too, the coq-au-vin slide of the bone right into a welcoming red-wine sauce whereas the Dish of the Week efficiently married hen and chorizo in a risotto.

There are some inventive tweaks from the chef. Bonbons of mushroom and beetroot accompanied by tiny wedges of brioche deserves quick elevation to the pantheon of nice starters. A croquette of neck of lamb brings a powerful, virtually gamey, flavour distinction to the succulent rump of lamb in rosemary jus.

Portion sizes are smart, most visitors welcome the desert menu, they nonetheless have room for a deal with similar to strawberry Paris-Brest, chocolate fondant and salted caramel ice cream or a lemon tart with sorbet. A cheese board of three or 5 native cheeses may be very standard.

For breakfast there’s a wholesome number of cereals and fruits however scorching meals – the complete English breakfast, vegetarian full English, bacon sandwiches, salmon and scrambled egg and so on – are all cooked to order, piping scorching and splendidly recent.

Service is spot-on: attentive however discrete, speedy however not rushed.

Other good touches

During the Second World War, Lord Camrose leased Audleys Wood when his extra in depth house property was used as a navy hospital for wounded Canadian Troops. Camrose owned and edited The Daily Telegraph. Everyday there are copies of the newspaper within the lounge to honour his reminiscence.

A jewelry show in reception is surprisingly extra practical than ornamental. Many males overlook to convey cuff hyperlinks to wedding ceremony, birthday or anniversary celebrations: cuff hyperlinks are the top-selling merchandise.


Rooms, together with breakfast, begin from £98.

The finest bit

Location, location, location. Just off the M3 and never too removed from the M4, Audrey’s Wood is an oasis of peace in Hampshire simply reached from London, the Home Counties and the West Country. Nor must you fear about parking, there may be lots.

It is simply 12 miles from Jane Austen’s House and Museum, near the not too long ago refurbished The Vyne, a National Trust property, and close to The Watercress Steam Railway Line.

Also it’s only a ten minute drive into Basingstoke for cinema and buying.

The last verdict

Smaller and extra intimate than many nation lodges, Audleys Wood workers present a heat welcome for a supremely enjoyable quick keep.

Disclosure: Our keep was courtesy of Hand Picked Hotels.

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