Every so often we visit a very special hotel and spa – the Vineyard at Newbury is one of those places. This is because the people who work there go that extra mile to make their guests feel totally at home – they take a genuine interest in every guest – and all of them know your name which is quite remarkable.
The Vineyard by night – Fire and Water sculpture by William Pye
This hotel is a member of the Relais & Chateaux a unique collection of the most beautiful restaurants and hotels scattered around the world. So you expect you will be getting a five star and quality experience from the minute you arrive.
Every room is different, with the bigger suites – 49 of these – named after a wine or wine area. The owner entrepreneur, Sir Peter Michael, who amongst other things started Classic FM Radiio, is a huge fan of New World wines, in particular those from California where he has his own vineyard.
The Vineyard, is focused on food and wines, as you would expect, and has one of the largest cellars in Europe with more than 2,500 bins on its list, including those from exotic places like the Lebanon and various Russian republics. The winelist is like reading a novel – there are 23,000 bottles in the cellar – and I am lucky enough to get a copy to take home with me and signed by the hotel’s award-winning sommelier, Frenchman Yohann Jousselin (UK Sommelier of the Year 2011).
I am staying, co-incidentally, staying in the Dom Perignon room in the Atrium – how did they know my favourite drink I wonder?
Everything in the room is immaculate, with attention to every detail – perfect white robes, a fruit bowl, and the white bed linen. There is also a lovely countryside view from the bedroom window.
I am shown to my room and within minutes a tea tray arrives – as you would expect the tea is piping hot and fresh. I never eat biscuits but these are made in house so I cannot resist them.
The Vineyard is also a living art gallery so a walk down a corridor can take a while if you are interested in art. There is also art in all the rooms – even the bathrooms! So I spend most of the afternoon in the corridors…I return to my room and get ready for dinner and my pre dinner cocktail arrives – a glass of chilled champagne..
Rita Hayworth in my bedroom
Dinner is a French-inspired gastronomic experience and you have several choices including the 7-course tasting menu which costs £185 including wine. By the way I should mention prices here – I note they are are good deal cheaper than those in London, especially in the City so the level of quality and service that I see here is really value for money.
I opt for the a-la-carte menu and choose 3 courses including foie gras and braised pork belly. My only criticism is that almost everything is very rich, but that may have been the menu that evening and possibly my bad choice as I always predictably choose foie gras.
There are various events organised every week in the hotel around wine, including themed tastings and a wine school.
The Spa offers a full menus of treatments using the luxurious French Darphin aromatherapy range and ESPA product. As you would expect the spa itself is a place of tranquility where you can get away and relax by the pool, swim or sleep.
I choose the Darphin Meadowsweet and Cucumber Eye Refiner. This is a blissful 40 minute treatment using anti-ageing products. The delicate area around the eye is massaged and soothed with the gentlest of products. Afterwards my eyes look much fresher and brighter and rested. This treatment costs £40.
I also buy a special package of Darphin anti-ageing treatments for dehydrated skin which are on a special offer.
The spa has everything from hot stone massage (£75) to scalp treatments (£95) and spa day packages (£250) to pamper evenings for two (£105). There is also a pool, jacuzzi and gym.
The rooms range from large double to suites and grand suites – prices start from £139 pp (based on two people sharing).
Berkshire RG20 8JU
T: + 44 (0)1635 528770
The Vineyard Spa
T: + 44 (0)1635 589415
Activities to do nearby:
Bicester Village Outlet Shopping
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