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Luxury life in Leamington Spa at Mallory Court.
Leamington Spa, just south of Coventry and Birmingham and to the east of Stratford-upon-Avon, deserves to be better known. A pretty spa town that rivals Bath for Georgian and early Victorian architecture, I suspect it suffers from proximity to Stratford-upon-Avon. My soft-spot for Leamington comes from having lived there for a year, next door to the infamous Fox and Vivian pub and steakhouse (a prime location for any student). I’d still recommend spending time there – especially now I’ve stayed at Mallory Court Hotel and Spa, a 43 room four-star hotel with the kind of facilities and services that makes me wonder why the fifth star is missing. Part of the privately-owned Eden Collection of hotels, Mallory Court is also a member of Relais & Châteaux.
The main Manor House of Mallory Court Hotel was built in 1914 and the property was family-owned until 1976. At that time, it was converted into a Country House Hotel and the current property is home to three separate buildings each with their own offering. The Manor House itself is a traditional Country House Hotel with large comfortable rooms, beautiful marble bathrooms, cosy lounge areas with roaring fires and a rather special restaurant.
Just across the gardens, the Elan Spa is housed in a two-year-old building which blends in well and looks as if it could have been there for a lot longer. There’s a pool with hydrotherapy jets, indoor sauna and steam room and outdoor vitality pool and sauna.
A good-sized gym, cafe and nail parlour take up the rest of the ground floor. On the next floor, there are treatment rooms for the Spa itself with Ila and Espa treatments. And, above that, there are rooms for guests to stay if they are at Mallory Park for a spa break. That means no traipsing through the gardens in the rain wearing a robe and slippers – and the chance to really make the most of the spa facilities.
There’s a third building which houses the main conference and wedding facilities and has rather better than average standard double rooms with more of a contemporary feel. In fact, depending on the size of your wedding you can choose to base it in the Manor House or in the Knights Suite or mix and match for different parts of the day.
I loved the thought that has gone into the layout of the hotel. If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel as the lone guest that wasn’t going to the wedding, if you’ve tried a spa break in a hotel where there are a lot of business events, or if you’ve been trying to enjoy a romantic dinner only to find the table next to you is a hen party in robes and slippers you’ll appreciate this thoughtful design which allows everyone to get the best out of the space.
My own room in the Manor House was the sort of place where you really wouldn’t care if it rained all day. A coffee maker, kettle, selection of teabags, fresh milk, homemade biscuits, snacks and bottled water were all laid out carefully. The king-sized bed with crisp, classic bed-linen was turned down in the evening.
The bathroom came with a full-size bath and separate shower, Elemis toiletries and plenty of fluffy white towels. The loo was in a separate room, just off the private entrance lobby to the room, where there was space to hang outdoor-wear and to store luggage. Comfy robes in the wardrobe were perfect for snuggling in after an admittedly gentle swim and session in the outdoor vitality pool and sauna. It was an easy place to enjoy. Blissfully peaceful and tranquil, the view out to the gardens was framed by heavy brocade curtains.
The Dining Room is the main restaurant at the Mallory House Hotel and Spa. With three AA rosettes, it prides itself on seasonal local food – with the aim of gradually increasing menu items from the hotel gardens. For dinner, there’s an option of a tasting menu at £67.50 per person or a three-course seasonal menu for the same price, with a choice of three dishes at each stage. The menu is carefully presented with a comprehensive listing of allergens and the restaurant are happy to cater for dietary requirements and food intolerance.
The wood-panelled restaurant is made up of two interconnecting rooms, so there’s a real feeling of intimacy, with just a few tables in each space.
The tasting menu started with three amuse-bouche. A crispy roll filled with truffled custard and topped with pickled walnut confit and more black truffle was a delicious mouthful.
The tiny crisp rye cracker filled with chicken liver parfait and topped with unripe fig was also delightful.
The salmon belly teriyaki was lovely although in a trio of dishes, perhaps rather strongly flavoured. Certainly, I was glad I’d left this mouthful to the end.
Next, a tiny beer and treacle sourdough loaf arrived, still warm from the oven with a pat of homemade butter. Served with the first pairing of the evening, Costwold IPA, it was delicious although I felt that the beer, in particular, was misplaced. I’d really enjoyed the delicate amuse-bouche and had sipped on the remains of my Gusbourne with those. This was just a bit too much of a contrast for me.
I did enjoy the next dish, Old Winchester cheese in a creamy sauce with a soft mushroom veloute and topping of black truffle crispy duck, mushroom and wild rice. Packed with umami flavours yet still delicate and fragrant, this tasted as good as it looked.
Mallory Salad with lovage curd, Fosse Way honey reduction, seeds and grains was the kind of vegetarian dish I really enjoy – where the textural contrasts mean you don’t miss the meat. The dish included heritage carrots, salt-baked celeriac, kohlrabi and kale – and was a good foil for the appley crisp glass of Elgar white wine from Lovell’s vineyard in Welland.
The next dish, described as Surf and Turf, comprised some beautifully cooked diver caught scallops, a morsel of Blythburgh pork belly, a delicious dashi sauce and a really quite potent redcurrant ketchup, topped with popped rice.
While each element on the plate was delicious, I found the redcurrant ketchup a little overwhelming. The presentation was immaculate though and the Viognier served as part of the wine flight made a good pairing.
I’m a sucker for a plate of venison and loved the wild fallow venison with butternut squash, crosne (Japanese artichoke), cavola nero and Roscoff onion. Perfectly cooked and served with a sticky reduction, this was a delicious and pretty plateful.
The Sicilian Nero d’Avola served with the venison was a good pairing option but would have been improved had it been served in a red wine glass allowing it to breathe properly.
Something from Nothing was the quirky name given to the pre-dessert of sourdough ice cream, toasted barley and lemon curd. A pretty good something which was just enough more than a palate cleanser without being overly filling and spoiling the final act.
A classic Valrhona chocolate ganache with blood orange and pistachio served immaculately and accompanied by a glass of Moscato from Asti. I found the wine a little sweet and light as a pairing, though I appreciate that is very much personal taste.
Had I been VERY hungry there were two extra courses for a supplement, a cured salmon dish and a cheese course with local cheeses, pickled grapes and truffled honey. And, I did round the meal off with coffee and nougat, passion fruit and fudge served in my room.
For the most part, the cooking and presentation of the food were exemplary and service was consistently attentive and helpful throughout. I felt there were a few cul de sacs in the tasting menu and I really missed proper glassware for my wine flight. I’d probably pick my own wines if I were to dine at The Dining Room again simply because the IPA served mid-menu didn’t work for me. But food and drink is all about personal taste and there was nothing here that rang major alarm bells.
I’d fully intended getting up early to use the spa before breakfast. But, I slept far too well and staggered downstairs in the morning.
Breakfast is served in different parts of the hotel depending on where your room is. That means the dining room in the Manor House is calm and relaxed with just a few guests. There’s a cold buffet and an a la carte on offer, with plenty of staff on hand to make sure if you DO happen to have managed that morning constitutional, you won’t go hungry for long.
Purely in the interest of research, I indulged in a full English, and thoroughly enjoyed the excellent quality sausage and bacon, with black pudding, mushrooms and tomatoes.
And then, I did go for a walk around the gardens and to use the spa…I needed something to help!
It was a great, relaxing place for a break. Just over an hour and a half from Marylebone station to Leamington, the hotel is a 10-minute taxi journey from the town centre. What’s more, it’s convenient for any number of things to do in the area, it’s eight miles from Stratford upon Avon and the various Royal Shakespeare Company theatres, within striking distance of Mary Arden’s Farm and a stone’s throw from the Shakespeare Gin Distillery. The hotel organises trips to the distillery for tours and tastings and I was lucky enough to go along myself – more of that in my next feature.
Finally, Mallory Court Country House Hotel and Spa have their own range of events including Lunch and Flower workshop with Sarah Horn Botanicals on 23rd April for £55 and a Fork to Fork lunch in the Manor House on 10th of June where you can enjoy lunch, a glass of English sparkling wine, canapes and a garden tour for just £39.50. There are always spa offers both for day guests and residents and there’s a delicious afternoon tea in the Manor House.
The hotel has both full wheelchair accessible rooms and semi accessible rooms with walk-in bathrooms. And, if the formal menu of The Dining Room doesn’t appeal, there’s a two rosette brasserie and a cafe in the Spa.
And, what makes this place really stand out are the charming and friendly staff. It’s hard to crack that balance between being over-fussy and properly attentive. Here, both in the restaurant and reception, they really did get it!
Mallory Court Hotel & Spa,
T: 01926 330214
Disclosure: I was a guest of Mallory Court Hotel and Spa – all content is editorially given and I was under no obligation to write a review.