Brockencote Hall is perfect if you want to indulge your Edwardian toff fantasies – and enjoy some fabulous food
There is a chauffeur-driven car, a Chrysler 300, waiting at Kidderminster Station. It is wasted on me – a non-driver with a pathological aversion to anything ostentatious – but is a good primer for the luxury and hospitality offered at Brockencote Hall.
Part of the Eden Hotel Collection, which includes Leamington Spa’s Michelin-starred Mallory Court, Brockencote has undergone a £2m renovation, which, typical of the modern country house makeover, has transformed it into a blandly immaculate model of tasteful designer swank. There are tightly-striped couches that look like Paul Smith fabric swatches, costly wallpapers, thick carpets. Some guests will coo over it. You may crave idiosyncratic character. Brockencote is Victorian, but bar the library room’s wood-panelling or the lobby’s original patterned stone floor, you would not know.
That slight show-home sterility (it will look better, for instance, when the plants on the terrace are fully grown) continues in my room, one of its mid-range “superior” bedrooms. From the handmade oak furniture to the beige-y walls, it runs a dazzling colour gamut from sand to, erm, chocolate. If this sober room lacked personality, however, it made up for it in amenities.
Molton Brown toiletries, Teapigs and homemade biscuits, you might expect. But a shoehorn? Fresh fruit? A bottle opener and wine glasses? A fridge stocked with fresh milk and Wenlock spring water? And I could go on … About the civilised 11.30am check-out, the 6ft-wide bed, the bathroom’s underfloor heating, non-steam mirror and walk-in shower. At these prices, you might think such things come as standard. They don’t. This was an unusually thorough experience.
Such pampering continues throughout. Staff are warm and well-drilled. You would struggle to move, pour, open anything yourself. It might seem a bit much, at times, but it comes with the territory.
As does an ambitious fine-dining restaurant. Brockencote will not give Noma sleepless nights, it is traveling in the slipstream of the cutting-edge, but chef Adam Brown is clearly talented. Not every course wows, yet – quail arrives a perfect blushing pink accompanied only semi-successfully by a sweetcorn cream – but, at this level, dish design is a process of painstaking refinement. Already, this is cooking of rare accuracy, which at its ideal (seared scallop, baby squid, apple and fennel, a tiny pan juice giving it a smoky dimension; or local lamb, its fat seared to a tee, with creamy metallic sweetbread and sheep’s curd) delivers clear, well-constructed flavours. Come October 2013, were Brockencote to bag a Michelin star, it would come as no surprise.
The smart, sensitively-lit restaurant space is unusually atmospheric for a hotel too. Ultimately, it’s difficult not to be charmed by Brockencote. If you fancy playing the Edwardian toff, tootling between croquet lawn and bar, this is the place to do it.
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Submited at Saturday, August 4th, 2012 at 5:15 pm on Hotel by alliana
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