Nestled into the Wiltshire countryside by the banks of the River Wylye, the Bishopstrow hotel offers a warm welcome and relaxing country escape.
The Bishopstrow hotel is a traditional country house hotel, which dates back to 1817 and has retained its period charm. Easily accessible, the hotel is about 30 minutes drive from Bath, and located close to multiple attractions, including the Longleat Adventure and Safari Park, and Stone Henge.
The rooms have all recently been refurbished, but maintain many original features including ornate fireplaces, bay windows and high ceilings. The onsite Mulberry restaurant serves fresh and imaginative cuisine and the activities and spa onsite mean that everything you need is at your fingertips, leaving you at leisure to sit back, relax and enjoy your country escape.
We arrived early to the main house where we were greeted by a very friendly and helpful receptionist. She helped us check in, and told us that we were welcome to use the facilities until our afternoon tea reservation. A gentleman came to give us a tour of the house, so we left our luggage at reception, and took our bathers so that we could enjoy a quick swim in the pool.
He showed us where the lounge and library areas were, along with the restaurant where dinner and breakfast was served and walked through to the spa reception, and changing rooms. We were also told that tennis equipment was available along with use of the court through the spa reception.
The spa area of the hotel was a little confusing, as the sauna and steam room was located separately to the indoor pool and jacuzzi. It would have been helpful if he’d explained that we could get towels from spa reception, and that the pool access was through the changing rooms, but we figured it out with some help from other guests.
Available for use by guests at the hotel are both indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools, a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and monsoon shower experience. Four treatment rooms are also available for booked treatments, a relaxation suite, along with a rash mud therapy room (also bookable). We hadn’t booked any treatments and were content with using the pool, jacuzzi and steam room facilities. The spa is also used by members, but it was never particularly busy while we were there, which was around 2pm on a Friday afternoon, and again at around 10am on Saturday morning. Children are given restricted hours to use the swimming pool, which means that they can still enjoy the facilities without disrupting guests and members at other times of the day.
We relaxed for about an hour in the spa before changing and making our way back to reception to check into our room before afternoon tea.
There is a total of thirty-two rooms and suites on offer at Bishopstrow Hotel, and each has been refurbished to a very high standard. The rooms range in design and size from the smaller classic and club rooms, which each boast their own unique personality and are located both in the main house and ground floor of the courtyard, to the more spacious superior and deluxe rooms spread throughout the house, courtyard and hotel, and the opulent Oval room, which was originally the master bedroom of the house, along with three luxury suites which are located in the courtyard.
We were booked into the Oval room, which lived up to its name. The room itself was huge, and featured a large sofa at the base of a large king size bed, ornate fireplace, and dressing table. Behind the bed was a raised tiled platform on which stood two freestanding roll top baths from which you could enjoy the view over the grounds through the tall bowed windows. Off the side of the room was an ensuite, with vanity and rainforest shower.
On the dresser, we’d been left liquor truffles and a bowl of fresh fruit complete with bananas, redcurrants, blueberries, apples and oranges. We snacked on some of the berries but refrained from eating too much in preparation for dinner.
We were booked in for a festive afternoon tea, which we enjoyed in the library. The room was cosy and festively decorated with Christmas tree and decorations along the mantle piece. The waitress was friendly, and happily accommodated a request to sit in the library instead of the lounge.
She brought out glasses of house-made mulled wine, along with our requested pots of tea, followed by our tiers of sandwiches, scones and cakes. The festive tea menu was a spin on the standard afternoon tea menu. The waitress didn’t talk us through what was in the sandwiches, and the different cakes, which would have been a nice and helpful touch, but I’d had a cheeky look at the menu online so had a pretty good idea of what we could expect. we made our way through the sandwiches and scones, but were defeated by the cakes, only making a small dent in them before heading back to our room, well and truly satisfied.
Dinner is served in the Mulberry restaurant, which is a large and open dining area with a more modern feel to it than the rest of the hotel.
We’d booked dinner for later than we normally would, as we expected not to be too hungry for a while after the afternoon tea. Before dinner, we went to relax in the lounge by the fire with a drink. I opted for a gin martini, and my partner went for a gin and tonic. We were also brought the festive and a la carte menus to browse while we enjoyed our drinks, as well as the wine list.
A waiter from the restaurant took our order from the lounge, happily accommodating my request for a main from the festive menu, and entrée from the a la carte. Soon after, he returned and took us to our prepared table.
For starters, I enjoyed the garlic pigeon kiev, which was served with a mulled wine syrup, raisins and crunchy candied walnuts, and my partner enjoyed the beetroot and sesame cured hake, which was accompanied with sake jelly, pickled ginger, celeriac remoulade and balsamic glaze. The fish was presented beautifully, and tasted wonderful, and the pigeon had the ability to take me back to childhood with the familiar crumbed meat and subtle release of garlic butter in each morsel.
To accompany our mains, we ordered wine by the glass – opting for the 2009 Rioja Crianza. I had ordered the roasted butternut squash tagliatelle from the festive menu, and my partner had gone for the coriander glazed duck breast, which was served with sweet braised red cabbage, pomme anna, butternut squash, buttered kale and red wine jus. Both mains were delicious.
Feeling rather satisfied following my main, I was thinking of skipping dessert, but the iced tangerine parfait, with kumquat compote and blood orange and cinnamon sorbet tempted me into submission.
My partner joined me but opted for the selection of West Country cheeses. The desserts arrived and I was glad to have been swayed, the parfait was delicious and flavours divine; it was light and refreshing, not overly sweet and a perfect way to finish off the evening. My partner also enjoyed his cheese, however, it would have been nice if the waitress had talked him through the different cheeses or if cheese notes were provided to explain the selection, and for future reference.
Breakfast was also served in the Mulberry restaurant. Fresh tea and coffee was offered to us as we sat, and we went to peruse the continental selection.
The continental breakfast included a range of fresh pastries, cereals, fresh and dried fruits, along with yoghurt and fresh juices. There was also a hot breakfast menu which, while not extensive, offered a full English breakfast as well as poached haddock, free-range omelette, grilled kipper, porridge, or salmon bagel with scrambled eggs.
Bishopstrow Hotel and Spa is a quaint and authentic country house hotel. We thoroughly enjoyed the spa facilities, and the food served at the mulberry restaurant was exceptional. The staff were friendly throughout our stay, but a little extra information provided on the show round, and explanations on some dishes that we enjoyed would have been helpful. The setting is idyllic, and weather permitting we’d encourage a stroll down the path to the banks of the River Wylye. All in all, Bishopstrow is a wonderful way of stepping back and taking some time out to relax.