Muddy reviews: The Grosvenor Hotel, Stockbridge
Freshly-renovated with luxe, stylish interiors, new owners have put the Grosvenor Hotel in Stockbridge back on the map for destination dining
A handsome, 18th century Georgian hotel – probably the most iconic in Stockbridge with its distinctive ‘porte-cochère’ coach gate – The Grosvenor is a stone’s throw from the banks of the River Test, an area famed for its fly-fishing and wonderful country walks. If fishing isn’t your thing, fear not: the Grosvenor is surrounded by gorgeous, Muddy-approved boutique shops and cafés. Part way through a multi-million pound renovation, new management has stripped away tired décor and transformed it into a relaxing retreat, successfully marrying tradition with a fresh modern interior touches, taking it back to the destination hotel it deserves to be.
Stepping through the imposing coach-gated lobby entrance with its original wood panelled interiors and bar, you find a relaxed, friendly place to hang out, with everyone welcome. When we visit, the local, well-heeled country-set and glammed-up, out-of-towners are all here and enjoying a good night out. The cosy bar has an open fire and velvet chairs you can sink into, right next to the high ceiling dining room lit by candles and original wall lights. Light and airy with accents of lime green, there’s a fabulously imposing antique mirror at one end, a baby grand piano at the other, and central table of the most exquisite hydrangeas that I’ve seen in a while.
Mews bedrooms – transformed by interior designer Lottie Keith – and much-requested garden rooms open up to wonderful flower filled terraces perfect for a private afternoon tea. Landscaped beautifully, there’s lots of space to have an aperitif or after dinner drink next to outdoor heaters in the winter, or a refreshing Aperol cocktail in the summer.
We stayed in the oak-beamed, expensively-appointed Hayloft Suite – a cut above your bog-standard hotel room, to say the least. Owner Stephen Henderson tasked Alex Lewis with this interior and he successfully hit the brief: the rooms ooze with modern luxe mixed with a timeless, antique feel.
It was so chic and cosseting I was tempted to claim squatters’ rights and never go home. For a start, the suite had a comfy lounge, dining room (yes they will come and serve dinner at your private table if you wish), a hidden kitchenette with Nespresso machine, freshly chilled milk in a pretty little jug and fab toaster, white marble shower room and an oak beamed bedroom with its own bath at the end of your bed. Private and tucked away from the other guests, I genuinely could have stayed there the weekend and not come out. They’d thought of every detail including a TV hidden in the bedroom desk – very James Bond – and even a cosy dog bed for my black Lab to curl up on (if I’d known, I’d have brought her). And oh, the beds… enormous, sleep-inducing slabs, dressed with crisp linen and a Dusk-label cotton waffle throw.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Since lockdown lifted, The Grosvenor has become a hot destination for Londoners and locals escaping to Stockbridge for a culinary experience. The dining room on a Saturday night was busy but comfortably socially distanced. The menu catered for all tastes from rare-breed Dexter burgers to pan fried halibut and tarragon. Our French waiter, John, walked us through the menu highlighting all the locally-sourced produce, a particular focus for chef Neil Cooper, while we sipped on a fabulous local G&T from the Test River Distillery, Winners of 2020 World Gin Awards, Best English Gin, no less.
No sooner had we finished starters of citrus-cured Chalk Stream trout and seared scallops with tempura prawns, we were delighted by mains of Broughton Farm buffalo and local partridge and wild mushroom chasseur. Each course was beautifully presented and exceptionally tasty. Despite best intentions, we then tucked into salted caramel tarte with blueberries, and the smelliest cheese board ever, so ripe that it practically was walking off the wooden server plate.
As for drinks, the wine list was so extensive we looked to the waiter who recommended carafes of New Zealand Ana Sauvignon blanc and the Argentinian Chamuyo Malbec to match our meals. I have to give it to him; they were the perfect accompaniments.
Next morning, breakfast in the smaller wood-panelled dining room was a more formal and traditional affair. Lots of accomplished horse race winners are etched on the listed walls and looked down over our shoulders while we tucked into The Grosvenor full breakfast and Stockbridge-sauteed mushrooms on squidgy doorsteps of thick toast, oozing with butter.
OUT & ABOUT
There are plenty of smart independent shops and boutiques on the High Street including Gaynor and Muddy-favourite The Owl & The Pussycat. Don’t miss Eastwood’s Fine Art gallery and, if you’re in need of some fishing kit, Robjents outdoor sporting shop.
You can stride out and walk along the River Test on an easy circular walk looking for fish in the shallows or try fly-fishing and shooting activities organised with the hotel. Further afield, you’re a short-ish drive from Highclere Castle, the fictional home of Downton Abbey (25 mins), Mottisfont Abbey (10 mins), Stonehenge (25 mins) and Salisbury Cathedral (20 mins).
GOOD FOR: A romantic, relaxing weekend ‘home from home’ that’s family and dog-friendly. If you happen to be hooked on fly fishing, you’ll be in your absolute element.
NOT FOR: A budget break – it’s a luxe treat but an experience worth paying for.
THE DAMAGE: Dinner, bed and breakfast ranges from £250-£280. In the restaurant, starters were around £8, mains £18 and desserts £8, bringing it to £34 per head without wine.