Despite being woken at 8am by two diggers building the outside swimming pool and ‘painfully slow’ service at breakfast, the Inspector thinks this Berkshire hotel will be a hit
- The Retreat at Elcot Park is halfway between Newbury and Hungerford
- It has 55 rooms, two restaurants, a swanky spa, a wine shop, a bakery and a cafe
- Remember, the Inspector pays his way… and tells it like it is
There’s a specially commissioned map in the reception area. It has the brand new Retreat at Elcot Park in West Berkshire at its centre, with sister hotel The Mitre at Hampton Court to the East — and soon will show the group’s latest acquisition on Rutland Water.
Suffice to say that Hector Ross’s Signet Collection is on a roll; his Canadian backer splashing the cash in admirable recession-defying ways.
The Retreat, halfway between Newbury and Hungerford, is a massive undertaking. In addition to the 55 rooms (the house once belonged to Lady Shelley, mother of Percy, the poet, and latterly was a dilapidated Mercure hotel), there are two restaurants, a swanky spa with hydropool, gym and salt float tank (opening next weekend); a wine shop, bakery and cafe, hairdresser and nail bar (all opening on Wednesday) and 16 acres of grounds.
The Inspector calls at The Retreat, halfway between Newbury and Hungerford. ‘In addition to the 55 rooms, there are two restaurants, a swanky spa with hydropool, gym and salt float tank (opening next weekend); a wine shop, bakery and cafe, hairdresser and nail bar (all opening on Wednesday) and 16 acres of grounds,’ he explains
Arriving last Friday, an open fire is blazing in the hall, a huge dog basket opposite it. Original art; portraits on the wall by the wide stairs; splashes of colour.
‘Would you like a glass of wine?’ asks a friendly meet-and-greet man who later whisks our bags to the room, which has bold wallpaper, striped headboard and an antique chest of drawers.
All arrivals are offered a complimentary glass — a generous touch after enduring the Smart motorway works on the M4.
A picture of The Retreat’s swanky Sutton Suite. Doubles are from £180 B&B
The Retreat at Elcot Park, Newbury, West Berkshire, RG20 8NJ.
Tel: 01635 800520 or visit retreatelcotpark.com.
The Orangery dining room is not finished and so we eat in 1772 (the year when the original house was built), where there’s a long, inviting bar. But it’s far too bright and the pianist is playing much too loudly.
No complaints about the food. Some of the pan-Asian dishes have migrated across the hall, which is no bad thing. The ‘crispy cauliflower popcorn’ with teriyaki and soy, and Japanese spatchcock chicken are superb.
We are woken at 8am by two diggers building the outside swimming pool and think it would be wise not to charge full price (£240 in our case) while part of the garden is still a construction site.
Service at breakfast is painfully slow. Teething problems, no doubt, and I suspect that the young and ambitious Mr Ross will soon iron out any wrinkles — and that The Retreat will become a big hit, both with locals and moneyed Londoners who can get here from the capital in less than 90 minutes.