Looking for a hotel where dinner will be just as impressive as the surroundings? From fine dining restaurants at iconic hotels to rustic kitchens at cosy country inns, these hotels were made for foodies…
Six decades on from its inception, the Four Seasons brand remains synonymous with luxury – and its Hampshire branch is no exception. A restored Georgian manor house surrounded by 500 acres of parkland, the hotel has a rich history, most notably having acted as the backdrop for Henry VIII’s first meeting with Catherine of Aragon. While lovingly upholding its traditional heritage, a recent multi-million-pound refurbishment has propelled the hotel into a new league. This involved the introduction of a new restaurant: Wild Carrot, designed by Martin Brudnizki – who has furnished everywhere from The Ivy to Annabel’s. Named after the white wildflower that grows in Dogmersfield Park, the grand yet intimate dining room looks out over the picturesque grounds, with a mixture of cosy booths and larger wooden tables. Here ‘local and seasonal’ is not just a trendy slogan, but a big part of the restaurant’s ethos. Executive Chef Paolo Belloni believes in simplicity: that good ingredients will show themselves without the need for fancy adornment. Food at Wild Carrot is fresh and flavoursome, and you can really taste the quality of the ingredients. Their summer offerings include a perfectly fresh and creamy buratta starter served with candied beetroot; wild sea bass with Jerusalem artichokes; and a Surrey Farm dry-aged rib-eye, which we can honestly say is one of the best steaks we’ve ever had. Desserts are equally dazzling – the Seasonal Vacherin is particularly good, and the self-serve cheese buffet is hard to resist. All this is topped off with an impressive wine and cocktail list, highly knowledgable sommeliers and slick service: a winning combination.
The iconic Balmoral hotel has stood at Edinburgh’s most prestigious address for over a century, a landmark in the city centre. There are two fine restaurants there: the Michelin-starred Number One, and Brasserie Prince headed up by renowned father-chef duo Michel and Alain Roux. At the former, expect exquisitely presented creative dishes made from the finest Scottish produce, such as North Sea cod with pickled clams and tarragon; and Highland Wagyu beef with smoked bone marrow and beetroot. Brasserie Prince, meanwhile, celebrates a ‘new alliance’, matching Scottish produce with classic French cooking. While reminiscent of an elegant French brasserie, it remains warm and down-to-earth, serving everything from breakfast to seafood platters.
An idyllic retreat overlooking Gerrans Bay on the Roseland Peninsula, Driftwood offers Michelin-starred cooking courtesy of chef Chris Eden. Despite its top end accolades, food is by no means pretentious, but creative and wholesome – a celebration of the best Cornish produce. On the dinner menu you’ll find rock oysters with caviar; salt baked celeriac; herb glazed lamb loin; mushroom risotto and plenty more locally sourced delights. There are also five and eight course tasting menus, a vegetarian menu and an afternoon tea offering. All this is to be enjoyed alongside sea vistas, glorious both day and night.
The name to know here is culinary director Skye Gyngell, who you’ll be familiar with from her work at Spring, Somerset House. Her seed-to-plate philosophy goes further than any other, with almost nothing going to waste, and menus carefully planned around seasonal, estate-grown ingredients. A Georgian family home rewoven into a luxury country hotel, Heckfield Place has its own biodynamic farm, providing fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs and honey to its on-site restaurants. Skye Gyngell recently announced plans to open a new dining space there: The Sun House, a light-filled glasshouse serving dishes inspired by Heckfield-grown produce. This will join the hotel’s two other restaurants, Marle and Hearth – both great eateries centred around simplicity and seasonality.
A privately owned hotel in Hampshire set across 300 acres of land, Rudding Park is considered one of the best places to dine in Harrogate. The 3 AA Rosette Horto Restaurant uses seasonal ingredients from the kitchen garden, manned by resident gardener Adrian Reeve. Sample dishes include pork tortellini; Cornish turbot with mussel and parsnip; and a treacle tart with birch syrup and brown butter, which can be paired with a selection of wines.
The food philosophy of one of the country’s finest hotels Chewton Glen is ‘live to eat, not eat to live’ – a motto we can definitely get on board with. The Dining Room stretches across five rooms, offering a nexus of conservatories and intimate dining spaces and serving everything from breakfasts to Sunday roasts. James Martin’s The Kitchen, meanwhile, is an informal restaurant with an open plan layout, serving wood fired pizzas, burgers, meat and fish dishes. Guaranteed great food wherever you choose to dine.
Who can resist popping into a traditional English pub on a village green? On entering The Kingham Plough you would think: so far, so traditional. There’s real ale on tap, real locals on the wooden benches, scotch eggs and chips on the blackboard menu, and steak and kidney pie on the specials. Except there’s a twist – dining here is not your typical pub, or even gastro-pub, fare. Co-owner Emily Watkins, formerly with Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck, is in the kitchen with numerous awards under her belt. Foodies flock here for her highly creative interpretations of bygone British dishes, often based on old Cotswold recipes. They then stay on for the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere she and her husband, Miles Lampson, have maintained throughout the pub – in the bar and dining room as well as the charming bedrooms upstairs, which are all equipped with hotel-style comforts. Eat well, sleep well.
The Dorchester’s bucolic cousin, Coworth Park is an 18th century country house hotel located around 45 minutes drive from London. Adam Smith heads up the now Michelin-starred restaurant, which serves up the best of British ingredients – think Waterford Farm salt-aged beef; Yorkshire duck; Native lobster; and celeriac and truffle pie. For a more rustic and relaxed dining experience, The Barn is your best bet, offering a brasserie-style menu amid informal settings. Veggie burgers, roast cod and cheese soufflé all feature, plus a tantaslising selection of puddings including an ice chocolate mousse and an apricot and almond tart.
It doesn’t get much more authentic than Coombeshead Farm. Set across 66 acres of Cornish countryside, Coombeshead is a self-sufficient entity, complete with a beautiful farm, guesthouse and restaurant, headed up by chefs Tom Adams and April Bloomfield. There’s also a wine cellar featuring vintages from Tom’s brother’s micro-vineyard in the South of France, a beehive, and a bakery run by Ben Glazer. Food is served in the feasting barn, which offers an ever-changing menu dependent on what’s growing and ready from the smokehouse and pickling rooms. For dinner, dishes could include fresh cheese and preserved courgette, onion broth & miso, pheasant sausage and elderberry, josterberry sorbet – everything produced on-site, of course. Come breakfast, guests can tuck into fresh eggs with griddled home-cured pork belly, bacon and sausage. Coombeshead is a true gem.
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