Waking up on a wet & miserable Sunday morning, it would have been quite easy to stay tucked up all day, declaring a ‘duvet day’. Instead, the agenda was to take a trip from Warwickshire along the traffic-free Fosse Way into the Cotswolds for a much needed night away, and in search of the sunshine!
The advantage of living in the centre of the country is the fact that you’re not too far away from a number of very picturesque, beautiful villages, towns and popular locations.
Setting off mid morning seemed a perfect plan in order to arrive in Cotswold Country for a spot of lunch. The Manor House Hotel in Moreton in the Marsh provided the perfect location for a quality, well presented lunch, with fantastic friendly, efficient service. From the moment of arrival to leaving for our onward journey, all staff that we had contact with we’re professional, smiley, passionate about customer service and genuinely looked like they wanted to be there. What I liked most was the simplest of things, and something that is so often forgotten in hospitality today – customer interaction leading to asking customers for another drink! Well…..it happened in the Cotswolds – and I always oblige when someone bothers to ask the question! Gold star for getting some more money out of me.
I also liked the element of trust – again something that is sometimes amiss in today’s ever increasing untrusting world. Not once was I asked for a swipe of my card, or to pay up front for the order – and this was in a busy hotel lounge area, filled with Sunday lunch guests, village folk and potential bride & grooms attending the hotel wedding fayre on that day. Even with all of that, the hotel team, were happy to serve us our refreshments and allow me to settle the tab at the end! Thanks for the trust – it reminded me of one of many visits to Venice where the same applies. I was however a bit confused as to the reason of charging £2.55 per card transaction at the Manor House – a bit steep in my opinion, especially on a sandwich lunch bill of £20 – but it didn’t take away the feel-good factor from the visit
Leaving the ‘lunch stop’ I hoped that the same standard of service would await me at Barnsley House Hotel & Spa – a boutique luxury hotel about another half hour or so down the Fosse Way. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, I had a certain personal expectation knowing that Barnsley House was in the Pride of Britain Hotels Consortium – a collection of superb hotels such as The Goring (you know, the one where Kate Middy stayed pre wedding), Kilworth House (yes, the one with the unique outdoor theatre) and also the 5 star Chester Grosvenor Hotel – so to be honest I expected the best!
Approaching the hotel through the village of Barnsley – automatically gave a feel of luxury and tranquility. We drove up the slight incline to the hotel entrance and found our way to the reception which is situated downstairs in the main house. We were given a familiarisation tour of the hotel by a friendly member of the team….in her wellies! This perhaps would be strange anywhere else, but not at Barnsley where a farm, fields and the countryside are all a step away. We were even offered a ‘loan pair’ of wellies if we wanted to trek out! Great idea. We were taken to our luxurious bedroom (Rm 14) – and here in my opinion is where simple things were done right.
A registration form on the desk for us to sign, so no lurking around reception, scribbling onto forms whilst trying to hold on to all of our luggage and clothes. Again no credit card details requested (quite rightly so, as I had provided these on booking). However, it is normal practice at hotels to get details again with a further swipe from you as soon as you arrive! Why? Surely this creates a question of trust.
So much to mention in the bedroom awaiting for us – a hand written welcome card from the Hotel General Manager; a quirky Do Not Disturb sign on slate; an array of local quality magazines; fresh milk for your morning cup of tea; fresh mint in the fridge for your drinks; beautiful hand crafted tied boxes to store shoe shines and toiletries; an iPod docking station; DVD player with a selection of movies; and a superb ‘Pantry’ of goodies (of which I had to sample). I especially like the individual torches attached to bedroom key fobs for when you are walking from the hotel or local village pub in the evening. It’s the little things that have been thought about to ensure guests have a memorable stay – and it’s these sort of things that cost very little, but mean so much.
The hotel are lucky to also own the Village Pub (which also has bedrooms) – a beautiful little retreat for even more relaxation and fantastic service. How surprising that without having to ask for a tour of the bedrooms, the offer from Zortan (a Hungarian bar man) was put forward within minutes of entering the pub – he is obviously very proud of where he works – and quite rightly so. He kindly showed us the standard of the rooms – the best you will probably find at a pub!
It was great to see 35+ people dining on a Sunday evening. But after sampling the menu, I understand why they were so busy – my first ever cheese soufflé, a perfectly cooked rump steak, a rhubarb crumble to die for – made even more enjoyable as it was served by a team willing to interact all evening! They knew they’d done well once I offered to buy all the team a drink. Their reaction to the offer and their gratitude was truly rewarding.
A truly superb venue that has so much to offer to its guests – beautiful gardens, a private cinema, a wonderful spa, complimentary WIFI, Sky HD in bedrooms – but to top it all, a wonderful Cotswold welcome from everyone and a continued level of excellent service throughout. The service had even started prior to the arrival via their social media sites (@Barnsley_House & @The_Village_Pub). The interaction and excitement building process was done with ease and professionalism, and this continued throughout the stay with responses to my tweets! So nice to see a venue grasping this amongst other things, and doing it well. Make sure you give them a follow!
A great find and a great recommendation by Pride of Britain Hotels. Would I come back? – sure thing – but not before I’ve ticked off all the remaining POB properties left try (for comparison purposes, you understand!).
Well done the Cotswolds – you’re doing wonders for the British hospitality industry – Keep up the good work – and thanks also for making the sun shine!
Why not check them out & make a trip to the Cotswolds soon:
Barnsley House Hotel & Spa
A member of Pride of Britain Hotels
The Manor House Hotel, Moreton in the Marsh
Thanks for reading.