On a sweltering day in July, as we inhaled a fresh watermelon, mint and feta salad from our sun loungers (situated next to a bubbling hot tub) and sipped down pale Rose clinking with ice, Calcot felt like a Tuscan Villa complex. Or perhaps an ancient Roman Villa, such is the decadence. There’s a cracking log fire on the go in a shaded area. Unnecessary, yes, undoubtedly, but the sight and smell of it was rather wonderful.
Impressive indoor and outdoor pools, a state of the art gym, a tennis court, jacuzzi, and an extensive array of beauty treatments, Calcot Spa is a kind of heaven on earth, and when the English summer is in full swing, there’s quite literally nowhere you’d rather be. Apart from perhaps sitting outside the excellent ‘Conservatory Restaurant’ with the view of the lavender and golden corn fields beyond.
After a delicious ‘Chase’ G and T with basil in the gorgeous drawing room (think Oka but more expensive), I started with a beef tartare with soft boiled quails egg, charcoal emulsion and pickled shallot. The steak was of unusually high quality, which may have explained the rather small portion, but is was a real winner and has to go down as one of the best steak tartares in memory. The crumbed Cornish turbot, lemon mash, brown shrimp and grilled leek was beautifully prepared and the delicately crumbed fish worked really well with the zingy lemon mash.
After the meal, we popped next door to the more casual Gumstool Inn, which is a fantastic addition to the hotel, and I ate a moist sticky toffee pudding with a banana ice cream; simply perfect. This separate dining and drinking area provides a totally different experience to the Conservatory Restaurant, and it must be hugely popular.
The bedroom was set in one of the many outbuildings, and was spacious and tastefully decorated with calming pastel shades and had a supremely comfortable bed. My only complaint would be the lack of air conditioning, but to be fair to Calcot, it was unusually hot weather.
We just had to return to our spot outside with those views again for breakfast. A full English, packed with locally sourced loveliness was followed by several croissants with French butter, and some great coffees and it was the perfect way to start our day (admittedly another day of luxuriating.)
I was extremely impressed with my first Calcot experience, and I can only hope that my next visit isn’t too far away.
To book your special stay at Calcot, call 01666 890391 or visit http://www.calcot.co