Is there anything better, than going to the countryside in the summer? I think not! I can not tell you, how excited I was about leaving our warm London-based flat last weekend to stay at the most beautiful spa hotel in breathtaking surroundings…
Clara and I had just returned from a trip to Denmark, where the weather was really bad – so we were happy to be back in the sunny UK. Here we are at Marylebone Station all set for new adventures in Royal Leamington Spa. (Clara is enjoying her brand-new Silver Cross Pop lightweight pushchair in the most gorgeous colour “Blush”)
Bonus-info: A train-ride from London to Royal Leamington Spa takes about 1 hour and 20 mins. (I prefer going by train, when bringing Clara, as it is a lovely way of spending time together)
What is even more clever is becoming a member of Enterprice Car Club
It is quite simple really… When you are a member of Enterprice Car Club, you have access to over 1100 vehicles all across the UK (and at / nearby over 250 train stations!) This means, that you can take the train to most places – and the car, that you have booked in advance, will be waiting there for you! Most of the cars are hybrid (like ours), which makes the journey more environmental-friendly, than if you had driven in your own private car. Enterprice Car Club is cost-effective, as you can rent by the hour or day.
Welcome to beautiful Mallory Court Country House Hotel and Spa
It is hard not to fall instantly in love with Mallory Court Hotel…
Bonus-info: The hotel has been a proud member of Relais & Chateaux since 1983. Founded in 1954, the association celebrated 60 years in 1914 – it now spans some 60 countries across the globe with a current list of 530.
The beautifully grand Lutyens style main house is set in 10 acres of lush, green grounds
I honestly felt like a queen in my castle! Everything was so pretty, peaceful and quiet…
The sun was shining and it was lovely taking a stroll with Clara in the award-winning gardens
Mallory Court Hotel offers 43 beautiful bedrooms, a 3 AA Rosette restaurant, a 2 AA Rosette art deco brasserie and the popular Elan Spa
We stayed in the gorgeous Manor House Master bedroom
We loved the king size bed…
This little one did not want to sleep in her cot, when she had tried laying in my bed…
Nope! I am not leaving!
I am staying right here!
Now that is what I call “a room with a view!”
Spectacular view of the gardens and herb gardens, don’t you think?
Before dinner, I went to Elan Spa for a pedicure
Elan Spa is the ultimate spa experience and has been awarded 5 bubbles from the Good Spa Guide
It was quite busy, when I arrived, but I managed to get a photo of one of the luxurious couples treatment rooms!
I love getting a pedicure. As a busy mum and blogger it isn’t often, that I have the time for this kind of luxury!
Pretty feet and pretty dresses. We were ready for dinner!
But first a glass of bubbles and delicious canapés …
The award-winning oak panelled formal restaurant was located in the Manor house
One thing that I really, really like about this place is the staff. I can honestly say, I have never been treated as good, as I was treated here!
When we arrived, the manager and the chef came and said hello to us. The chef asked, if he could make something special for Clara, and I answered “she loves fries and sausages!” The chef laughed and said “How funny, that is my favourite dish too!” Got to love a fun and relaxed atmosphere! The rest of the staff was just as lovely! There basically wasn’t a thing, they didn’t do for us to make our stay as wonderful as possible!
Elderflower cured pollock, picked apple, toasted sunflower, seeds, garden flowers, tomato consommé, sparaxis grandiflora. So pretty that I didn’t want to eat it. But I did – and it was good!
Tartare of rose veal
Pan roasted Orkney scallop
Loin and belly of spring Cotswold lamb
– and last but not least, I had steak frites! (It actually wasn’t on the menu card, but the chef made an exception!) Did I mention how amazing the chef is at this place?
The food here was as delicious as expected! When it was time for dessert, Clara was not in the mood for sitting down anymore, so we kindly asked, if we could have our dessert in our room…
How can you not love everything about this hotel! We had a lovely dessert and Clara could watch Peppa Pig in the television in our room!
Good morning! Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day…
The combination of warm and cold food was everything I could possible desire
Classic English breakfast
Poached eggs and avocado on sourdough bread
Omelette… Mine was with cheese, ham and mushrooms! So good!
After a breakfast for champions, we were ready to explore…
We were kindly invited here by Shakespeare’s England. As you might know from a previous blog post, Stratford-Upon-Avon is the birthplace of famous poet William Shakespeare. It hasn’t been long, since we were last here, but what we didn’t get to do last time, was trying out the river cruises with Avon Boating
Established in 1898, Avon Boating is one of England’s oldest and largest traditional boating companies
Avon Boating operates a fleet of classic Edwardian passenger vessels on regular public cruises from the Bancroft Gardens next to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and offers a variety of private cruises for groups. From the old boathouse on the edge of the river bank, you can also hire rowing boats, punts, and self-drive motor boats.
It was a beautiful boat-ride, where we got to see Stratford from the sea
(Photo by Shakespeare’s England)
Clara and I in front of the Shakespeare Royal Company!
Want to know more about Stratford-Upon-Avon? Read it here!
It was goodbye to Stratford-Upon-Avon and hello to Compton Verney!
Compton Verney House is an 18th-century country mansion at Compton Verney near Kineton in Warwickshire, which has been converted to house the Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park.
At Compton Verney there is something for everyone to enjoy. 120 acres of stunning parkland and lake surround the award-winning art gallery…
It was lovely wandering through the historic Capability Brown landscape…
– with a family friendly café and gift shop
The delicious menu at Compton Kitchen includes homemade soup of the day, a range of bloomer and deli sandwiches, toasted paninis and a salad bar – where customers can create their own salads from a fresh selection. Bonus-info: Compton Kitchen is keen to support the local economy by sourcing local ingredients, with two-thirds of all suppliers used being based locally. (Oh, and younger guests can enjoy a half portion of any main meal)
Homemade cake and a cappuccino served with a lovely view! This made me happy!
Compton Verney’s impressive permanent collections focusses on six specific areas: 16th-century Germanic art, 17th-century Neapolitan art, British portraiture, Chinese bronzes, the largest collection of British folk art in the UK and the work of 20th-century textile designer Enid Marx
We were however mostly keen on the summer exhibition “A Tea Journey”
“A Tea Journey” takes you across time and continents to explore tea, its status as a muse, and its cultural significance throughout the centuries
Basically you follow the tea leaf from plant to pot, beginning with its roots in Chinese culture through to its adoption and appropriation into British society
Well, this comes as no surprise to me… So happy to live in such a tea-loving country
The exhibition includes over 150 works of art and tea-ware (from the Tang dynasty to the present day!)
I think that Clara found The Tea Sensorium most interesting
Here you can take part in a range of creative and multi-sensory activities…
We explored a variety of teas through our sense of smell…
– and we even designed our own tea-ware!
Bonus-info: The space also hosts a workshop, where you can add your own moulded clay creations to a giant collaborative installation (ideal for families)
After a lovely rest back at the hotel it was time for dinner
We had been kindly invited to The Cross at Kenilworth – a family-friendly Michelin awarded pub/ restaurant serving creative dishes in the most lovely surroundings.
We had delicious little cheese canapés to begin with – served with a nice bottle of Sancerre!
Clara was happy in her high chair excited about getting a big portion of french fries (and a lot of my salmon!)
Even though the restaurant is formal, the staff were lovely and more than happy to take their time to chat with Clara!
No doubt the this place is a culinary jewel, but the place is still very family-friendly, which gives The Cross another star from me. Crispy duck egg with smoked haddock, spring onion and potato and aged Berkswell cheese. This is the chef’s signature dish – and we loved every bite
My favourite dish was the Citrus cured Loch Duart salmon. It was also Clara’s favourite – which meant, that I had to share it with her. (I didn’t mind though. I love to see her little face, when she is eating something that makes her happy!)
Beautifully presented Terrine of ham hock, pickled vegetables and violet mustard
This is a must-have for carnivores like me! Hereford Ribeye served with triple cooked chips, onion rings and green salad! I still dream of this dish!
Pavé of beef sirloin with grilled mill piece onion, salt baked celeriac, ratte potato and red wine sauce. Don’t you just love the colours?
I love that The Cross spoils their guests with little extras. Before our desserts were served, we were treated with these beautifully presented petits fours
The Strawberry Tart was the prettiest of them all…
– But the Tiramisu with cocoa bean ice cream was the most tasty!
I would like to thank the staff at The Cross for treating us really well! It is not always easy bringing a very “busy” baby – but being around warm-hearted people makes it all much nicer! We had such a lovely time – and the food was SO delicious! Definitely worth a visit, if you are passing by!
It was a warm and lovely summer evening back at Mallory Court Hotel and Spa. Clara was asleep and it was time for us to pack our things and say goodbye! I really hope, we will come back another time
Sunday morning we left our hotel to go to my favourite outlet shopping place – Bicester Village! Now, if you haven’t heard of this place, it is not a minute too early!
Bicester Village had invited us to try out a VIP Shopping trip! (Who can say no to that? I was very excited) Here, Clara and I are enjoying the beautiful lounging area at “The Apartment” – a by-appointment-only space for VIP clients!
Besides from being given 10% discount on top of already reduced prices, we were also treated with the “Hands-free-shopping” service
Basically it works like this: You shop, Bicester collects. How perfect is this? No need to carry anything. You just pay in the shop and leave! By the end of the day, you get all your things at “The Apartment” ready for collection! We had valet parking, so our car was just outside the door. (Talk about shopping in style!)
Ready, set, go! Hello Polo Ralph Lauren! Clara and I were up for some serious luxury shopping!
Polo Ralph Lauren Kids – a separate store with a huge selection for children and babies
Bonus-info: At the moment you can save up to 70% off the recommended retail in some of the stores, so you can get some really good bargains, if you go to Bicester Village now. Bicester Village has more than 160 designer brands – most offering up to 60% off all year round!
Prada is one of the very popular boutiques in Bicester Village! It is a big store with plenty of opportunities to make most of your fashion dreams come true
If you were there on that day, and you heard a very tall lady saying “awwww” a LOT, it was probably me!
– and a matching pair for mummy! How lucky can one girl be? (Bonus-info: The ballerinas were about 50% off and Prada had most in all sizes – so it is definitely worth going to Bicester for luxury brands!)
Another favourite brand of mine is Lululemon! I can not get enough of their Yoga pants, and I ended up buying 3 pairs! (Can I just say, that I was VERY impressed with the staff here! Even though it was super busy, they ran around trying to help me with sizes and making room for Clara’s pram! Big thumbs up from me!)
Speaking of staff… Stuart Weizman has always been my go-to shoe brand
I always buy a pair of shoes or boots, when I am here. What really impresses me is, that the team here actually remembers me, even though I only come around twice a year. Amalia, the lady who often helps me, came and said “ohhh, how your little one has grown. I can still remember, when you were pregnant” Honestly… If this didn’t make me feel special, then I don’t know what does!
I could just buy everything in here!
This is not an ordinary outlet… This is probably the prettiest outlet, I have ever been to!
Flowers by famous London-based florist Nikki Tibbles
This was new to me. A wonderful playground for children! How brilliant it that!
All day café/ restaurant Wolseley is also new in the scenery! For someone who loves The Wolseley, this made me very happy!
Classic and colourful driving shoes from Tods
Gorgeous children’s wear from Cashmirino
I love the new glaced colours from Le Creuset and ended up bying a few things in here
No trip to Bicester Village without visiting Chloé! Read more about Bicester Village here!
I would like to thank:
for making this wonderful trip happen. Also I would love to hear your thoughts about this wonderful area of England or if you have any questions in general. Please feel free to comment in the section below