Set within 700 acres of green Northamptonshire countryside, Whittlebury Park Hotel is a late-twentieth-century take on the classic English country house.
Grand houses had sat at the heart of the estate for centuries, though twice they had been ravaged by fire, and by the 1980s it was time to start again with a rebuild.
Although Whittlebury’s discrete exterior may lack the imposing grandeur of a timbered Tudor mansion or the brooding presence of a gothic-inspired Victorian house, the hotel takes a refined Georgian elegance as its muse. There are hints of that age’s admiration of the light balance of neo-classicism. In the spacious reception, full-length formal portraits from past ages and large oil landscapes echo the style of Constable and Gainsborough from bygone decades.
But this is a hotel built for comfort and contemporary expectations. The car park is huge, with spaces wide enough for today’s 4 x 4s and SUVs. Speedy lifts whizz you through the floors. Large en-suite bathrooms are purpose-built, unlike in so many country hotels where bathrooms are shoe-horned into the eaves. And as we head into an unnerving age of climate change, the air-conditioning is coolly effective and the heating efficiently goes about its business without drama – no air locks and gurgling pipes here.
In the public areas, the decor with its classical sculptures and luxuriant space pays homage to the spirit of Ancient Rome, creating a relaxed ambience. More recent history is remembered with several framed letters adorning the walls, in the late Princess Diana’s flowing handwriting. They warmly thank Maud Pendry, a housekeeper at Diana’s family home at Althorp, for her services.
Undoubtedly, the extensive spa, with countless treatment rooms and an encyclopaedia of a treatment menu, draws both spa day visitors and those checking in for a night or two or three of pampering. Close enough to Birmingham and London for easy access, Whittlebury Park is a favourite country escape for many an urbanite: a fraction south of the M1 and not far north of the M40, this resort is ideal for a short break.
An azure lagoon of an indoor swimming pool continues the Roman theme. Warm waters are surrounded by the ultimate outsize mural of the fading grandeur of a Roman villa on a blue cloudless skies day. Two whirlpools, a salt sauna, a steam room and numerous sun loungers build a sense of easy spaciousness. If that is all to hectic there’s a hushed relaxation room too. Mindfulness themed spa days help you to step back from frenetic everyday life and slip into meditation.
The long Silverstone Bar celebrates the legendary drivers whose heroics brought victories at the neighbouring Grand Prix circuit: Graham Hill, James Hunt, Michael Schumacher, Nikki Lauda and many more. Appropriately, crossing sports, it was Nigel Mansell, a former F1 world champion, who hit the first drive from the new first tee.
Similarly, Murray’s restaurant pays homage to Murray Walker who commentated on so many epic races at the historic track. Though with its light tones and elegant furniture Murrays is a sophisticated tribute, far from the wheel-jacks and oilcloths of a Silverstone pit-stop. It is an AA three rosette menu with a Modern British menu created by chef Harvey Lockwood. Two of the stand-out main course options, line-caught wild halibut and black-faced Thame lamb, not having travelled very many food miles at all, emphasise the quality of the sourcing.
Restaurants – there is also the more informal Astons and the Bistro by the spa – are just one part of Whittlebury Park’s appeal. Golfers are attracted to Whittlebury by four championship standard golf courses, which are combined to create a course of the day, a driving range and a putting green. At the end of a long day, golfers join the many spa aficionados, as they look to rejuvenate their bodies for the next challenge.
Tell Me More About Whittlebury Park Hotel
Whittlebury Park Hotel, Whittlebury, NearTowcester, NN12 8QH
T: 01327 850 489 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spa days start from £99 per person, to include a treatment, heat and ice experience, lunch and spa experience (including heat and ice).
Overnight spa packages start from £169 per person, to include a treatment, heat and ice experience, time poolside, lunch, three-course evening meal in the resort’s Astons restaurant, an overnight stay in a twin or double classic room and breakfast the following morning.