The hospitality industry has had a particularly rough time over the past few months. Some venues are tentatively taking their first steps towards welcoming guests back, testing the water and slowly finding their way towards the ‘new normal’ when it comes to dining and leisure activities.
But Rookery Hall isn’t just ‘some venue’. The team at Rookery Hall absolutely nailed it first time.
This was our first hotel stay since the easing of lockdown restrictions and to be honest we didn’t really know what to expect. Luxury hotel breaks should be exactly that, Luxurious. A well-earned reprieve from the stresses of everyday life for a day or two. I guess my concern was that the necessary safety measures required within the hotel would somehow detract from that feeling of escapism. I’m pleased to report that my worries were entirely unfounded. The team at Rookery Hall have adapted perfectly, and although certain things feel different (Perspex screens at reception, temperature checks on arrival and service with facemasks) it all felt very comforting, rather than alienating or intrusive. I think that’s a reflection of the attitude and professionalism of the lovely people that work here. They clearly have their guests’ experience at the forefront of their minds and it really shows.
Okay so back to the hotel… It’s a true Cheshire retreat. Easily accessible from Manchester, Stoke and everywhere in between, it boasts 70 bedrooms and a Spa complex worthy of the ‘Five Bubble Spa’ award since 2008. Not bad eh? Recent refurbishments have been undertaken since the new General Manager Tim O’Sullivan came aboard – A devilishly charming guy who will actively encourage you to try all the local gins served behind the bar; Tim has a wealth of hospitality management experience behind him and admitted to ‘having his eye’ on Rookery Hall for some time prior to getting the top job. The place will undoubtedly go from strength to strength under his leadership.
The sun was shining so a drink on the sprawling terrace towards the rear of the hotel was our first order of business. The grounds of Rookery Hall are meticulously maintained and the views of the surrounding Cheshire countryside just picture-perfect. Add to this a cold glass of Sauvignon, a mezze sharing platter and a cheese board – does it get any better than that? No. we don’t think so either. Weather permitting, we highly recommend Al-Fresco dining if you choose to visit. You will be hard pressed to find their perfect combination of surroundings and quality of both food and service.
There is a bedroom for every taste and budget, from their classic doubles to feature suites. We stayed in a deluxe double located in the executive wing, offering an abundance of space and a huge bay window overlooking the grounds. Tastefully decorated in neural and pastel tones yet maintaining a country-chic feel, it felt contemporary and refined. The television set into the tiles in the bathroom was a nice little reminder that this was most certainly a luxury country hotel, not just a hotel in the country with a few luxury touches.
I don’t know about you but good food is pretty high on my list of priorities when picking out a hotel for a weekend break. The restaurant at Rookery Hall boasts an AA Rosette for its contemporary British dishes, and a menu that changes regularly depending on seasonal availability of the best local produce. We were treated to a quintessentially British taster menu crafted by Executive Head Chef Jason Hodnett, the stars of which (in my humble opinion) were his take on traditional fish and chips; a semi-deconstructed dish with a beautiful piece of fresh fish sat on a bed of pea purée, topped with petit-pois and beautiful curls of crispy batter. So simple, but perfectly executed; a truly memorable dish. And then there was the hazelnut ganache topped with crispy granola. This dessert was as rich and moreish as you’d expect it to be, perfectly paired with a lime sorbet to provide a sharp citrus contrast to the decadent chocolate. Absolute bliss, bravo chef.
Do you want to enjoy exceptionally good food and drink in luxurious surroundings post-lockdown? Do you want to do that in a place with rigorous cleanliness and hygiene standards that will in no way negatively impact your experience? If so, I suggest that you give the team at Rookery Hall a call or book online. They will be delighted to show you how it’s done.
Words by Tom Bradley