Stoke Park is a paradox. It is stunning & colourful, innovative & traditional, historical & contemporary, all in one location. With a history dating back to 1066 when William The Conqueror gave it to William de Stoke whose daughter Amicia married Sir Robert Poges. Hence the local village is Stoke Poges.
Already a ton of history and we've only gotten as far as the address!
Notable owners and residents have included Queen Elizabeth I, King Charles I and John Penn (of Pennsylvania fame).
In 1908, Stoke Park became Britain's first Country Club, sporting a 27-Holes Golf Course, Tennis Courts, Cricket Grounds and, of course, Polo Fields.
The 350 acres of Stoke Park are accessed via a long sweeping drive, at the end of which you cross the golf course and approach the beautiful mansion. Scanning to the right you see the equally attractive new spa pavilion.
This venue really does have it all; the parkland golf course is world-renowned. The health and fitness spa enjoys the most up to date facilities and uses the best quality health and beauty treatment products.
The Club is no stranger to the rich and famous. James Bond of 007 fame is a frequent visitor. In the guise of Goldfinger's Sean Connery, he played golf and in the guise of Tomorrow Never Dies's Pierce Brosnan, he made love to Teri Hatcher in the ballroom. It's here that Oddjob decapitated one of the club's statues with his bowler hat and that Hugh Grant and Renee Zellweger rowed the lake for Bridget Jones's Diary.
Every moment of our visit oozed luxury, from our stunning individually decorated bedroom, marble under floor heated bathroom, to our visit of the £14,000,000 spa with its huge tropical fish tank, luxury indoor swimming pool and lawn green carpeted indoor tennis courts.
The club has the most creative and flexible set of membership packages imaginable (over 70 variations). So you pay for what you individually want, even with a joint membership. For our American frequent visitors to the UK this is a superb destination offering Overseas and Corporate Memberships and being extremely easy to get to from London.
The social (over 35 member events a year), and sporting calendar is extensive, ranging from casual, jazz enhanced, barbeques (which I can witness are exemplary) to The Bond Ball (one of the world's most elegant, which I missed). Each year Stoke Park hosts the world famous Boodle & Dunthorpe Champions Challenge; a 4 day extravaganza of tennis, well established as a more intimate warm up to Wimbledon for some of the world's best tennis players.
During our stay at the Club, we did of course partake of the restaurant service. The chef, Chris Wheeler's background includes Novelli Restaurants, Four Seasons London, Provence Restaurant and Domaine De Basable Hotel - all Michelin Star experiences. We ate in the Park Restaurant, the décor of which is delightful, with Frank Sinatra singing quietly in the background. The service was prompt, polite and friendly.
I commenced the meal with St Andre Onion Veloute with Carmelised Red Onion and Brie Croutons. The onions were sweet and chewy - a great change for a veloute and the brie was a really nice touch.
Janet's main course was Foi Gras Crusted Roast Fillet of Beef with Spinach, Leeks, Vine Cherry Tomatoes, Pont-Neuf, and Madeira Sauce. The crispy Foie Gras was delicious on the somewhat bland beef. My chef's dish of the day was Veal with Parma Ham Cordon Bleu and creamy cheese coated in breadcrumbs with chives. Very subtle, well-blended and complimentary flavours.
The dessert menu is particularly creative, from which J chose Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Roasted Sesame Ice Cream. This was delicious, the ice cream being stunning.
Now greedy, I elected for the Selection of English Desserts consisting of Sticky Toffee Pudding, Sherry Trifle, Bread and Butter Pudding, and Apple and Blackberry Crumble. All of these were superbly presented and I would highly, highly commend them to the American visitor adventurous enough to explore this aspect of British cuisine.
In the morning we had breakfast in the Orangery, which offers dramatic views of the grounds and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the summer sun. That breakfast and the others I've enjoyed since then are exceptional and surprisingly well priced.
Stoke Park's list of accolades is second to none and it's hotel and sports affiliations impressive.
This is truly the place to stay whether travelling on business or pleasure, seeking a quiet afternoon in smart surroundings, honeymooning or planning an exceptional business event. Stoke Park Club and the Park Restaurant must be considered "up there" with the likes of the Negresco Hotel and Chantecler.