Choice to indulge in sporting activities, to partake in a quiz, to relax in the swimming pool and spa, or just to sit back, drink in hand, and admire the breathtaking splendour of the surrounding Nottinghamshire countryside from the south-facing terrace, the added chance of a fleeting glimpse of white, red and fallow deer which roam the richly flower-festooned Thoresby Hall estate.
At Thoresby Hall you can tailor your weekend trip to however you want it, as fast or slow-paced as you like. This being a review my wife and I needed to cram in as much as we could into our Friday to Monday Late and Live Weekend Break and, wow, did we just about manage it!
Built from 1864-1871 this Grade 1-listed building was originally home to the 3rd Earl Manvers and over the years was owned by the National Coal Board and acquired by Warner Leisure Hotels in the 1990s.
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A £20 million-plus sympathetic refurbishment followed and every room exudes quality, comfort and class. Guests can now choose to stay in the elegant historic hall rooms or in more contemporary accommodation in the Hall’s annexe.
We gasped in wide-eyed amazement as we entered our Wortley Montagu historic suite, with its adjoining sitting room, four-poster Queen-sized bed, rolltop bath, oak-shuttered original windows, ceilings twice the height of the doors and a magnificent view out onto the manicured gardens and croquet lawn – simply awe-inspiring.
As we arrived on Friday we were greeted immediately at the hotel entrance, our room keys and information handed to us while in the car.
Let’s be straight here for a moment. Things are not the same as before covid, and the hospitality sector is a perfect barometer of this. While restrictions have been lifted, the company is dedicated to keeping its guests safe, so dining and cleaning protocols are in place.
As such, you can’t expect everything to be exactly as was, and a modicum of tolerance is justifiably warranted. Our stay unfortunately coincided with a few staffing issues, possibly down to employees having to self-isolate - and this was a fully-booked weekend to boot.
Nevertheless it was amazing to see staff from other departments rally to the cause with professionalism, courtesy and smiles to ensure they gave of their best to guests and uphold the Warner ethos of customer delight.
And what a delightful weekend this was. We eased into proceedings with a relaxing wander around the building, and then retired to our rooms to prepare for the evening meal and the night’s entertainment.
There are two ways to dine at Thoresby. The Market Kitchen, with its pyramid-glassed canopy, is a favourite among guests and is usually predominantly self-service, but which for the moment is now via menu and table-service only. Breakfast is slightly different with guests able to walk to the serving area and indicate their breakfast selections to serving staff.
They can also make bespoke orders from the kitchen, including eggs benedict, pancakes and freshly cooked omelettes to their requirements.
Alternatively you can dine in Brasserie 32, a blue silk-wallpapered, waiter-serviced venue oozing elegance and opulence. Here I enjoyed my favourite starter – the black-pudding scotch egg, so scrumptious I found myself ordering it the next day.
A succulent sirloin steak was my chosen main, accompanied by thrice-cooked chips. Indulgence should accompany opulence and elegance after all!
And then off to the entertainment in the ultra-modern Late Lounge, where we were treated to a fantastic trio of tenors called Unity, whose perfect harmonies gave a twist to old and modern songs.
The evening continued with well-loved numbers from talented resident vocal entertainers Katy and Shaun. The following evening was the headline act Simply Re-red, a fantastic tribute act to Mick Hucknall et al, with all the classic songs you would expect to hear.
Indeed live entertainment takes place across the hotel, with cabaret also delighting guests in the serene surroundings of The Great Hall and laid-back Pavilion Bar in the evening, and daytime fun including Name That Tune, Line Dancing Workshop, Latino-cise and pub quizzes to name but a few.
So that’s eating and entertainment covered – what else is there to do? Well, lots. Included in the price of the weekend is the gym, pool and sauna, grab a frame of snooker, help yourself to a croquet mallet or a putter for two free ball activities on the lawn, or why not throw a frisbee in a round of frisbee golf! There is also a movie room if you fancy settling back with a packet of popcorn.
Also included in the price is rifle shooting and archery down in the picturesque wooded area and our instructor Ed ensured that everyone knew what they were doing in complete safety. A word of warning here: cover your legs and arms as the insects made a good meal out of my poor bare limbs!
There are also paid-for activities at the Hall, and we enjoyed a ‘power trip’ on electric bikes. Whatever your age or terrain, with just a flick of the switch your pedalling is bolstered by the bike’s built-in battery – away you go!
The price for two-and-a-half hours’ hire is usually £13.50 – but currently this is free until October if you hurry. The Hawkeye UK Falconry Experience is a must with owls, kestrels and other birds of prey landing on your gloved hand for a tasty morsel of chicken. A great morning in the capable hands of Alastair and his feathered friends for just £10pp.
If a more laid-back session is more up your street, then why not sign up for the Gin Tasting Experience and/or its wine counterpart the next day, where the knowledgeable Victoria shared the history, cultural significance and tasting/smelling experience of these two tipples. These cost £12pp each.
I almost fell asleep under the dextrous hands of Christa in the hotel spa as I enjoyed the Energy Boost back, legs and feet massage (£45 for 40 mins) while my wife indulged in the Jessica Prescriptive Manicure (£32 for 40 mins) courtesy of Katie.
A wonderful weekend and, as the headline says, what’s Notts to like?... try saying that after the gin tasting!
A three-night break at Thoresby Hall costs from £279 per person sharing a standard room and includes dinner, bed and breakfast, nightly entertainment plus the included activities mentioned.
Visit www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk to book a break at Thoresby Hall or any of the other Warner Leisure Hotels.