We couldn’t fault it! It ticked all the boxes: beautiful country house hotel, delicious, imaginative food, gardens most beautifully maintained, excellent spa, well-appointed and spacious historic rooms, charming entertainment and totally accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Thoresby Hall is set in superb grounds, sporting its own croquet lawn and bowling green, with rose garden, traditional herbaceous borders to rival those at Cliveden House and views across the gentle countryside, replete with sheep, lake and river. A delightful shopping area, The Courtyard, is just a minute’s walk away with local artisans busy at work, and a fabulous plant centre set in the former stables. And for those who want to explore the surrounding area, Sherwood Forest is close by.
We were hosted by Tony Ineson, who is the epitome of charm and professionalism, from Warner Leisure Hotels. On arrival, we had a wander round, marvelling at the wise decision to maintain all the main public rooms in the house in their original state. The library was indeed a library, with comfortable armchairs, a desk or two for writing and lamps completely in keeping with the period. I suspect the paintings were not the real thing but no matter. In one corner a card school was in full swing, Scrabble very seriously took place on a larger table and a formidable jigsaw was mid-way through completion in an alcove. Full length windows overlooked the garden, with sumptuous drapes. We strolled through to the Manvers Bar for a pre-dinner drink, all dark wood, discreet and elegant.
Most guests take dinner at the Sherwood Restaurant, with their own table for the duration of their stay. We opted for dinner in the Blue Room (at a supplement) which was superb. Imaginative, not fussy and charmingly served. The team at Thoresby Hall have worked hard to ensure high standards of dining, and guests were without exception very complimentary about the quality of the meals.
And so after dinner, we retired to the Pavilion Bar, which adjoins the theatre. Now here is the new build, which it has to be said, flows seamlessly into the old house, and is absolutely central to the Warner Leisure way of doing things! The theatre reminded me of a cruise ship. Here the entertainment team do just that, entertain! With singing, dancing and lively interaction with the audience, seated cabaret style, drinks served to your table, an hour or so passed happily by. Then, should you wish, the singers continue in the bar until the last half dozen or so guests head off to bed. The rendition of Fields of Gold by a young lass was almost Eva Cassidy perfect. Tom Jones would most certainly have swung his chair around!
We had a historic room, in the old house, each one unique and you do pay more for these, which I recommend. It was spacious, with excellent beds and fine linen, robes and slippers, a TV that was simple to use (an unusual blessing) and a large bathroom with good shower. That said, the standard rooms, in the new wing, are well above average, on the ground floor, each has a small terrace and garden furniture. Rooms equipped for those with limited mobility are available, just ask when you book. Should you want something rather special, go for a suite or even the master bedroom of the house, which is magnificent with twin baths and room for a party!
The Warner principle is straight forward, a beautiful location, good food, an amazing variety of daytime activities, most free (walking, quizzes, dance classes, archery and darts for starters) and jolly good evening entertainment, including some very well known tribute bands. There really is something for everyone. Breaks are Monday to Friday, then Friday to Monday, the latter attracting a slightly younger crowd. It is for adults only, so mercifully no children, with most guests being towards grandparent age, some possibly great grandparents.
What really made our stay special is that every member of staff is friendly, good looking, young and really pleasant. I’d send any young employee on the Warner training course, this high level of genuinely interested service, without obsequiousness, is a delight. I was so surprised by the walls, covered in silk like a wallpaper, in a soft blue. What the guest is getting at Thoresby Hall is a real taste of luxury, proper Downton-esque living at a very sensible price.
We found nothing to dislike: on the contrary, absolutely everything to delight in! Christmas, I suppose, would be a time when Thoresby Hall excels itself, with a light dusting of snow, cosy log fires and a wonderful tree. Let’s book the master bedroom, champagne and reindeer on the lawn!