Sunday 20 November 2016

Magical dining at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire (Warner Leisure Hotel Review)

Welcome to Thoresby Hall Hotel Warner Leisure

Last week, Liam and I were kindly invited for an adult-only (over 21's) week night escape to Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire, one of the 13 Warner Leisure hotels here in the UK. Having never had the pleasure of staying with Warner before we were eager to try out a child-free break, and enjoy all that Thoresby Hall had to offer. 

Thoresby Hall is one Nottinghamshire’s most important houses; a stunning 19th century stately home, with the most enchanting original features which are still enjoyed by guests today. There are deep armchairs in the vaulted splendour of the Great Hall (think Hogwarts for grown ups!), and the house’s broad terrace overlooks a croquet lawn and acres of classic parkland. The rooms vary from historic sumptuous four-poster suites to simpler standard rooms. Plus there’s a extensive range of activities available to enjoy, from fencing to falconry, and excellent live music and entertainment every night. Thoresby also boasts a beautiful Spa complete with swimming pool, steam room, sauna, treatment rooms and gym. 

Thoresby have recently renovated "The Blue Room" within the original historic house, which houses their Blue Grill fine-dining restaurant. Liam and I were lucky enough to enjoy an exquisite dinner in the stunningly restored dining room during our stay as well as making the most of their spa facilities following breakfast on the morning after our overnight stay. 

Our Room

We were delighted to be treated to a night in the house's most impressive suite The Newark, if you're looking for a room to take your breath away then this is it! We opened the heavy wooden door to our suite to find a huge four-poster-bed of dreams draped with the most stunning mustard yellow fabric and flock/paisley design pelmet in matching colour (mustard yellow is my very favourite colour so I was in interiors heaven!). The large window was dressed with curtains in the same fabric, and the bed adorned with matching cushions - the attention to detail in the design of this room was second-to-none. 

The Newark Suite at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The suite is brimming full of antique furniture meaning there's plenty of storage space for your clothing and belongings. It's lit with chandeliers and one of the walls and the chimney breast is lined with a rich and opulent black flock wallpaper. The bathroom is very spacious with bath/shower, toilet and large basin area and the humungous bathroom window looks out over the impressive gardens, your privacy and modesty protected by giant wooden shutters and voile curtain. 

The Newark Suite at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Huge window in The Newark Suite, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

My favourite part of the room (aside from the bed of dreams!) was the main window in the suite, with rich and warm full length curtains and two comfy armchairs, the perfect spot to enjoy a hot drink and a read of our books (...without children shouting "Mummy?" "Daddy?" every 10 seconds - BLISS!)

The Newark Suite, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The suite also included a stunning original fireplace with a comfy sofa and coffee table, a large flat-screen TV with DVD player, a fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, safe, towels, toiletries, robes, slippers, hairdryer and even complimentary wine and biscuits! Everything you could possibly need for a luxurious night away - Thoresby you covered all the bases!!

Towel lady in the Newark Suite at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire
We even had a towel-lady sitting on our bed - its the little extra touches that make Thoresby Hall so special. 

Coffee making facilities in The Newark Suite at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The Library at Thoresby Hall

We were served dinner in The Blue Grill/The Blue Room in the heart of the main house at Thoresby Hall. To enter the dining room you have to pass through The Library and oh my goodness, this room is the stuff that dreams are made of - I genuinely felt like Belle in Beauty and The Beast the minute I stepped into this perfect space. Warm, rich red tones and red and gold flock wallpaper fill the room - wooden bookcases as far as the eye can see, huge arm chairs, roaring fires, wooden shutters and window seats, candles on the tables...I could genuinely have spent all evening cosied up in this amazing space. 

The Library at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Thoresby was made all the more magical as it is now dressed for Christmas - garlands, Christmas trees, fairy lights and baubles adorn each room making it seem even more fairytale-like.

Running with the Christmas theme we were served Christmas-themed cocktails (mine came in an actual bauble!!) to enjoy in the library before being shown to our table in The Blue Room. 

Christmas cocktails in The Library at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The Blue Grill in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall 

Having never visited Thoresby before, I had zero expectations for what The Blue Room might look like and so upon entering the space I genuinely felt the view take my breath away. I can hand-on-heart say that I have never been in a room any more beautiful than The Blue Room at Thoresby. Think of the most opulent palace, the grandest castle, the most exquisite stately home you might have visited and this still won't capture quite how beautiful this room is. The pictures I took don't even do it justice. Eating in a room as breathtaking as this was such a thrill, and is now a night I will never forget, for all the right reasons. 

The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Aptly named, the Blue Room's colour-scheme is (of course!) mostly blue - with accents of cream and gold along with some wooden panelling. Huge chandeliers adorn the majestic ceiling and the walls are genuinely lined with 100% silk which cost £1000 per drop! No expense has been spared in this overwhelmingly magical space.

There are two huge fireplaces, one of which still has its original marble surround, and despite having a dining room that can accommodate multiple covers, somehow each table within dining room feels private, romantic and secluded. 

The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Fireplace in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The menu at The Blue Grill is simple but perfectly formed - offering a selection of seasonal starters, and varied choice of grilled meat or fish: from the butchers block, from the farm, or from the sea. Your choice of grilled meat or fish is then accompanied by a grilled topping, a sauce and a side to build your perfect main course. There is also always a vegetarian 'dish of the day' available. 

Our meal started with two large glasses of glorious red wine, following on from our Christmas cocktails, and within minutes of being seated we were served a selection of white and brown freshly baked (still warm!) rolls and butter. 

Freshly baked bread rolls at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

For our starter we opted for the sharing platter - which gave Liam and I a taste of five of the starters in miniature. I love these sorts of platters because as an obsessive 'foodie' I hate having to choose only one meal from the menu - being able to try all five was brilliant. 

Our started consisted of:
  • Butternut squash velouté
  • Posh Lobster fish finger
  • Pigeon breast with beetroot
  • Crab tian
  • Confit pork 

Every element of the starter was fabulous; beautiful ingredients that delivered bags of flavour in a classic but quirky style. The butternut squash velouté was particularly memorable, and we loved the concept of a 'posh' fish finger, how fun! 

Our Sharing Platter Starter at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

For our main courses we both chose beef options. I ordered an 8oz rib eye steak topped with Cafe de Paris butter, with a peppercorn sauce and side of triple cooked chips. Heaven on a plate! 

Liam ordered the super-special Wagyu steak which is prized for its incredible flavour in its native Japan, he topped his steak with grilled Tiger prawns and a Bearnaise sauce, again served with a side of triple cooked chips. 

Wagyu Steak, Tiger Prawns, Triple Cooked Chips at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

We both ordered our steaks rare, and they were cooked to perfection. The chefs at Thoresby clearly have a deep respect for the ingredients they use, and this respect is evident in the eating. 

Rib eye steak, Cafe de Paris butter, Triple cooked chips at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall

A really fun "extra" during our dining experience was our lovely waitress bringing over an ornate wooden box displaying an impressive selection of different coloured handled steak knives; we were able to select whichever knife we wanted to use from the box - Liam of course made a reference to Harry Potter when he selects his wand...I'm pretty sure the waitress thought we were slightly potty - but the whole place kept reminding us of Hogwarts in its opulence and grandeur, so I totally 'got' the reference. Wielding our specially chosen steak knives we devoured our main course with a beautiful glass of their house red wine, which was the ideal accompaniment. 

For dessert we opted for fun and ordered their 'Fairground Attraction' sharing dessert, and I'm so glad we did. 

Fairground Attraction dessert at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

This briliantly-quirky dessert is served in it's very own ferris wheel! Like the starter, it contains a selection of six small 'tasters', which combined made for the perfect final course of the meal. 

Fairground Attraction included:
  • Homemade lemon ice cream in cones
  • White Chocolate Fudge
  • Rose Marshamallow
  • Mini Toffee Apples
  • Candyfloss
  • Sugared ring doughnut
As a keen baker, I kept looking at this dessert and thinking about the sheer amount of work that would have gone into creating it. An impressive course - which would be especially popular with younger diners or those that love a bit of whimsical theatre! 

Homemade truffles at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Our meal was completed with coffee and a selection of homemade truffles while we revelled in our stunning surroundings for the final moments. We were both totally in awe of the stunning room, and each time we glanced around we noticed something else magnificent about the space. 

The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Impressive ceiling in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire
The incredible ceiling and chandeliers in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall

The whole room was tastefully adorned with blue, silver and gold Christmas decorations which complimented the decor of the room perfectly. The mantle of the fireplace was decked with a huge fir garland, twinkly lights and towering candles, and in the corner stood an impressive and tasteful tree. The piece de resistance for me was the classic Christmas carols which played faintly in the backgrounding creating the perfect festive environment. I sat at my table imagining the grand Christmases of the past which had been played out in that very room. 

Christmas tree in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Christmas comes to Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Silk walls in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire
Real silk walls - have you ever heard of such opulence?

Stunning window treatments in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall

After our fabulous dinner we had a lovely chat with the Hotel Manager and Head Chef, whom we thanked profusely for our meal, before we retired to our room to relax with a glass of wine and get a long (un-interupted) night's sleep in the HUUUUGE bed.  

It was as blissful as it sounded. 


The morning saw us wake to a crisp, clear Autumnal morning looking out onto the beautiful gardens. 

The gardens at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

We ate a tasty buffet-style full English and continental breakfast, before heading to my second-favourite room of Thoresby (after The Blue Room), The Great Hall. This central hall really is absolutely epic both in size and style - a fireplace standing taller than 6ft with a roaring fire inside, vaulted ceiling with stone pillars, Stags' head on the walls, a grand piano for entertainment in the evenings and tons of gloriously comfy armchairs and sofas for guests to kick-back and enjoy some quiet time. Liam and I cuddled up on a sofa next to the fire with our books and enjoyed two hours of unadulterated pleasure in the form of peace and quiet - a rarity for parents of a 5 month old and 3 year old! 

It's worth noting here that Warner's over 21's only rule is one that I absolutely 'get' now that I've visited one of their hotels - I'm all for inclusion and family-friendly getaways but Thoresby really is a place to be savoured, to take slowly and investigate in peace, it's a place for unwinding, relaxing and reconnecting - and let's be honest, that vocabulary rarely enters into the world of parenting! We kept laughing at how different the trip would have been had the children been with us, and vowed to make the most of the 27 hours that we were just Liam and Lucy again, rather than Mummy and Daddy. 

The Great Hall at Warner Leisure's Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire

The Great Hall at Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire
He's staring at me! Stags head in The Great Hall at Thoresby.

After our jaunt in The Great Hall we headed to the hotel's Spa where we enjoyed a 35 minute workout in their fully equipped gym, followed by a dip in the pool and jacuzzi and a session in both the sauna and steam room. The facilities are brilliant: modern, chic, clean and all the staff were bright, helpful and welcoming. We couldn't have asked for more.

Before we left we enjoyed a walk in the vast grounds of Thoresby Hall and took in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the epic house. 

Warner Leisure's Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire

The grounds at Warner Leisure's Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire
The grounds at Thoresby Hall

Warner Leisure's Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire
Me enjoying a 'Lady of the Manor' moment! 

A huge thank you to all at Thoresby Hall and Warner Leisure for making our stay so memorable, and we are sure we'll be back before long - wild horses couldn't stop us! We've already shouted about it to our friends and family, waxing lyrical about our beautiful escape. 

Warner Leisure are able to take booking for The Blue Grill from non-Warner guests, which means you can enjoy a magical dining experience in this exquisite dining room without needing to book an overnight stay. I genuinely urge you if you're a Nottinghamshire local (or even if you're not!) to book yourself a table. 

If you're looking for the perfect adult-retreat then Thoresby Hall is a winner on every level, but if an overnight stay isn't within your budget, or you're simply looking for a stunning venue for a celebratory dinner then booking a table at The Blue Room is a sure-fire way to knock your accompanying guests' socks off! 

We were gifted our evening meal, overnight stay, breakfast and Spa experience at Thoresby Hall in return for this honest review. All words and images are my own.