Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Mallory Court

1 Jun 2005 by Tom Otley

What's it like? This traditional country house hotel, a member of Relais & Chateaux, is well known for its award-winning food, but has also recently added a conference centre and new brasserie to capture conference and meeting traffic from the local business market; pharmaceutical companies and the motor industry provide much of Mallory Court's meetings business.

Built in 1912 and now owned by Sir Peter Rigby (Specialist Computer Holdings), the 10 acres of grounds have two croquet lawns (the second of which doubles as a helicopter landing pad for Sir Peter), a rose garden, formal herb garden, tennis courts and outdoor pool, usable between April and September. Interiors are stone floors, a grand piano in the lounge, an oak-panelled dining room and book-lined sitting room. Service is helpful, if occasionally disorganised.

Where is it? Three miles from junctions 13 and 14 of the M40, 22 miles from Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre and International Airport. It's also close to both Warwick and Leamington Spa.

How many rooms? 29, split into three groups. The 10 Main House rooms have traditional country house decor, in pinks and blues. A further eight Master Bedrooms are in the East Wing and more modern in style. The East Wing was built in 1999 and is attached to the house through a short, attractive glass-sided corridor with waterfall and rock pools on one side and a view across the gardens on the other. All of these rooms are named after National Trust properties and are equipped with Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries. Finally, there are 11 rooms in the Knights Suite, usually taken by conference and meeting attendees during the week – or by wedding or banqueting guests at the weekend. These are the most modern, with beech-finish furniture, pale beige carpets, flat-screen TVs, heated bathroom floors and mirrors and abstract colourful paintings, with The White Company toiletries.

Room facilities All have small safes (not large enough for laptops), satellite TVs, VHS and CD players (but not DVDs) and internet access for those with their own laptops, who can use the phone line in their room to dial up.

Meeting rooms The Knights Suites conference and function facilities are situated to the left as you approach the main house. Wheelchair-accessible throughout, the 11 bedrooms are on the first floor with flexible conference and meeting spaces on the ground floor (where BMW launched the new model 3-Series in the UK). The main space can accommodate 200 in theatre style, or can be divided into four rooms. There is full media technology including audiovisual equipment with high speed ADSL internet access. Local businesses include those at the Walsgrave Triangle Business area, and firms such as Lloyds Pharmacy, GlaxoSmithKline, Aston Martin and Land Rover. Lastly, there is a private dining room in the main house with direct access to the kitchen. It is popular both for business lunches and evening functions.

Business centre No (and no wifi access).

Restaurants and bars The food is expensive ($90.50/£49.50 for three courses in the evening) but excellent. Starters included tournedos of rabbit, artichoke salad with mustard dressing, or roasted langoustine, fennel bavarios and tomato fondue. Main courses were pan-fried brill, roasted salsify

and wild mushrooms, or roast loin of venison, pork belly in peppery port sauce. Dessert options were white chocolate cheesecake, blueberry compote or vanilla ice cream.

Activities Guests have complimentary use of a newly built Cannon's gym, one mile away.

Other considerations The hotel has extensive experience of hosting (and arranging through its association with KDM Events Ltd team) themed events, team activities, team building and conference packages.

Verdict An excellent choice for either a weekend break or a meeting.

Price A Main House double room costs $338/£185 on weekdays and $357/£195 at weekends; a Master room in the new wing costs $558/£305 on weekdays and $622/£340 at weekends.

Contact Harbury Lane, Bishops Tachbrook, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, tel +44 (0)1926 330214,www.mallory.co.uk,www.relaischateaux.com.

Tom Otley

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