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Short stay: Rookery Hall Hotel and Spa, Nantwich, Cheshire, UK

Two centuries on from its naming as Rookery Hall, the rooks still fly over 38 acres of grounds, waddle across the terrace and perch on the handsome Georgian mansion built back in 1816. Yet, there is an air of the Loire valley to this grand sandstone and grey slate property. When Baron Von Schroeder purchased the estate in 1867, he grandly decided to give a French flavour to the property adding a tower that would have looked at home on a French chateau. Though the grounds are those of the quintessential English country house, a classic retreat. Wisteria and white roses grow on the terrace trellis. A fountain plays by the side of the croquet lawn, green pasture leads down to the banks of the River Weaver. Beyond the river this is a rural land of black-and-white timbered farmhouses and peaceful canals. The welcome Warm hospitality begins long before arrival, with a phone call to liaise over timings: checking-in, bookings for breakfast and dinner. On arrival temperatures are taken, the one-way system explained. Help with luggage is provided and guests are guided to their rooms. The room After Hand Picked Hotels had added Rookery Hall to their collection of hotels, they realised that there was significant additional demand for accommodation. The extension to the original mansion features spacious rooms that take up the classical themes of the Georgian House. Curtains and soft furnishings select from a soothing green palette that match the rural setting. Full-length mirrors are topped with Grecian-styled carvings and mini-spotlights highlight the hints of Athenian decoration. Beds are huge, a large flat-screen unobtrusive and air-conditioning discretely effective. The bathroom A remote-controlled television at the end of the bath, signals that this is a brightly lit state-of-the art bathroom that is very definitely contemporary luxurious rather than classical spartan. There is a separate rain-fall shower and an ample supply of Hand Picked Hotels’ own range of toiletries. Facilities The restaurant and bar in the main house have been refurbished to make the most of their Georgian origins. Picture windows are so tall that it is rumoured that the ghost of a Grey Lady, a domestic servant who fell to her death whilst hanging curtains, occasionally visits. Similarly, it is said that a ghost of a young boy, searching for his lost dog, also frequents the Salon. It’s well-stocked bar with over 50 gins, including a spicy Apple Crumble gin from nearby Three Wrens distillers. Awarded two AA Rosettes, the two wood-panelled dining rooms are decorated with stylish black-and-white photography of architecture from Nantwich and other local towns. Menus focus on innovative Modern British food. For instance, a starter of a smooth veloute of locally sourced peas is given a creative flourish with whipped mascarpone and the intensity of chorizo. A main course of Malpas Whitchurch lamb is not only a work of art, there is also a clever contrast of textures between a succulent loin and a ragout of shoulder, served with cauliflower and red leaves. Location South of Liverpool and Manchester, Nantwich is in a quiet, almost forgotten corner of England, where road signs frequently point towards North Wales. There is plenty to explore within a short drive: Chester, the grandeur of National Trust’s Tatton Park, the history of the railways at Crewe and Nantwich even has an underground nuclear shelter available for viewing. Other nice touches Undoubtedly the Spa is key to Rookery Hall’s attraction with many guests either arriving for a day of treatments or for a spa break. The stables have been converted into a luxurious quadrangle of seven treatment rooms, hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room. At the heart of the spa, which features Elemis products, sits a tempting 17 metre indoor swimming pool. Cost Rooms, including breakfast, start at £250. The best bit There’s an elegant grandeur and a romance to this peaceful country estate, you can even take a serene 20 minute stroll around its perimeters. David Beckham and Victoria Adams chose Rookery Hall to announce their engagement before they became globally known as Posh and Becks. Margaret Thatcher visited too. The final verdict Rookery Hall and Spa blends the grandeur of Georgian living, dining whilst looking out over the grounds is something of a Downtown Abbey moment, with the luxurious comfort that we come to expect from Hand Picked Hotels. These are exciting times for Rookery Hall with the ten spacious rooms in the mansion about to be refurbished. Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Rookery Hall.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. So many of Britain’s country hotels are looking better than ever. However much we like to moan about our country we’ve come a long way over the last century. We’ve gone from a situation where a family run such houses for their own pleasure, using plenty of servants, to these beautiful hotels being open to everyone to enjoy for a few days.

    It is a win-win situation. The hotel companies invest in preserving and developing the buildings and grounds whilst people get to escape from their hectic everyday lives and relax in grand surroundings.

    It will be interesting to visit Rookery Hall after the next round of refurbishment.

  2. I’ve lost a lot of confidence over recent months and become a bit of a recluse. As yet I haven’t brought myself to stay at a hotel or even have a meal out.

    Rookery Hall is the sort of place that might just tempt me to try a hotel. Somewhere that spacious should be nice and safe, the grounds look gorgeous and a great place for the daily exercise.

    I could kill two birds with one stone and have my first restaurant meal since March. I’m getting very fed up with my own cooking.

  3. I’ve really missed my spa days with friends over the last months. To make up for it in one go we’ve been talking about having a luxurious short break. Although Cheshire would be quite a drive for us it would be somewhere new and exciting for a few days. Rookery Hall would be a much deserved treat.

    1. I know that feeling. Every other month four of us used to book a spa day. No husbands, no partners, no children, no work, no pets – instead there was always plenty of pampering and loads of me time.

      Thanks to Coronavirus we’ve missed three of those blissful days. I like the idea of catching up on that time with a three night get away break.

      Probably be too expensive if we just did 3 days of treatments but there’s plenty to do up there in Cheshire.

  4. I’ve actually never been to Cheshire. I’ll have to rectify that and take a weekend break some time. I think the closest I’ve been is around Derbyshire a couple of times. I know a few folks up in Manchester and in Macclesfield but I’ve never made it up to Cheshire myself. Lyme Park is supposed to be lovely to look around and Delamere Forest, if I’m right in thinking that’s in Cheshire?

    This mansion turned hotel is stunning. I love the architecture and the grounds around the back that we can see from the photo are beautiful. It sounds like you could get a good bit of exercise just walking around the estate while you’re there.

    While I don’t believe in ghosts, I do like a good ghost story. I can’t help but think it’s pretty sad that a servant died while hanging curtains. I won’t ask how she managed that!

    This place really does have a warm, romantic feel to it. I bet it’ll be even more impressive after the refurbishment so I wish them all the very best with their future endeavours at the hotel, and perhaps I’ll make be able to pay it a visit one day.

    1. Alison,

      If you saw how high the windows were you wouldn’t be surprised at all that the servant had fallen to her death!



  5. You’re right it reminds me of some of the French chateaux that we visited in France last summer. Doesn’t look as if we’re going to make France this summer. Maybe we’ll have our little bit of France in Cheshire instead.

  6. I’ve got a swimming membership at my local pool but it’s such a pain now that I’m thinking of cancelling it. You have to book a time in advance, get called in from the car park and then drive home in your wet trunks. How much fun is that going to be in November and December?

    Suddenly a swim in that pool where you can wander across from your room in your white fluffy robe seems to be a real luxury.

    I can see people cancelling their gym and swim memberships and getting their exercise on long weekends away at places like this.

    That pool looks so tempting.

  7. It’s good to hear that places Rookery, although it sees visitors, can still be a place wildlife such as rooks to come to. I like the quiet, seemingly remote location of this place. It’s a perfect place to escape to especially if you need to get away from crowds and people for a while. I also like that the facade matches the old world feel of the interiors. It wasn’t modernized but still offers the convenience of contemporary amenities. That library looks amazing. I can get myself lost in books very easily in here.

    1. The library is actually at Tatton Park. The National Trust guide said that it was the best library in a National Trust property. To be honest the photo doesn’t really do it justice, there were two fireplaces and also a specially commissioned Canaletto from Venice. Not too many properties can say they have a commissioned Canaletto hanging on their walls!

  8. One word came to mind while reading this: Chic. And that pool is my favorite thing about it all. That’s one of the most relaxing images in my mind. Love to swim early in the morning when everybody else is still asleep.

  9. What a wonderful looking country escape! I love some of the historical places that Hand Picked Hotels have in their collection – I’m hoping to stay at New Hall Hotel and Spa soon which is one of theirs! Looks gorgeous with the moat that surrounds it.

    Fantastic to see the precautions they have taken to make staying with them safe. I am yet to stay in a hotel since March when lockdown hit but all going well one of theirs should be first on my list :) Thank you for the reassuring review!

    1. New Hall Hotel and spa is definitely worth a visit. I stayed in a room with the moat on two sides. Many of the rooms are named after the varieties of water lilies that float on the moat. Since the owners spruced up the place for the visit of Henry Vlll it’s never looked back. Hand Picked Hotels really look after their properties and they’ve got some magical locations.

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