The Return of the Staycation @ the Berystede Hotel and Spa
Bizarrely, though I spent many months abroad in my early 20s, have taken European city breaks at least twice a year since leaving university, and plan one ‘big’ holiday annually, I still feel there’s something very decadent about holidaying in a hotel at home. Is that just me? How times have changed since mass-travel made flying so very accessible. But what about the pastures green of our very own fair countryside? I will admit I rarely consider it, and yet, I’ve realised how foolish this is after my visit to the Macdonald Berystede Hotel and Spa in Ascot.
Firstly, there’s no 3am taxi journeys, lengthy queues, or cramped aeroplanes. Jumping on a train from Waterloo, we arrived at our mini-break destination within the hour. Yes, it takes just 50 minutes to get to Amsterdam, but that doesn’t include any of the travel time either side. And, don’t get me started on the carbon footprint…
Hands down, the Berystede Hotel and Spa has some of the friendliest, most professional staff I’ve ever come across in any capacity. I cannot fault anyone; from the receptionist, to the porter, to the general manager. Everyone deserves full marks. I was blown away by how willing they were to go the extra mile. Perhaps it’s years of using Airbnb but I’d forgotten how nice it is to stay in a hotel with all the trimmings. A paper and alarm call in the morning? No problem. Complimentary welcome truffles? Sure thing. Use of the spa and gym? Go right ahead. We stayed in an Executive Room, and executives we felt. The fluffy pillows, the huge bed, the plush furnishings. There was even a trouser press and a mini bar! (Can you tell how easily pleased I am by traditional English charm?)
Leisure Club and Spa
I’m depressed to say I didn’t get to flex my muscles in the gym or visit the spa the next morning as work beckoned, BUT I’m assured by the guests who did (aka my plus one) that this was heavenly. Who wouldn’t fancy a dip in the 18-metre pool chased up with a well-deserved sauna visit to let the booze eek out? How cathartic.
The Acanthus Restaurant
Open for buffet breakfasts, cocktails, afternoon tea, light lunches and dinner, the Acanthus Restaurant and Terrace is a beautiful space. In the centre of it all is a wonderful ornamental tree decorated according to the season (it featured lovely little festive trinkets and glittering winter twigs during our visit.) The huge windows fill the space with light, showcasing the acres of land surrounding the hotel. The wine offering is fantastic and supplied by Bibendum to create a list that complements both the a la carte menu and market lunch menu. The food is good. I cannot fault the finesse and presentation, but some dishes lacked the punch I’d expected given the high standard of everything else we’d seen. For starters, we shared a tasty pigeon, venison and rabbit terrine with an overly tart chutney, as well as a fluffy cheese soufflé with giant bread soldiers. For mains, we sampled a nice chicken dish, which rested on top of a bed of beans and vegetables. There was also a huge, juicy pork chop accompanied by lattice chips (basically, posh crisps). Perhaps a more traditional mash would work better here. For dessert, there was a white chocolate and passionfruit cheesecake, which tasted like a solero ice cream, and a sharp apple terrine. The morning after, we were stunned by the options available for breakfast, so the range is also something to be commended. From eggs to Coco Pops, muesli to cold meats, there’s something for everyone.
The final verdict
The Berystede Hotel and Spa offers a wonderful respite from the bustle of central London. Just 20 minutes from Heathrow airport, and right next door to the Ascot racing track, it’s a brilliant option for a little get away.
What you need to know:
- Dinner, bed and breakfast in a Classic Double costs from £199
- There are four grades of room; Classic, Executive, Feature, Suite
- Classic rooms start at £115