Mercure recently got in touch to inform us that some of their hotels are now doggy friendly, and to enquire whether or not we’d like to stay at their Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel and Spa, and do a review. Well, as luck would have it this was also around the time of the anniversary of the day En Brogue became my better half. So what a perfect time for us to take advantage of such an offer.
Now, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. I didn’t know much about Mercure but was pretty certain that it was part of a large chain. I had visions of an identikit group of hotels that would provide a standardised amount of quality but very little in the way of unique charm . However, whatever misconceptions that I had quickly evaporated as we made our way down the driveway. By rights we should have swapped our car for a Bentley and had staff in the back of the car rather than Grenson. It felt like we were entering the set of Downton Abbey!
Now be aware. Not all of the hotel looks like this. There is a much larger red brick wing round the back that houses many more rooms, the swimming pool and spa, and the restaurant. But if you’re lucky enough to get a room (and to be truly accurate ours should really be referred to as an apartment!) in the hall then you too can spend the weekend pretending to be Lord of the Manor like Grenson did.
It’s fair to say that Grenson was in heaven. Not only was he greeted by a luxurious sized bed…
… but he also got to choose from his own menu in the restaurant. He opted for a ‘Clean Eating Chicken Protein Immune Booster’ as he was feeling healthy (Raw Steak Tartare or Salmon Sashimi were the other options!!). His verdict was that it was flipping delicious!
But the real clincher for Grenson was the grounds. They are pure doggy heaven, with acre upon acre to explore.
Although, it wasn’t all sweetness and light in the great outdoors. Grenson did have a close shave when he explored a wasp a little too closely and ended up getting it stuck in his beard. Ten seconds (that felt more like days) of shear panic then ensued as we both hurriedly tried to pick out the offending beast without getting stung. Luckily I eventually managed to flick it out before any damage was done (we were both expecting Grense to end up with a swollen disfigured face for days). What can I say? Hero Daddy to the rescue.
The other fantastic advantage to this hotel has to be it’s location. There is an absolute wealth of nearby places to explore.
First off we headed over to Stratford upon Avon to take in a bit of old Willy.
If old relics are more your thing then you could go to nearby Warwick or Kenilworth for some good old castle action.
Alternatively you could avoid any of this history and culture and simply head to the pub.
We can heartily recommend the Peacock in Oxhill, although trying to obey the request for not feeding Henry is a Herculean task (just look at those eyes!).
The Fat Pug in Leamington Spa was a fantastic pub full of character, although sadly no fat pugs on our visit. Judging by the hearty breakfasts that I saw being consumed whilst we were there I’m surprised that all clientele aren’t of larger proportions to be honest, not just the pugs. I would have loved to have indulged if I hadn’t already hit the hotel buffet. Next time!
And to round off the weekend what better way can there be than a Sunday lunch at the Tom o’ the Wood in Rowington. This place is the kind of dog friendly place where it seems like the dogs may have brought the owners here rather than the other way around. Great grub too.
You can then try to work off a little of your indulgence with a walk along the Cut (AKA the canal, for you none Midlanders).
All in all, an absolutely lovely way to celebrate our anniversary. But don’t worry it doesn’t have to be a special celebration. You can go any time. Go on. Spoil yourself. you deserve it. And so does your four legged friend.
The Man and the Dog.