It has taken me quite a while to write this review, so let's dispense with the elephant in the room - this is a top class hotel, luxury surroundings with high quality food served in a beautiful environment and this all comes at a price. We were being entertained, a special family get together but, four weeks later, I am still battling my conscience over the bill - nearly £600 for lunch for six with only one glass of wine between us and the rest having soft drinks.
But that is my problem. Placing the cost to one side, did we enjoy our visit?
We had my wheelchair bound father with us and had warned the hotel in advance. On arrival, a ramp was already in place and staff were on hand to wheel him in, in fact, throughout our visit staff were so caring and kind in wheeling him between rooms and accommodating his needs.
Pre lunch drinks with canapés were taken in the lounge; big squishy sofas, a selection of chairs for different postures and requirements, thick heavy curtains, artwork on the walls and tall, tall windows giving views down through the immaculate gardens and uninterrupted views across Rutland Water. Furniture is laid out in small clusters with plenty of low tables, giving privacy to couples and groups.
Menus are decorated artfully and printed onsite - in fact, we had our soon to be daughter-in-law visiting from Korea and the lady on Reception was kind enough to print a special menu of the day out for her, together with a personalised message - a lovely touch.
There is a three course menu for lunch or the 'Lunch for Less' choice. I also had the vegetarian menu with some imaginative options. We were advised that the meat is served 'pink'.
Service was attentive and the whole tenor of the experience was unrushed. Our table in the dining room was laid with crisp white linen, heavy napkins; glasses were refreshed regularly and dishes were served to all diners quickly, thus avoiding that embarrassment of most of you watching your food losing heat whilst you politely wait for the last person to have theirs brought to the table.
Food was tasty, portions not overwhelming but, as is often the case with high quality ingredients, freshly cooked - filling and satisfying. Vegetarian options avoided trying to emulate vegetarian versions of meat recipes and used a variety of pulses and vegetables. My main of couscous was a little bland, but others might have described the flavour as subtle.
Everything was artfully presented, great care had obviously been taken.
We retired back to the lounge for coffee and petits fours, served in a cafetière for those who like a second cup.
Some of us went for a wander around the gardens, and it would have been possible with the wheelchair but not necessarily easy, so the rest of us just leant back into those squishy sofas and enjoyed a post-prandial chat.
The location of Hambleton Hall is lovely, the environment and ambience elegant and comfortable, the service impeccable.
If you can square it with your conscience, your bank account, the hospitality of another - whatever the situation - then you will have a wonderful experience.
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