I must admit that the first impression of the gigantic room that we had here was not wholly positive. I'm something of a minimalist in my taste in hotel rooms and here we were presented with a restrained riot of furniture and objets d'arts crowned by a half canopied bed decorated in apricot frills. The bathroom was similarly ornate but also home to a green bath.
However,closer inspection revealed the true mystery at the heart of this unique establishment. On the lovely mantel was a glass carriage clock, a full sewing kit and, I kid you not, a small chest containing a proper shoe cleaning kit, not one of the gestures towards pedal tidiness that one normally gets but brushes,polish,the lot. Above the mantel was a glamorous gilt mirror. The bathroom was adorned with a huge set of plates featuring vintage seaside scenes.The green bath had one of those massive tap and shower arrangements that promised and delivered lashings of hot water at a rapid rate. There was even a new spare toothbrush and one of those wooden racks across the bath to hold your soap,shampoo and toy boats. Someone was actually thinking about what guests might need.
The lounge was even better. After lurking round the garden before dinner, I spent a good twenty minutes perusing the eclectic display in there with a perfectly presented gin and tonic in hand. There is a half scale turkey model wearing a top hat with the legend "Season's Greetings" across the bottom. There are porcelain figures to gaze at,comfortable chairs to sit in,the happy chat from the kitchen to remind you that someone is making dinner for you,just as if you were in a friend's house for the weekend.
The dinner was good. I had baulked at a dish with dumplings when I first saw it on the menu but I had been wrong.Some cooks can still make them. The stew and dumplings here were superb - take note, Old Yarmouth Port Inn. Huge amounts of vegetables were presented with the main course and the cheese plate was gigantic. No fuss, no pretension, just top quality domestic cooking. They have a simple wine list-a house white and a house red. The red was more than acceptable. Afterwards, in the lounge, there was a jug of coffee and conversation between guests.
I made the wrong choice at breakfast and had the disappointing mushrooms and tomatoes on toast but the cooked breakfast was pronounced excellent by other guests and the two boiled eggs served up with cosies to one of our party were absolutely as they should have been. I would have liked a buffet for the cereals but the service was quick enough not to make it an issue. The coffee was good and freshly made before our eyes in an antediluvian machine.
The house is lovely and loved by its owners. It has a stately hallway and staircase and is full of beautiful and quirky things and even its rough edges have charm. It is run by human beings. I asked if they had a dress code for dining and when the Wendy and Catrina had stopped laughing long enough they told me that I could eat in my slippers if I wanted. I believed them.
A handsome older couple,regulars at Oakwood,asked me,if I was going to review the hotel, to express their total enchantment with the place.They were made to feel so completely at home there that they wanted to make others aware of its unique character. The place isn't in tip top condition,it isn't smart or boutique in any way. You won't get bowing and scraping and you won't get fobbed off with pale imitations of service. You will certainly get a pleasant surprise when you read the bill.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Spacious mid-Victorian house, set in its own parkland, offering bed and breakfast accommodation, and evening meals to residents. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Oakwood Park Hotel Brampton, Cumbria