ESCAPE LONDON – The Dial House and The Grapevine Hotels – Luxury history and a gastronomical journey in the picture perfect Cotswolds


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images-2-1After a challenging week at work in the capital (tube strike and all) it’s suffice to say that we couldn’t wait to escape for a tranquil evening at The Dial house Hotel & Restaurant located in the glorious village of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds. After a quick 90 minute train journey from London and a short taxi ride through some of Britain’s most spectacular countryside , we found ourselves in the midst of the stunningly, quintessentially English Dial house Hotel & Restaurant. The Hotel and Restaurant is setback just a stone’s throw away from Bourton-on-the-Water High Street, adjacent to the banks of the River Windrush. The hotel which is also the oldest building in the village stands in all it’s glory with its famous honey coloured, mellow Cotswold stone exterior that radiates pedigree.

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The bedroom was equally fine as the hotel exterior, with a modern twist on a period bedroom. Our room was on the top floor of the converted Coach House which is an annex to the main building.  It boasted an elegant dressing table and an armchair which was set directly in front of the window, which allowed plenty of glorious sunlight into the room and a gave a perfect view to the beautifully kept front garden. The four poster bed was perfect, with plump down pillows and crisp white linen sheets and to top it off there were biscuits, coffee, tea, hot chocolate etc in abundance!

After settling into the room it was time to freshen up. Decisions, decisions, the Jacuzzi corner bath or the power shower! I opted for the shower with complimentary Molton Brown toiletries. Ah this is the life… Whilst waiting for dinner I took the time to read the thoughtfully assembled guest guide book which was left in the room. It gave us a great insight into the area’s attractions.  Within Bourton-on-the-Water there is a lot to see and do in such a quaint village including Cotswold Motor Museum, The Model Village and Birdland to name a few. In addition to the aforementioned there are a large variety of shops, restaurants and pubs. We had planned our day ahead in no time at all and just in time for dinner.

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Being the foodies that we are, we couldn’t wait to try this restaurant!  Offering English / French Fine Dining Cuisine the head chef Paul Nicholson and his kitchen team combine classical cooking and modern techniques to create new and exciting dishes.

In addition to the A la Carte Menu the restaurant offers a 5 Course Tasting Menu with the option of wine pairing. That was too much to resist so that’s exactly what we opted for. Before we sat down at our table we had a pre dinner glass of fizz and a wonderfully tasty and innovatively presented amuse bouche in the lovely bar area whist we reviewed our menus. Lovely and a perfect start. We were then shown to our table by our true gentleman of a waiter and so it began. I have to say here that the service we had was probably the best service I’ve ever had – the two people attending to us were so knowledgeable, polite, helpful and genuinely complemented the ambience of the experience and made us feel as special and very welcome.

The whole meal was an artistic and gastronomic journey that was very, very special and truly should be celebrated. Each course was just impeccably presented, technically well executed and well balanced. I have to say food and service like this I’ve scarcely had the pleasure to experience outside of Michelin started restaurants and if that is their ambition then I’d say that they’re well on their way to that kind of fame. Just a fabulous experience.

To finish off the meal we had a selection of wonderful cheeses which and a final glass of port. Off to bed we stumbled…. Happy, content and a little worse for wear but with great memories of a fabulous meal and a good time spent.

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The morning greeted us with more glorious sunshine. We took the opportunity to explore the garden and grounds before breakfast. The lawn garden at the back hosts deck chairs and a hot tub which we were pretty gutted we couldn’t use as we had too much exploring to do, whilst the front garden is an explosion of colour and sweet smells. It really is a fairy tale place.

Happily we sat down for a hearty breakfast to set us up for a day on the tourist trail. I had something light but my partner had the full works of an English breakfast – and I have to say the quality of it was just on point. Nice thick bacon, meaty, tasty sausages – the perfect start to the day.

SO with heavy hearts we checked out, as we were moving to another place later in the day following a stroll around. The whole experience was just wonderful – the staff and amazing – really deserved of recognition and the food and drink was exceptional, all wrapped up in the most picturesque of places – a true destination place. I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough.

After glorious day in the sun baked village of Bourton-on-the-Water off we headed with fond memories packed away to The Grapevine Hotel in neighbouring Stow-on-the-Wold. This hotel built out of Cotswold stone is conveniently placed, like the Dial House, right near the of the village and faces the oldest Inn in England! We were warmly welcomed and showed to our room at the top of the hotel, Again a beautiful four poster bed welcomed us to our large room with again a large ensuite with bath and shower facilities. The whole nine yards again and immediately relaxing. After a snooze on the four poster… well why not – we went out to investigate our surroundings. And of course had to pop in for one at the oldest Inn in England!

Stow like all of the Cotswolds villages is yet another little gem with a well stocked high street, lots of pubs and if not as picturesque as Bourton – charming in its own right! We soon realised that hunger was getting the better of us though and so back to the Grapevine to sample their dinner menu – having been blown away by The Dial House the night before we were expecting big things!

The Dial House Hotel and Restaurant, High Street, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire, GL54 2AN – Tel: 01451 822244

Heart London Magazine 5 * Review

Service 5

Food 5

Drink 5

Decor 5

Bedroom 5


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images-2-1The dining room at the Grapevine is in one word spectacular! It’s a large room with a glass roof a, grand piano and wait for it… the second oldest grapevine in England twisting up and round the restaurant. It’s so pretty, light and airy and such a talking point – like nowhere else I’ve ever dined. There’s a historical sheet available that guests can read as they order and wait and that’s such a lovely touch and gives you the feeling that you are somewhere special.

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The menu is Western European/Italian and not as fancy as The Dial House, this place is very much the younger sister but well rounded and well it didn’t disappoint… The portion sizes are very generous and the service again with a smile and with perfect grace. I had a rare fillet steak that was one of the nicest, well cooked and the juiciest I’d had for as far back as my memory goes. The cheese board of Italian cheeses was really different and again shows how much attention to detail is paramount in these two hotels. Everyone around us was really enjoying the atmosphere and the food and it was a pleasurable end to a great day.

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So back to the four poster we retired – hard life really isn’t it. We had a brilliant night’s sleep on the enormous and comfortable bed and it was with sadness that when we woke up we realised its back to London we go and the plain living of our own beds. I was so getting used to the luxury. Again the full breakfast was exemplary and the service bright.

We said goodbye thus and back on the train to our lives we went… such a wonderful weekend in the most relaxing of environments. I don’t think I’ve every stayed anywhere where the service is so down to earth and worth five stars. In both places you really felt welcome and part of the family. The Dial House is especially very special and is really forging forwards in style and execution of the whole luxury experience in such picturesque surroundings. For a Cotswold break I don’t think you could really get much better – the owners of these establishments and the staff should really be very proud and definitely gave us a weekend to remember on so many levels. The perfect English break.

The Grapevine Hotel, Sheep St, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AU

Tel: 01451 830344

Heart London Magazine 5 * Review

Service 5

Food 5

Drink 5

Decor 5

Bedroom 5

Emma, Heart London Magazine