Think luxury hotel in England in winter and what would you want? Log fires, huge beds with the softest linen, courteous staff, excellent food and silence from the hustle and bustle of urban life? Well, we got all of those from our Secret Escape at the Lainston House Hotel. Unfortunately we also got continual rain. Well, it is England and we are having the wettest winter on record. Not to be discouraged the staff were prepared. With our room across the courtyard a ready supply of umbrellas stood waiting to be used at strategic doorways. Dashing across to Reception, the Wellington boots lined up waiting to be borrowed looked so cute I almost ( I said, almost) wished I had young children with me just so we could pretend to be Cinderella and find a pair that fitted.
We’d booked a table in the Grade II listed 18th-century inn The Old Vine for later that evening. An appealing hotel, bar and restaurant it had just the right mix to feel special but not overpoweringly posh. As the OH doesn’t like liver we never eat it at home, so it is the first thing I gravitate towards when perusing a menu. The chef did not disappoint this time and served it with exquisite dauphinoise potatoes. Unfortunately we were having a dry January but the excellent real ales on offer encouraged OH to succumb to temptation – I of course, sat sipping my lime and soda, resisting all the red wines, a small virtuous smile on my face. I’m not sure he noticed!
The night sky on our return to the hotel was so clear and bright, my limited knowledge of the stars made me look up a new app so I could make sense of the space above me. When an owl on the prowl broke the silence, I just knew my wish list was complete.
I’m a great fan of city breaks. Even in a short time they can transport you out of your world so that you feel you have escaped. It was still wet and windy. But somehow being wintry in another city made it all more bearable for a while. After a large calorie laden breakfast (it seemed a waste not to try all the unusual granolas, fruit, yoghurts, eggs and pastries on offer when they had made such an effort with their display) we packed up and left.
All good things have to come to an end but it’s now February. The rain may still be with us but I’ve spied a few daffodils peeking out of their beds; the birds are chirping earlier and the evenings are getting slightly lighter – all signs that Spring is giving Winter that push it needs to hurry along.