Stapleford Park. Everyone from Royals to politicians to Baywatch babes have entertained and been entertained here. Don’t be fooled or scared off though – everyone receives the same warm welcome and treatment, especially one’s dog – with a tradition of English sporting pursuits and country house hospitality, dogs can just as happily roam the 500 magnificent acres of Capability Brown landscaped grounds set in the heart of the Leicestershire countryside as they can enjoy a nap with you in the Drawing Room, where specially commissioned damask from the Queen’s own textile supplier frames the view.
The ultimate country sporting estate with everything and anything you could ever want (spa, indoor pool, tennis, golf, and on and on).
First visited by Erin & Blue in September 2011.
Why we love it. A to-die-for country sporting house, this place is all about the wow factor. What “wowed” us perhaps the most is that it manages this whilst having the most immense warmth and unstuffiness about it. Both staff and guests are genuinely nice. If there is a more down to earth grand country estate where one can pass their time, we challenge all to find it. Don’t mistake the lack of pretention for casual service. Faultless, the staff goes above and beyond the call of duty to make sure everything is perfect and that you are never wanting. Everything is executed with the grace and class befitting the surroundings. There is the temptation to doubt that, with all of the grandeur, it is able to bill itself as a home away from home. However, it really does feel that way (but better!). My house certainly can’t boast an 18 hole championship golf course (Stapleford hosts the PGA’s Handa Senior Masters tournament), a Clarin’s Gold Spa, a full technogym and fitness studio complete with a heated 22m pool, steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi. Whilst you can pursue almost every activity imaginable under the sun: shooting, riding, falconry, tennis and more, it is just as easy to while away the hours in one of the lounges, where current issues of nearly every magazine grace the coffee tables and endless service is available to feed one’s need for coffee or tea during the day and warming tipples at night.
For me and Blue, the lounges featured prominently in our stay, Blue being welcomed just as much as I in these. I enjoyed a tea (accompanied by a plate of lovely biscuits) whilst Blue slumbered at my feet following a walk around the grounds; a pre-dinner drink and canapés in front of a roaring fire whilst Blue, again, slumbered at my feet; and morning coffee whilst Blue, this time, stared at me waiting for his walk. As for walks, there is no shortage straight from the door – long walks through the countryside, medium walks around the golf course and grounds, quick walks through the manicured gardens. Best of all, being the realistic, down-to-earth place that it is, there are no shortage of doggie waste bins located in convenient places around the grounds.
It’s a good thing there’s no shortage of walks. The hotel’s fine dining restaurant holds two rosettes and there is also a more casual dining option available should you be after something a bit less formal. The food in both is fabulous - the hotel was recently declared best hotel in the nationwide Gourmet Britain 2011 Awards, just one of the many awards this place can lay claim to. The rooms are equally luxurious, all individually designed around certain themes or by particular designers: David Hicks, whose clients include the Queen, the Prince of Wales, Vidal Sassoon, Mrs. Condé Nast, and the King of Saudi Arabia, Mulberry, whose room showcases the best of this quintessentially English company’s checks, tweeds, leather and Flying Ducks, and Flemish Tapestries, which features precisely as the name suggests.
Not to miss. The fireplaces. The hotel was named by Harper’s Bazaar as having one of the top ten fireplaces in the UK and it is easy to see why. All can be enjoyed in the company of your pooch.
Rooms welcoming to dogs start from. £288/night B&B.
Chien Bleu exclusive. The £15/night fee for dogs is kindly waived for all doggie guests of Chien Bleu.
Treats for the four-legged friend. Dog treats, dog bed, dog bowls, dogs welcome in the public spaces other than the dining room, country romps straight from the door.
Treats for the two-legged. Spa, indoor swimming pool, fitness centre, golf, tennis, falconry, archery, tennis, horse riding, off-road driving, croquet.
Driving times. Birmingham – 1 ½ hours, Bristol – 2 ¾ hours, Exeter - 4 hours, Edinburgh – 5 ½ hours, Glasgow – 5 ½ hours, London, West (M25/M4 Intersection) - 2 hours, London, East (M25, Dartford Crossing) - 2 ¼ hours, Manchester – 2 ¼ hours