Short break - Barton Grange Hotel, Preston
PUBLISHED: 19:04 25 August 2016 | UPDATED: 19:04 25 August 2016
When you choose a hotel you have certain hopes for the comfort of the room, the service from the staff and the quality of the food. The Barton Grange Hotel in Lancashire ticks every box.
A warm Lancashire greeting brightened an otherwise dull day when my husband and I arrived at Barton Grange Hotel and set the scene of every one of our interactions with the staff there. Friendly and relaxed, we immediately felt like wanted guests, rather than simply another meet and greet task to be efficiently dealt with.
This feeling of being looked after persisted when we entered our room. A home-from-home isn’t really what we want when we travel; what we want is to feel cared for, special, spoiled even. At home we have lots to do, all day – no time for lounging about with an empty day planner. The discovery of a Nespresso machine and a collection of capsules was our first hint that the owners of Barton Grange Hotel get that. After a drive up the M6, all that anybody wants is fresh coffee and a slump! The rooms are packed with little details that make a stay special. My husband immediately linked his iPhone to the Ruark Bluetooth speaker and I checked out the bathroom. You know why – those little bottles of toiletries a hotel chooses to provide says a lot about their attitude to the guests! A complete collection of fragrant, marine cosmetics brand Algotherm was a pleasant surprise – no run of the mill stuff here! Hubby happy with free WiFi and Sky TV to keep up with Olympic triumphs, I headed to the pool for a swim and a sauna. There’s a gym too, but steady on!
The hotel recently appointed a new executive head chef for its Walled Garden restaurant, the multi award-winning James Chapman. James has achieved a number of accolades including five Rosettes and the staging of a Royal Warrant Holders Banquet for HM Queen Elizabeth during the Golden Jubilee at The London Hilton and has joined The Walled Garden from the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel in Manchester where he was head chef.
The restaurant celebrates traditional British food, such as a Morecambe Dressed Crab and Walled Garden Lancashire Rarebit and, of course, a slow-cooked Lancashire Hotpot, so we were looking forward to a comfortable meal – and we weren’t disappointed. While my wholly carnivorous man opted swiftly for a platter of local meats (including an entire homemade pork pie) followed by rib eye and chips, I dithered over options such as Fleetwood mussels and locally sourced wild pigeon before landing on a goats cheese fondant in a ginger crumb, followed by slow cooked shoulder of lamb.
Before I say anything else – be warned, Lancashire portion control is not for the faint hearted. Or those attempting to diet. It’s fabulously generous and when food is as well cooked as this is, wonderfully dangerous. Mike enjoyed every part of his starter, though he wisely ignored the bread. My goats cheese, accompanied by a golden raisin and carrot salsa, was utterly delicious but about twice what I should have eaten, though not twice what I ate! Mike’s steak was beautiful; perfectly pink and juicy and with a creamy, rich blue cheese sauce I couldn’t resist dipping (his) chips in. My lamb was soft and rich, full of flavour and utterly British. Neither of us finished…but then, we were hanging out for a Sticky Toffee Pudding. Oh, get thee behind me pastry chef! No, I’ve changed my mind – come and live with me and make me sticky toffee pudding every day.
After a meal that satisfying, our beds called… and we answered.
The next morning we chose to have breakfast in our room, so with croissants and coffee delivered dot on nine, we planned our day. Blackpool isn’t so far away, but being child-free we weren’t about to immerse ourselves in donkeys and rock, so in an effort to work off some of that sticky toffee pudding we headed to the glorious Ribble Valley countryside for a stroll in the sunshine.