If you want a bit of peaceful luxury in the Leicestershire countryside with your pup, this is the place for you!
Does anyone else pretend they are a character from Downton Abbey when they make their way up a long snaking driveway to an incredible old stately home hotel at the end of it? It can't just be me. I'd heard Stapleford Park was amazing from a friend who recommended it, but you really have to go somewhere to make your own judgement call... and I can confirm that Stapleford Park is AMAZING! From the immaculate lawns to the 500 acres of Capability Brown land, every inch of this pile is gorgeous.
This is a house steeped in history. The website tells us that 'one of the earliest mentions of Stapleford is in the Norman survey of 1086'. That's how old it is! It has changed hands many times over the centuries, and in 1894 it was bought by master brewer John Gretton where it stayed in his family until 1982. American restauranteur Bob Payton bought it in 1982, and now it is privately owned by someone who fell in love with it. To see more of its history, click here.
You can see from the pictures on the right that the rooms are incredibly designed. This was our room, not all allow dogs, and it really has the wow factor. The matching human and dog beds (OMG!), the plush soft furnishings, the views that you can't see. Everything had been maticulously thought out.
There is silk wallpaper throughout most of the downstairs of the building, wood-clad corridors upstairs, tudor windows, big fireplaces warming up decadent dining rooms, dog references all over the place and some really really friendly, lovely staff.
And what's more, Stapleford Park are now offering the Doggy Divine package, perfect for a last minute Christmas staycation. The description pretty much sold it to me: 'Indulge your four-legged friend at Stapleford Park with our luxury canine package which includes doggy-afternoon tea and a bespoke dog bed.' Doggy afternoon tea? YES PLEASE! I did have to ask if it was just the dogs who got tea, or us humans too. All four of us ate. And ate and ate.
The Doggy Divine package includes: An overnight stay in a specially designed room, full English breakfast, afternoon tea, the amazing dog bed, dog toys, a dog sitter... the list goes on. Suffice to say, you and the pups are looked after really well. We were told by someone on the reception team that they are VERY used to dogs of all shapes and sizes staying at the hotel so nothing phases them, not even our rescue, Dolly, who does have a tendency to bark at everyone!
The doggy afternoon tea consisted of some yummy Lily's Kitchen kibble mixed with some heart-shaped chicken treats, dried vegetable crisps (that Dhillon found quite hard to eat), the cutest little peanut cookies, carab heart shaped chocolates and coconut and carob biscuits, PLUS some Pawsecco to top it all off. The dogs absolutely LOVED it all, and actually it was the most well thought out doggy treat we've had in a long time. We are the fussy ones - we're both vegan and the chef certainly catered for us REALLY well! From cakes to scones, nothing was missed off the menu. It was all delicious.
It's at this point I have to give a massive shout out to Andrew from Guest Services. He is without doubt the most helpful, friendly, knowledgable person we've spoken to at any hotel we've stayed at. From the minute we walked through the door he was brilliantly helpful, and gave us a fab little tour of the grounds and the buildings. Be sure to ask for him if you need help with anything, he's so happy to help.
We had a great dinner too, and the dogs were looked after by the sitting team at reception. They even managed to cope with Dolly's barking and her biting through Dhillon's lead. The chefs did a great job for us vegans, with amazing tomatoe and mushroom-based starters, a super tasty risotto and a delicious chocolate brownie with sorbet. Also, I can confirm that the gin selection at the bar is by far the best I've seen, as are the doggy paintings that line the walls.
Breakfast is always hard to manage at hotels - they are usually very milk based. There wasn't much we could indulge in, apart from the cereal and fruit selection. The kitchen hadn't quite mastered a vegan sausage, but we forgave them because of how amazing the afternoon tea and dinner was.
You can't leave Stapleford Park without having an almighty walk round the grounds. The dogs were in their element! The lake is beautiful and peaceful, and sidling up to the sheep was quite fun too. We had two tired pups after the walk, and headed for the gin bar to recoup.
Thank you to the team at Stapleford Park for making us feel very welcome. Be sure to check out Rutland Water which is very close by.
The Doggy Divine package starts from £475 for a state room and from £625.00 for a suite. For more details, and to book, click here.
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