The long winding road that leads to Lainston House Hotel fills you with giddy anticipation from the first instance. Set in 63 acres of beautiful Hampshire parkland the hotel is housed in a 17th century country building that oozes grandeur. “I wish this was my house,” said Mrs TLE as we parked up, you and me both, I thought, as I tried to soak in the luscious green trees and hedges that swamp parts of the building, complementing the white and pink flowers that are dotted around the grounds.
A valet was immediately on hand to offer park the car, perhaps out of sympathy for our toil along the long drive that leads to the hotel. As we walked into the main entrance the greeting from the friendly and professional reception staff was exceeded only by the roaring log fire that made us feel instantly at home; albeit in the home of our dreams.
We were taken through the maze of corridors and given the keys Maplewood suite, which the hotel porter said was one of the nicer suites. He certainly had a good case; the room wasn’t big, it was huge. It consisted of a four poster bed, three separate seating areas, his and hers vanity mirrors, Jacuzzi bath and a walk-in shower room. Mrs TLE pointed out that our newly purchased flat in London was the probably smaller than the bathroom, I said it is probably smaller than the walk in shower room! Sadly more fact than fiction.
There were a number of activities on offer at the hotel including jogging/walking trail map, mountain bikes, archery, motor sports, clay pigeon shooting, falconry and even duck herding, given you the chance to really soak in the Hampshire countryside. Unfortunately we had both had work to do, but I was appeased by the thought that there are a lot worse places to do some writing than here. I imagined Wordsworth might have sat in the same room and written some of his great works. I enjoyed the thought, but was unable to replicate the notion in my own work.
Dinner was booked at 8pm in the Avenue restaurant, which is an intimate, elegant restaurant. Their Chefs source the finest local ingredients and pick produce daily from the kitchen garden.
We sat down in the wood panelled room and took a look at food options, the eight course taster menu just screamed “eat me”, and I was not one to argue. The wine menu was very extensive with options from all over the world ranging in price from £40 to, well, a lot more than I care to mention. But a fantastic choice for budget of all sizes.
Head Chef Olly Rouse said: “The journey a meal takes you on should be all encompassing and unique to everyone.” He came out to personally present us our amuse-bouche, a cleansing tea, which he said dated back thousands of years (the recipe and not the actual drink), and it was actually a lot nicer than I had anticipated from the description.
Then it was time for the tasting. Every course was delightful in its own way and the waitress was kind enough to explain each one as they arrived. I couldn’t fault any of the courses, but the Wild Mushroom risotto, Chicken and Oyster peanut, and the Lamb with broad bean falafel, mint emulsion were my particular favourites.
After the meal we wanted to have a quick cocktail in the sumptuous bar, but sadly the meal had beaten us. We wandered along the winding corridors and fell into our four poster bed, feeling truly spoilt.
Lainston House can be found at Woodman Lane, Sparsholt, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 2LT