Like a number of the stories on this blog, this one is likely to be something of a serial, although I will try to get the tale told as quickly as I can.
In Episode One, we arrive at the hotel check into our room and settle in.
Oh, only it could ever be that simple.
The story really starts at home where Sue was itching to get out and on the way to Thoresby even before we had packed our case, had our breakfast or, in my case, woken up properly. I managed to bring a little sense to the proceedings and the ritual of breakfast was reinstated to our world, the suitcase was packed with a few essentials, such as Sue’s face cream, body cream, foot cream and, I suspect, cream for every other external part of her. I threw a few CDs into my bag, along with a couple of pairs of socks and a book.
By the time we had finished the bag-filling part of the adventure and Sue was satisfied that I wouldn’t be wandering around the hotel dressed only in socks and CDs. Even so, I brought back a pair of unworn trousers and a pair of unworn socks.
I had already found out (from the website) that we could get into our room from 3:30pm and was quite ready to allow the day to unwind so that we arrived there at about 3:30pm. No, this wouldn’t do. Sue had discovered (by phoning the hotel) that we could arrive from 12:30pm.
In true Chuffing Hog Family style, we compromised and set out a few minutes after 12:00 noon for a 30 minute journey into North Nottinghamshire.
The drive from the A614 into the Thoresby Estate took us physically and metaphorically away from the 21st century and back into the heyday of the stately home.
At least, it did until the hotel itself came into view. We were faced with a very modern-looking building that could have been the Worksop Travelodge, except that the Worksop Travelodge is tucked in behind a filling station, just of a roundabout on the edge of that fair town.
By the way, this particular Travelodge has some fond personal memories for me, but that’s another story for another time – maybe.
A significant contrast with the Worksop Travelodge as that the building in front of us was surrounded by spectacular woodland scenery (and a large car park).
This first impression was challenged as I spotted the porters standing by for arriving guests bags. They don’t have porters at the Worksop Travelodge. We had left our bags in the car and walked the few yards into reception where the last vestiges of any Travelodge comparisons were instantly vapourised. Reception at Thoresby Hall is in the modern wing of the hotel, but it has a feel of luxury from moment I stepped onto the decking outside the main door.
Reception was fairly busy, but after no more than a moment’s wait, we were quickly welcomed by Kate, one of the receptionists who was due to go off duty within a few minutes. However, it seems that nothing was too much trouble for her once she had ascertained that we were Warner Holiday virgins.
We had already spotted a sign on the reception desk offering a special offer on a room upgrade. We are both suckers for any kind of bargain, so we showed some interest. As a result, Kate took us on a guided tour of the hotel, showing us into a suite in the original house (our first sight of anything beyond the modern building). She then showed us a Historic Room before taking back to the modern part of the hotel to show us what is known as a signature room. In fact, the only type of room that we didn’t see was the one we had originally booked, an Ambassador room.
Along the way, we were shown the location of the Spa, the three restaurants, the library, Great Hall and the other public, or in Thoresby-speak, the State Room of the old house.
We were even introduced to George and Mildred, but more of them in a later episode.
Sue was very impressed by the modern Signature Room, but I wanted to upgrade to the Historic Room. Amazingly, my view prevailed for once, and our bags were whisked away by one of the porters to the Historic Room.
We also booked for dinner on Friday night in Fenocchi’s, Thoresby Hall’s Italian restaurant, and for Saturday, Sue’s birthday, in the Blue Room, their a la carte restaurant.
We pottered about for a while, exploring the vast complex discovering just how much there was to do. There are organised activities and entertainment from morning until late evening.
As I have mentioned already Thoresby Hall is one of the Warner Holiday centres and this company is well known as being for adults only. It was great that the entertainment and activities are all geared up for adults and that there is no pressure to dilute or dumb down for children.
It is well known that I love children – especially if they’re properly cooked and served with baked beans (although I couldn’t eat a whole one these days). However, it’s normally the parents that I want to grab by the throat when they allow their little darlings to run riot. It was the complete absence of this that I appreciated most within a few minutes of arriving at Thoresby Hall. In fact, the place has an atmosphere of peace and quiet, broken occasionally by laughter or a slightly louder than usual conversation.
Eventually we went up to our room to relax for a while before dinner. This is where things started to go a little pear-shaped. Not for me, you understand. I “relaxed” onto the bed and went to sleep for an hour or so.
However, Sue didn’t.
Just outside our window was what would once have been a courtyard area. It has now been roofed over and is the Pierrepont Restaurant, named after the family who once lived there. It also had a number of extractor fans, one of which was just below the room. This fan prevented Sue from getting any sleep. Anyway, before I get ahead of myself, it’s worth saying that Sue had already had a bath, we had both washed our hair, I had eaten one of complimentary apples and we had pretty effectively settled in the room.
So, we debated for a while before Sue marched off to reception with me trailing behind, trying not to look too embarrassed. Another of Thoresby hall’s receptionists who is destined for sainthood is Jo. She checked, but was adamant that there was no other historic room that we could move into. After some discussion that included a return trip to reception, Jo offered us a move to a Signature Room.
Sue was delighted and I soon came round because it WAS a better room. The historic rooms that we saw looked a little tired and in need of some refurbishment, although no-one could ever complain about the comfort of the bed.
We quickly packed our bags and left them to be moved to our new room while we went off to Fenocchi’s for our meal.
In my book, this meal alone made up for the hassle with the room. It was fabulous. Sue has steak and I had a swordfish steak. Both of our meals were wonderful. From the starter to the dessert, and the really good bottle of wine that washed down our dinner, everything was perfect. Andrew, our waiter maintained the very high quality of service and professional friendliness that everyone on the staff team at Thoresby Hall exudes. I really wondered whether the Blue Room, which is promoted as the pinnacle of dining at Thoresby, could equal, let alone surpass this meal.
We would find out on the Saturday night when we ate in there for Sue’s birthday dinner.
Part 2 of this tale picks up after the meal with Friday night’s entertainment and our Spa experience on Saturday.