The origins of this hotel are interesting indeed…
The Holford family of Westonbirt, near Tetbury, lived and farmed here from 1665, occupying firstly an Elizabethan house. In 1839 the head of the family, Robert Staynor Holford, inherited a fortune from his uncle, who had supplied water to London, through selling shares in the new river company.
This windfall (or waterfall?) spurred Robert to build two marvellous houses, the first (1850) on Park Lane was known as Dorchester House - a site is now occupied by the famous Dorchester Hotel. Secondly he built Westonbirt House, a neo- Elizabethan Palace.
This magnificent house was thought of as the most expensive house constructed in Victorian times, with reputedly up to 300 men beavering away for over 10 years to re-site the village, alter the course of the now A433, install a gas works, water pumping station, huge walled kitchen gardens, extensive stables and workers’ cottages and inspiring an hotel, the subject of this month’s review.
The Hare and Hounds is a traditional, but delightful hotel built in Cotswold limestone.
There has been a wonderful transformation in recent years, leading to a property with stylish touches and a great sense of panache, richness and tranquillity.
There exists here an admirable ethos and will to succeed, making this a fine watering hole. It is Extremely well run - the hotel having formerly been a slightly neglected but well respected place lacking much buzz or charisma.
Now! Enter you intrepid foodies and we will see what delights the kitchen and front of house team can rustle up.
What a success our evening was, nothing to burst the conviviality bubble of good, no, excellent English hospitality, albeit with a host of nationalities steering the ‘ship’ through a wonderful meal. The Beaufort Room has spectacularly high ceilings and is very imposing, yet our table with charming views of the manicured gardens was stylish and snug in a corner.
Really generous camparis served with flair preceded. Amuse-bouches were professional and imaginative, we loved the popcorn. A lobster fritter bathed in bisque was epic, a meal of these alone would be heavenly!
Dear old scallops for Sandie, my wife, she loves them and they were a picture, so per-fectly cooked and married to pancetta. My rabbit and foie gras, served as a ballotine rolled in parma ham, the puree was pistachio, lime green with pickled cherries - the colours making a perfect balance.
A strange glass of what was called ‘palate cleanser’ probably needs rethinking but was smooth and soothing.
Sandie was thrilled with her John Dory with beurre blanc, generous and ‘a point’. For me, well the word ‘poussin’ usually fills me with slight reservations, but this little dar-ling did not die in vain, a well composed dish and a treat. The cannelloni of chicken mousse was silky and memorable.
I have a well known, well to my family and friends, aversion to carrots, mainly because I was threatened with them ‘doing me good’. However, the pretty dessert combined carrots in several ways... scrummy!
A Vidal Reserve Series Pinot Noir, Hawkes Bay 2012 made by a Spanish family who emigrated to New Zealand in the early 20th century, was quite up to the mark and a well filled glass of rich Rutherglen Muscat saw off the carrot phobia quickly.
Many thanks to David Hammond and his team in the kitchen and Kreger, Ania and Balazs the multinational front brigade for a charming evening.
Oh and there was a sybariticly furnished ‘Woody’ room, all the lovely rooms are named after trees here. Westonbirt, the National Arboretum is nearby of course - another legacy of Robert Staynot Halford and his descendants. The Arboretum is now visited by 350,000 people a year.
Restaurant DetailThe Hare and Hounds Hotel
Westonbirt, South of Tetbury
Tel: 01666 881000