Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Review: Ravenwood Hall Hotel

Here goes my first try at being a little more creative with my writing style, please don't judge me too harshly ; ) I was swimming in a large outdoor pool that reminded me of a blue lagoon in colour (see, I told you I was trying to be a bit more creative!), with the hot sun beaming down on me and surrounded by grapevines and roses. I felt as though I was indulging myself on a French vineyard, however this was in fact the historic Ravenwood Hall Hotel, just 3 miles from Bury St Edmunds. Ravenwood Hall Hotel There are Fourteen impressive bedrooms, each with a private bathroom and furnished with antiques reflecting the history and tradition of Ravenwood Hall, but each with modern comforts including wifi and tea making facilities, all the important stuff. "You are in fact staying in the oldest bedroom at Ravenwood" claimed the valet as he showed me to my room & placed my case next to an original luggage trunk on the low-beamed bedroom floor. "The floor is uneven and the doors are low, so do mind your head" he smiled as he noted my ducking under the door as I followed behind him - Noted for later that evening should I decide to have a tipple or two. Ravenwood Hall Hotel The history of Ravenwood Hall is actually very much shrouded in mystery, nobody, not even expert researchers can be sure exactly who built Ravenwood Hall, formally known as The Rookery. But, there are clues, it's believed to have been built around 1530 during the reign of Henry VIII for a woman of some local importance. This luxurious hotel is the perfect location to play a spot of croquet within its 7 acres, whilst imagining yourself in his reign. Ravenwood Hall Hotel After some exploring, I had decided that a dip in the pool was a must. It was a sweltering day so the fresh blast of cold water was sadistically welcoming and I enjoyed the silence around me other than the birds nesting & cooing in the tall trees around me. The attentive bar staff even catered to my hankering of a pot of English Breakfast Tea by the poolside once I had finished my exercise, these were the small perks of a midweek stay, I was in heaven. The staff were friendly everywhere I went, offering chats between jobs and answering my nosey questions about this fantastic venue, complete with ponies, horses and even goats, homemade goats cheese curd was on the evening menu, so not only were these little beggars entertaining and very cute, they were very useful as well. "It's dog friendly too" my waitress pointed out, which is great to hear next time I have my canine companion holidaying with me. Ravenwood Hall Hotel The food didn't disappoint, as I knew it wouldn't, I had saved myself all day knowing I was going to eat well with my companion that evening. We picked some spiced roasted almonds and a warm bread basket to go with our refreshing ciders on the patio before heading indoors for a starter of pan seared Cornish scallops, with cauliflower fritters and curried cauliflower puree, these were melt in the mouth and slid down a treat. Ravenwood Hall Hotel For mains I opted for the caraway scented wild honey glazed Telmara duck breast, served with pak choi, parmentier potatoes & infusion of Suffolk cider. It was delicious, the duck was so tender that you hardly had to chew it and the crunch of the pak choi worked really well in colour and texture against the rest of the dish. My partner in dining crime (he was cutting his bread roll with a knife and resting elbows on tables, truly shocking behaviour!) went for the rolled sirloin of Scottish premier beef, served with roasted cherry wine tomatoes, hand cut chips and mixed sauteed mushrooms. Again, this meat was melt in the mouth, I can think of no other wording for it, a huge steak and plenty of sides to accompany it, we certainly weren't going to bed hungry. Ravenwood Hall Hotel In fact, our persuasive waitress managed to tempt us into a dessert too, amusing us with the title of the menu, "I know I shouldn't But!"... It's so true, it made us chuckle. We chose a dessert each and shared, it would have been rude not to, seeing as there was a huge selection to choose from, it was actually very tricky to settle on our decisions. We went for the salted caramel & chocolate tart with clotted cream ice cream & hokey Pokey which was truly delicious. We also went for the quattro of desserts, which including a poached apple, lemon cheesecake, chocolate mousse & bakewell tart. Needless to say, we ate like a King & Queen, as would have King Henry and one (or many?!) of his wives whilst visiting for a refuel. Ravenwood Hall Hotel And, after indulging in the delicious food, there was only one thing to do and that was to retire to our fabulous four poster bed and read a book with a cuppa in hand whilst we enjoyed the sunset from our country retreat. The next day we were offered breakfast in bed or within the restaurant, of which we opted for. I went for the Suffolk Ham & Poached Eggs and a strong pot of coffee, which even with a vat full of milk, was still allowing my teaspoon to stand up strong, my kind of morning cuppa! This fueled me for a second dip in the heated outdoor pool, a few hours work in the garden followed by some reading under a tree, it was a hard life. Ravenwood Hall Hotel I hadn't finished yet, my main reason for my visit was to sample their highly regarded afternoon tea, of which had been recommended to me by various food lovers over the past few months. This was a very traditional afternoon tea which surprised me after such a modern and amazing dinner the night before. I was expecting something modern here, but I quite liked the differences in both as it kept me on my toes. The teapot was a heavy silver pourer that did the afternoon tea proud, no spilling of my Earl Grey here, of which is a common occurrence with more modern teapots with wide spouts. Ravenwood Hall Hotel The finger sandwiches on offer were varied, including Salmon & cucumber, cheddar & tomato, egg mayonnaise & cress and Suffolk ham & mustard. Although not dainty - man sized finger sandwiches - a bonus if you love your savoury to be fair. Then onto the warm fruit scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, followed by the largest cake selection I've ever been presented with on a tier, even I was defeated and had to take most home in a doggy bag for my family afterwards. Cakes change seasonally, but for this one I was sampling chocolate brownie, fruit loaf, bakewell tart, lemon drizzle, sticky ginger loaf AND miniature chocolate profiteroles. Ravenwood Hall Hotel Each piece was fresh and moist and the fruit loaf and lemon drizzle had a nice crust to it - perfect. The element I loved most was that there were in fact lots of elements, I felt like a kid in a sweet (or cake) shop... Tremendously generous servings at this afternoon tea, you certainly get value for money with this one! Ravenwood was peaceful, charming and romantic whilst offering us space to chat, refresh, eat superb food and stroll within stunning grounds, all just a stones throw from home. Ravenwood Hall Hotel I can see that Ravenwood Hall would appeal to everyone, not just for couples, but for individuals looking for a break away from everything, anyone on business looking for something special, even for friends or family looking for a large home to take over for a get together, stylish wedding or celebration. If you've dreamt of waking up in a four poster bed surrounded by wooden panelling, green trees and fields whilst hearing the click of horses hoofs pass your terraced window, well Ravenwood Hall Hotel is the stay for you. In fact, I would very much like to discuss coming back to Ravenwood to host an "Afternoon Tea Etiquette" workshop alongside their afternoon tea. With the history and fantastic food on offer, it would be the perfect combination. Ravenwood Hall Hotel I wonder if they would have me... Miss Sue Flay You can view my full photo album for this stay by clicking here. Ravenwood Hall Hotel ******************* During my stay the hotel was undergoing some renovations, however apologies were made regularly throughout my stay and shouldn't last too much longer, so do check on booking. Please note - This stay was complimentary, following a visit to view this venue and meet the team. I am in no means obliged to blog or write about their offerings, but I simply choose to share their offerings with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. Any questions, please do email:

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