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Review: We Check Out A Unique Hotel in Staffordshire
February 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

Described as 'a hotel like no other', with five lakes, forgotten follies and every room promising an incredible view, we couldn't have been more excited as we headed to The Tawny

When my husband and I booked back in September, it was a case of 'that weekend in November looks free', but as our two night mini-break approached we couldn't have been more grateful - we both really needed a break.

As we headed up the drive we were instantly blown away by the beauty of the Staffordshire landscape. The sky was icy blue and the lakes were glistening silver, in perfect contrast with the surrounding trees that fired up the landscape in every shade of orange. This is the type of scene that tricks you into thinking that autumn is the UK’s most beautiful season and instantly you know in your bones that this is a place to be at one with nature.

As a full time entrepreneur, part time travel writer, I recognise the power of a good brand. I am all too aware of the thought, time, energy and effort that goes into its creation and I also know the challenge of authentically delivering that brand ethos day in day out. In my opinion, only the top hotels in the world truly succeed in creating a brand essence – details linked together so carefully that they create a mutual feeling among guests – and The Tawny does that.

Checking in, the staff were incredibly welcoming. They’re so well dressed in their navy Barbours that at first we confused them for guests. As we sat by the log-burning fire, the welcome team gave us a helpful map of the estate and explained that The Tawny is actually what they described as a ‘deconstructed hotel’. This means that there are 55 different rooms scattered around the estate, from shepherd’s huts to treehouses and boathouses. This not only gives guests flexibility to choose their preferred accommodation style, but it also enables the Tawny to cater to a variety of budgets. Every room has its own outdoor bath, and dogs are welcome for a fee of £25.

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The estate itself can take an hour to walk around, but the majority of the rooms are located no more than a 10-minute walk from the main communal spaces (the reception area, the outdoor pool and the Plumicorn restaurant). We were driven down to our room in an e-buggy, the main form of transportation around the estate which helps to preserve the peace and allows the wildlife to flourish.

As we soon discovered, one of the main benefits of a deconstructed hotel is the sense of privacy and space that comes with having your own lodge, however a top tip is to ensure you book your e-buggy in advance at peak times, as you could be waiting up to 20 minutes for a lift and I do not recommend the (sometimes steep) walk to dinner in high heels.

We are staying in one of the Retreats, which is fitted with a king-size bed, a lounge area, floor to ceiling windows, an indoor bath (that looks like a spa) and an outdoor bath and shower (which basically is a private spa!). Throughout the room we find little touches of Tawny personality, from books on forest bathing and a chess set, to a bottle of prosecco and a welcome note from the hotel manager. The room itself is modern and oh-so-cleverly immersed in nature, the very wallpaper changes by the hour and you imagine, by the season. And if you haven’t sat in an outdoor bath, watching a perfect autumnal sunset sipping prosecco, I 10/10 recommend it.

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That evening we ordered our buggy and headed to the restaurant for dinner. The menu is all about local and seasonal, and the food is truly excellent. There is an extensive wine list to accompany and the staff are knowledgeable and happy to help. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and although we were tempted to linger, the peace of our room was calling and we headed back to sit on our balcony undisturbed, wrapped in blankets, to watch the stars overhead.

To really make the most of The Tawny, I would definitely recommend at least a two-night stay. Waking up late the following morning we explored more of the estate (wellies are available to borrow at reception if needed). We attempted forest bathing (a Japanese art where you immerse yourself in nature), and learnt all about the history of the grounds through helpful story-telling sign posts scattered along the trails. We enjoyed a swim in the heated outdoor pool with its incredible views across the valley, and even had time for a glass of red wine and a game of chess. The perfect day of escapism.

Although we didn’t use it, there is a spa on site (a converted writer’s cottage with a single cosy treatment room), and a range of treatments available from raindrop therapy to facials, but book early to ensure you get a slot, as naturally it is very popular with guests.

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On Sunday night we headed back to the restaurant, but this time we opted for the more relaxed bar menu. The restaurant was definitely quieter than the previous evening and staff explained that on Sundays many of the guests enjoy a long Sunday lunch, and then order room-service in the evening – which on reflection definitely sounds like a plan! It’s a good job that we know for next time…

Fast Facts
The Tawny Hotel is centre stage on a 70-acre estate in Staffordshire. Check-in is available from 3pm and we drove the three and a half hours from Newcastle, but it is possible to get the train to Stoke-on-Trent and jump in a 20-minute taxi. There are family-friendly rooms, and inter-connecting rooms available. Dogs are welcome for a fee but must be kept on leads within the grounds.

Consul Lae, Stoke-on-Trent ST9 0AG
01538 787664

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