This weekend we travelled down to the Cotswolds to spend a few days at Cowley Manor for my boyfriends 30th birthday. The hotel itself is stunning, set in 55 acres of beautiful gardens with lakes and woodland and a gorgeous long patio that I imagine during the summer months is a heavenly place to relax with a drink. The main hotel houses (amongst other things) a lovely pool room - which I always think is a nice touch - a few lounges, the bar and the restaurant.
Our room (room 6) was in an outbuilding and was split over three floors, the lounge downstairs, bathroom in the middle and the bedroom at the top. The bed was a-mazing and we had a fantastic night sleep both nights. The shower was heaven, and the bath was mahoosive, even for two people, they should probably supply a life ring. The room was quirky and different and that's exactly what I wanted from a two night stay. I've never stayed anywhere where I haven't been able to find fault with the room, and Cowley Manor was no exception. Small things were noticeable, like the shower light not working, the CD player not working, the curtains coming away from the top runner in places... all silly little things that should be flagged up in a final room inspection before every check-in. We had breakfast in the room on our first morning there, which arrived late, and missing my eggs, which were a pretty integral part of my eggs, bacon and sausage... We also did not receive the paper that we were offered on either morning. If you are going to have breakfast in your room, be aware that you will either have to eat sitting on the floor or on the sofa with your plate on your lap as they don't set up a table and chairs for you.
Although this is beginning to sound like a bad review, it is not. I think that it is a lovely hotel with great intentions, but it is let down by its staff and a terrible lack of communication between different parts of the hotel. This was no more evident than at dinner on my boyfriends actual birthday when the wrong thing was brought to us on three different occasions and then to top it off, the dessert plate with 'Happy Birthday' written on it was presented to me. The waiting staff in the restaurant seemed to be completely confused the whole time we were there, serving things to the wrong tables, forgetting soup spoons, not bringing the bread, serving tables in the wrong order etc. This was also the case with breakfast in the restaurant, to the point where it became amusing.
That being said, when the food did come, to the correct people, it was fantastic. I had a wonderful mini beef pie to start - so good I had it both nights - and possibly the best lamb I have ever had, served with roasted garlic mash the first night, and an equally good pork belly the second night. The desserts were also delicious, as were the two different wines we had, and the cocktails we sampled. The lunch menu was also great, with my boyfriend having 'the best burger of his life' two days in a row.
We had a few treatments in the 'Award-winning spa' which were really lovely, as was the spa itself. There are two gorgeous pools, indoor and outdoor, both heated and lovely and clean. There are friendly staff in there and big jugs of cucumber water everywhere, which I appreciated. There is also the whole lovely range of Green & Spring products available to buy there, the brand that the hotel has in all of its rooms. I'm a sucker for a candle, so got one of the bigger ones, but I could have bought everything, the products that I had tried in the room were gorgeous.
All in all the break was lovely, and exactly what we wanted. We had a lovely comfy room, fantastic food, lovely walks, gorgeous villages nearby and great relaxing spa treatments. The problems that we experienced I mentioned to the manager, who seemed genuinely upset that our stay hadn't been perfect. All of the problems seem to me to be staff related, and he said that he would be addressing the issues, so hopefully once that is done, the hotel will be flawless.
Despite the negatives, I would stay again and would also recommend it to any of my friends, so Cowley Manor is getting a 7 out of 10.