This is a blog I have been looking forward to writing. Why? Simply because our stay at Hogarth’s Stone Manor was wonderful! I love hotel stays and this is my first collaboration in return for a complimentary stay on Saturday 15th September. I live quite near to Stone Manor and was keen to find out more about this hotel. Kidderminster does not have many restaurants, so trying to find different places to eat and drink can be a challenge and a hotel is not somewhere I would usually consider going unless I was staying there. This stay was all about me finding out about the hotel facilities not just the accommodation.
Just a 5-minute drive through Stone from Kidderminster train station this hotel is conveniently located in reach of Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Worcester and Birmingham. The country setting makes you feel a million miles away from any surrounding town. The hotel is set in acres of land, which creates an idyllic setting for relaxing in the garden or for functions such as weddings. I actually attended a wedding around 4 years ago at Hogarth’s other hotel located in Solihull. A small family-run business the two hotels share the same values and outstanding reputation but are worlds apart in their décor and target audiences. Hogarth’s Solihull is modern and contemporary whereas taking on a major refurbishment Hogarths Stone Manor is full of character in its quirky Tudor like setting – olde world meets sleek luxury. I remember going to Stone Manor many years ago when it was run as a Best Western hotel and the place was so run down. It smelt as soon as you walked in the door and it was dark and dingy so I was intrigued to go back and see what the set up was and what the hotel had to offer.
A warm and welcoming check-in awaited us and we were pleasantly surprised to find we had been upgraded to an executive room. We were escorted to our room and given an interesting talk about the history of the hotel. Once shown to our room we took the time to take a look around it. The room had masses of space and whilst having been refurbished to a luxury modern finish it still had lots of character and charm. It was a warm and cosy room located in the main house (no two rooms are the same). The bathroom had under floor heating (I don’t think I have come across this too often in hotel bathrooms so it was a lovely touch). The large bathtub had an impressive shower over it and fluffy towels and L’Occitane toiletries were provided (Wow – they smelt amazing!) Executive rooms also have the benefits of providing guests with robe and slippers, 40” television with freeview, free Wi-Fi, complimentary mineral water, kettle with hot drinks selection, an iron and a room safe. Everything you could need for a short or longer stay. A wonderful desk was provided with a mirror and sockets perfect for getting ready (as you will know from my last hotel review I like to have a dressing table where I can get ready.) The bed was huge and looked inviting – I couldn’t wait to get into that later on!
We decided to take a walk around the grounds to familiarise ourselves with the hotel and enjoyed a couple of drinks in the bar before heading back up to our room to get ready for our dinner reservation. I was pleasantly surprised to see for a late Saturday afternoon how many guests were enjoying afternoon tea. The bar offered a good selection of drinks, which for a hotel were reasonably priced – often hotels overcharge for drinks, as you are a captive audience. This is definitely a bonus and attracts visitors to enjoy the hotel facilities if not staying in the accommodation. I would certainly come back for drinks and enjoy the bar and lounge area and grounds in future. Whilst enjoying our drinks the restaurant manager Mathew came to introduce himself and offered us a glance at the dining rooms menu so we could see what was on offer in the restaurant for dinner that evening. The menu was impressive and I was looking forward to eating. We noticed on the way back up to our room to get ready for the evening that there were many functions taking place; a wedding, birthday party and a hen party – clearly a popular place to hold events.
As we returned back down to the restaurant for dinner we were greeted once again by Mathew who showed us to a cosy table in the window. The dining room was lovely. It was cosy and atmospheric with the tables spaced out enough to create privacy but also a good atmosphere. The dining room was nearly full when we walked in at 8pm. I can’t be sure if all diners were staying at the hotel or if they were people coming into dine from elsewhere – from first impressions I guessed it was a good mix of both as this is somewhere I would definitely come to dine without staying over at the hotel. Mathew was knowledgeable about the menu and the wines and talked us through dishes helping us decide on our order. Our dinner was complimentary as part of our stay but we expected to pay for dishes that were extra outside of the set menu and for drinks. The menu offered an affordable set menu for guests, which would also be included in certain room rates but also offered a range of more lavish dishes. We were told how popular the Sunday lunches were and also special offers that run on specific nights with incentives for people to dine here, all of which would be of interest to me in the future. The menu is changed regularly to correlate with the seasons too, which is nice as produce used on the menu is sourced from local suppliers and encourages returning diners to come back to sample new dishes.
We enjoyed a glass of rose prosecco to begin with whilst we pondered over the menu and ordered. We opted for a bottle of one of my favourite wines to accompany our starters and mains, Chablis – always a sign of a good wine list. For starters I ordered the scallops. I love fish and I always find it a treat to order it when dining out, as I don’t cook enough of it at home. The black pudding accompanying the scallops was locally sourced and delicious. Unusually the dish came with a toffee apple puree and roasted cauliflower. I was unsure at first about ordering this as I am not keen on toffee but it was divine. It added just enough sweetness to the dish without overpowering it. Very clever and tasty. The scallops were cooked to perfection and I could have easily eaten more! My husband unusually opted for a fish starter too choosing the torched Mackerel served with horseradish, hazelnut and beetroot texture. It was such a pretty colourful dish and there wasn’t a bone in sight – he really enjoyed it.
The main courses stepped up to the next level. I opted for the pressed belly of pork – it was the pork and apple faggot that sold it for me, as I adore homemade faggots. The dish was served with fennel and celeriac fondant, both of which added something special to the dish adding lovely flavours and textures. I polished it off. My husband chose the chicken ‘Safina’ dish from the Flambé menu. Something we don’t see on offer very often. Available on Fridays and Saturdays the restaurant also offers a beef medallions option. The chef came over to the table to inform us he was about to begin cooking the chicken so that we could watch him. It was lovely to see him cook it and watch the flames – a show stopper and a talking point in the restaurant adding a little bit of glamour to what could have just been an ordinary chicken dish. I tried some of the chicken and the sauce it was served in was beautiful. It was unbelievably tasty and I would love to have this dish in future. My husband was very impressed and again a very clean plate was left. Both dishes were served with a side of sauté potatoes and seasonal greens.
We were enjoying the food so much we decided to opt for a sharing platter of cheese for dessert accompanied by a very large smooth glass of Rioja suggested to us by Mathew. The cheese board came with very cute black heart shaped biscuits, which is a really sweet touch and served with celery, grapes and chutney. Again the little details make this place stand out and memorable. All dishes were beautifully presented and on par with some of the best five-star hotels and Michelin star restaurants I have had the pleasure of visiting in the past. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and we both said it was one of the nicest meals we have had the pleasure of having in a long time and definitely one of the best meals we’ve had in Kidderminster and in a hotel. We retired back to the bar for a few cheeky gins before heading off to bed. We had a great night’s sleep in the comfy bed. The room was dark, warm and quiet – perfect!
Sadly, we didn’t want to get up and leave but we decided to get up at 8am for breakfast as we were informed on a Sunday morning it can get extremely busy between 9am – 10am when it finishes being served. We once again got seated at a lovely window seat in the dining room, which was nice as we could now enjoy breakfast in the light and look out over the garden. The dining room soon began to fill up so I was glad we chose to get there early. The waiter asked us about our evening and then took an order for hot drinks – the rest was self-service which I really love as I can see what I want and how things are cooked. I love a buffet and I went straight for the fruits, yogurts, cereals and pastries and of course my husband went for the hot cooked breakfast items. The choice was great and we both really enjoyed it.
Before checking out on the Sunday morning I met with Sarah the Sales and Marketing Manager who helped me organise my stay. She gave me an in-depth talk about the hotel’s background and what Hogarth’s have done since taking over. Sarah is very enthusiastic about her role and is doing an amazing job with events and functions being very supportive of charities also. I’m really grateful to her for the fantastic stay, as it has opened my eyes about using a hotel for its facilities and not just a place to stay. We couldn’t fault a thing – it was honestly a wonderful stay from start to finish! This hotel is also dog–friendly scoring big points in my books. The hotel provides dog friendly areas to eat and drink plus the grounds to walk and dog-friendly rooms to stay in where puppy packs are provided for all your dog’s needs. What a fabulous idea as I really do feel there are not enough dog friendly hotels around. I would love to bring my puppy here in the future to stay!
The customer service I received from several members of staff during my visit was outstanding. The knowledge and service from them were impeccable. I would like to make a special mention to Stephen Spall (Assistant Manager), Mathew Hyde (Restaurant Manger) and Daniel Brennan (Reception Manager). We have booked tickets to the forthcoming fireworks event-taking place on Friday 2nd November (again in aid of charity) and I have kindly been invited back for festive afternoon tea with my mother in December so I am really looking forward to that!
Please note I was invited to Hogarth’s Stone Manor for a complimentary one night stay with dinner and breakfast with a plus one. All opinions and photos used in this blog are my own.