Heythrop Park Resort in Oxfordshire is set on a huge 440 acre site – a proper country estate. There are two hotels on site – the DeVere Venues Heythrop Park Hotel is set in the old building, which looks a lot like Downton Abbey. The adjoining Crowne Plaza is set in a modern building, opened in 2010 by local resident, David Cameron! Together, the hotels have over 350 rooms.
The site has a golf course, spa and swimming pool, gym, conference facilities and even a little petting zoo for kids. It’s an amazing place to relax, especially if you or your partner is a golfer or you’re with older relatives who like to take things easy!
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza. We booked it as somewhere to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday, so wanted to choose somewhere that the whole family could get to relatively easily. As luck would have it, it was closer to home for our family than everyone else. (Although for such a huge site, it was remarkably difficult to find!)
The rooms weren’t cheap, in fact when I went online to check the prices for this post, I couldn’t even find them!
Like pretty much all hotels, Heythrop Park didn’t have rooms for five (why don’t more hotels cater for families of five?!). The main reason we selected this hotel, rather than some of the others we’d looked at, was because we’d been told we could have two rooms with an interconnecting door. That way, my two sons, aged 13 and 11, could share a room and my 8 year old daughter could share a room with my husband and I.
But that didn’t go to plan. Not only were our rooms not connected, they weren’t even close to each other. They were on the same floor, but there were several corridors between them. We should have complained and asked for the rooms we’d been promised or, at the very least, rooms which were closer to each other. As it was, I felt unhappy about leaving the boys on their own in a room, so my husband ended up sharing with them and I shared with my daughter.
The petting zoo was too far away for us to even find, but we had a swim in the lovely warm, swimming pool. My eldest son also had a go in the gym (under 16s are only allowed in with supervision). The gym was small and we were the only ones in there, which was nice. The music was way too loud, though!
As there were so many of us, we were asked to order our evening meal at the hotel’s Brassey Restaurant in advance. The menu isn’t cheap, at £23.95 for two courses and £23.95 for three course. Children’s menus are available which are, again, quite expensive. As a vegetarian, I was disappointed with the selection of food available and chose not to have a starter. Having chosen our food in advance, and with a 2 year old in our group, as well as four children aged 8-13, we would have hoped to have been served pretty quickly, but the service was slow. My husband’s main course got forgotten, as did my pudding (because I was the only one who ordered pudding). Having booked the table for 6.30pm, it was disappointing to be wolfing my pudding down at 5 to 9 because the kids were tired and wanted to go to bed.
The bedrooms are comfortable and decorated differently from many hotels. They had all the usual coffee, tea and biscuits and a decent selection of toiletries in the bathroom. Personally, I found the rooms a bit too glitzy, but I’m sure many people would like them.
I was disappointed that there were no instructions in the room of how to do things – I’d had to work out the internet myself (and it was still very dodgy), my son had to sort the TV out for us and I’d eventually worked the air conditioning out at midnight – the temperature of the room had been set way too high for us.
Breakfast in the restaurant was good, with plenty of choice in hot and cold food. When I asked if they did veggie sausages, they were happy to make some for us and they arrived quickly.
We had lunch in the Brassey Bar in the hotel, which, again seemed rather over-priced.
Heythrop Park is a beautiful hotel with stunning grounds and a great base for exploring Oxford and the Cotswolds. However, my overwhelming feeling is one of slight disappointment. I felt that a luxury hotel should have provided better service – we should have had the bedrooms we had been promised and food shouldn’t have been forgotten at dinner.