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Tylney Hall, Hampshire

Clifford Mould wallowed in luxury, on your behalf!

Tylney Hall
Rotherwick, Hook,
United Kingdom,
RG27 9AZ

Telephone: +44 (0)1256 764881
Fax: +44 (0)1256 768141

Fancy living life like at Gosford Park? You can, it's called Tylney Hall, and it's near Basingstoke in Hampshire. This isn't an ordinary country house hotel, it's a stately home; indeed it was privately owned by various peers of the realm until 1948 when it became a school. After extensive refurbishment it reopened as an hotel in the mid-eighties, and the work of restoration continues as an ongoing labour of love. Keen gardeners will be fascinated by the development of the gardens over the previous century, but you don't have to be an expert to appreciate the grand vistas, the water gardens and the follies and pavilions that add grace to what nature had already provided in abundance.

We arrived in a rain storm and a porter with a very large brolly appeared at the car door before we had time to think about making a dash for it. Then we sat in front of an open fire in the Great Hall, looking up and admiring a magnificent ceiling that was imported, rather like the Elgin Marbles from the Palazzo Grimatione in Florence. If you like panelled walls, this is the place for you! But there's nothing dreary or old fashioned about it. Before dinner we were shown round all the state rooms (it's a wonderful place for weddings or private parties), including the health centre with its indoor pool. In summer the outdoor pool set in a renaissance style garden must be a tempting place to chill out.

The restaurant is very beautiful without being too overpowering. There are set menus ranging from good value three course lunches for £23.00 including Coffee service and VAT (the Sunday version for a mere £2 more look ed very attractive). At dinner there's a three course table d'hote for £35.00 inclusive, which featured dishes such as a duck and foie gras terrine followed by medallions of beef pan-fried with a peppercorn crust and a whiskey cream sauce.  The a la carte menu has starters in the range £8.75 for a mille feuille of char grilled vegetables, to £14.75 for lobster salad, although you could splash out £36.50 for 30g of Sevruga Caviar with smoked salmon. Mains are priced around the £24 mark, except for vegetarian dishes around £17.00 or dover sole £32.50, or Chateaubriand at £62.00 for two people. 

We went for the a la carte which as you can see is fairly pricey and offered a mixed bag of styles, some dishes came off better than others. I'm not sure if my langoustines (£11.50) were supposed to have been served hot or cold, as my partner's fish soup (£9.25)  took a while longer to arrive. When it came it was well worth waiting for and had all the trimmings. We had a very disappointing fish soup at a harbour side restaurant in Collioure in the South of France last month - the chef ought to go to Tylney Hall to find out how it's done!

Duck breasts were nicely done with a good red onion tatin (£24.50). The Curacao sauce sounded a good idea, but when liqueurs are added to reduced sauces the end result can be rather too sweet. The fillet of Angus beef (£26.00) was excellent - I particularly liked an accompanying rillette made from braised oxtail that had been teased apart and bound together with some mash and a hint of garlic - a bold and innovative touch. There are no hidden extras and a selection of hotel vegetables was offered.

The desserts (£7.50) were fine, and if we hadn't a longish journey home and on such a foul night, we would've tried the banana tart tatin with a rum and raisin sorbet, or the delicious sounding ginger and lime soufflé with a mulled wine sorbet. Both these puddings are done to order and therefore require additional preparation time. 

After such undivided attention from the reception staff, the service in the restaurant was a bit disappointing. The waiting staff were charm itself, but that night co-ordination was lacking and too many things were delayed or forgotten. In spite of this, our visit was most enjoyable and I would dearly love to be able to spend a few days at Tylney Hall, perhaps in the summer, enjoying the gardens, the peace and quiet, punctuated only by some accomplished cooking.

Staying at the hotel: 

Double rooms per night inclusive of English or Continental breakfast, newspaper, service and VAT range from £159.00 Deluxe bedroom, to £210 for an executive bedroom. Suites range in price from £270 to £410 for the Duke and Duchess suites.

Short breaks: A minimum two night stay for two, including room, table d'hote dinner and full English breakfast starts from £210 per night.

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