Park, Sutton Scotney, near Winchester
Finding a hotel that ticks all the boxes is not
always easy, so when Maggie Woods and her partner chose Winchester for a day
trip and needed the perfect overnight stay, they were delighted to find everything
they needed at QHotels Norton Park...
FIRST IMPRESSIONS DEFINITELY COUNT. Taking the winding drive towards Norton
Park we were reassured by the peaceful parkland setting, the large and accessible
car park and, on entering the foyer, the genuine welcoming smile of the smart,
professional and efficient receptionist.
We were immediately asked if there was anything we needed and were offered help
to take our luggage to our impressive room in the modern wing of the hotel,
being one of the spacious and classic QStar rooms with such extras as special
toiletries, a hospitality tray well-stocked with good quality tea and coffee,
cake and biscuits, and an extra-comfy mattress topper.
luxury bathroom beckoned after a long drive down from Kent in heavy traffic
a good test for the new Suzuki 'crossover' we were driving that week,
the SX4 S-Cross. So,
after a hot shower using the toiletries provided, we wrapped ourselves in the
thick fluffy towels to rest on the generously-sized and decidedly comfy bed
for a few hours before we needed to dress for an early dinner. Bliss.
the moment we
arrived we realised
too much trouble
for the pleasant staff
at Norton Park...
At the Scene Restaurant attention to detail is every bit as important as it
is in the bedrooms and the chefs provide a well-chosen, contemporary menu using
locally-sourced produce where possible. Attentive waiters ensured we were able
to quickly order our meal, with expert timing between each course.
I chose an unusual, delicious, melt-in-the-mouth goat's cheese panna cotta (with
beetroot, pecan and waldorf salad) to begin, which was such a good experience
that I savoured every mouthful. My partner chose a tasty vegetable soup that
was fresh and warming, and joined me in selecting the perfectly-cooked, tender
char grilled chicken breast (with spiced tomato fondue and rocket salad) as
our main meal, accompanied by a smooth and full Californian Merlot Mountain
To complete the meal, pudding was a gorgeous hazelnut chocolate pot with pistachio
crumbs and the lightest of shortbreads (for me) while my partner chose apple
and hedgerow berry tart with a crumble top. No complaints here and our excellent
meal left us totally satisfied.
The hotel is set in beautifully landscaped gardens with a lake upon which a
pair of swans glided past to be admired. The modern main part of the hotel hides
the 16th Century manor, where there are further rooms and romantics can
arrange to dine there.
With state-of-the art facilities for business meetings, seminars, conferences
or annual dinners in the main hotel, the manor or a 17th Century Tythe Barn,
Norton Park also has a wonderful spa where you can unwind in preparation for
exploring the area the following day or experience calming treatments after
a long day out.
breakfast the following morning, after a good night's sleep, we felt relaxed
and energised, starting the day with scrambled egg and mushrooms, fruit juice,
Earl Grey tea and jam and toast.
The choice is endless: a long list of breakfast cereals, full English breakfast
or a combination of items from the hot buffet, jam, marmalade and irresistible,
delicious light Danish pastries fresh-baked every morning.
After a brisk walk through the tranquil parkland past the manor house to the
lake, we set out to explore the immediate area close to the hotel.
Atmospheric Stonehenge is a half-hour drive away and the nearby ancient capital
of Winchester, once the seat of Anglo-Saxon and Norman power, less than twenty
minutes by car. The city is well worth a visit especially to experience
the majestic cathedral, that has seen fifteen centuries of history from its
roots in the 7th Century.
Among the many prominent people who are buried here are King Cnut, ruler of
England and Denmark in the 11th Century, and his wife Queen Emma and William
the Conqueror's son William Rufus. Beside the grave of author Jane Austen is
an illustrated exhibition of her life, work and death in Hampshire.
In vibrant colours that are still vivid today, an illustrated 12th Century Bible
is on display; the largest and arguably the finest of the surviving Bibles of
that period and you should not miss the fascinating stained glass tour. Some
of the cathedral's superb stained glass is several centuries old and the tour
costs £10, including tea and cake.
Park Hotel is well placed for a number of leisure activities, details of which
can be found just outside the restaurant. The coastal towns of Southampton and
Portsmouth with an historic dockyard housing the Victory and the Mary
Rose Museum are around thirty minutes and one hour away respectively.
From the moment we arrived we realised that nothing was too much trouble for
the pleasant staff at Norton Park. Not surprisingly, QHotels has earned many
awards including the top three accolades in the annual Venue Verdict Awards
for "consistently high service standards".
Park Hotel is perfect, whether you are looking for a weekend getaway, a romantic
break or a longer stay with or without the family; business meetings, or to
chill out and revitalise yourself in the comprehensive and modern Spa.
de-stressed, happy, well-fed and feeling as special as the hotel staff successfully
strive to achieve, we drove away. Consoling ourselves, we'll be back.
"Nothing was too much trouble for the pleasant staff at Norton Park… excellent
meal… we'll be back!" Maggie Woods
Norton Park Hotel, Sutton Scotney, near Winchester, SO21 3NB (01962 763 000)
Stonehenge, near Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE english-heritage.org.uk/Stonehenge
Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9LS winchester-cathedral.org.uk
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard historicdockyard.co.uk