Nestled in the middle of nowhere lies one of the most stunning hotels you'll see for miles around.
Mercure Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel & Spa, way off the beaten track, is a grand and imposing old building, yet serenity fills the air around it.
Old meets new and luxury combines with relaxation in this glorious rural location, deep in the Warwickshire countryside.
I got married at Walton Hall seven years ago on a sunny April Fools Day, then under the ownership of Puma Hotels.
I fell in love with the place the minute we drove through the main iron gates and over the bridge and I knew had to get married there.
So we did. Surrounded by 150 of our nearest and dearest. And it was the best day ever.
When I heard the spa at Walton Hall had won an industry award and we were invited to test it out, I was keen to see what has changed at Walton Hall over the years and now under new ownership.
Eight years on from the day we said 'I do', we have added a toddler into the mix so what with a house move last year, full-time jobs and an energetic bundle of joy, it's fair to say life can get a little hectic at times.
So our little overnight trip to Walton was the perfect excuse for us to get away for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Walton Hall's location is unique. It has great nearby road networks and easy access to nearby Stratford upon Avon and Warwick, yet it feels a million miles from anywhere.
There are several routes to the hotel which can be confusing if you don’t know the area but our preferred route is along the Fosse Way so you look down onto hall from the road before turning off and coming down the sweeping driveway to the front of the main hall.
It’s such a happy place for us with so many magical memories so it felt great to be back. Seeing another bride getting married there that day brought back lots of memories for us.
The hotel is split into two - which, again could be confusing if you didn’t know the setup.
There is now one main reception in the modern part of the building where the main restaurant and bar is also located. Therefore this has become the main hub of the site.
It appears the once bustling 16th century Grade II listed hall is now just used for its vast array of rooms, weddings and events.
Check in was smooth, efficient and friendly. We made our way back over to the hall where our room was located.
I’d advise parking near reception and leaving the luggage until you know which part of the complex you’re staying in to avoid walking far with heavy bags.
We were given a beautiful king size room at the front of the hall overlooking the driveway and the River Dene.
Huge floor to ceiling windows dominated the room and the equally big bed was super comfy.
Robes and slippers gave it that extra luxurious feel.
The spa is just a short walk from the hall and features a pool, gym, sauna and beauty rooms. It’s very clean, modern and most important of all, relaxing.
My husband was treated to a back massage while I had my nails done.
The therapists were extremely friendly and chatty and we both came away feeling really relaxed which was a great way to kick off our stay.
I was also really impressed with the length of time my nail polish stayed on so top marks from me.
We were booked into the on-site Oranges and Lemons brasserie for dinner that evening and it was nice having the short stroll between the hall where our room was to the restaurant.
We enjoyed pre-drinks in the bar before being shown to our table.
The bar and dining room area is full of atmosphere and not really an intimate dinner for two experience but for many people this would be a good thing.
You can relax without fear that people on the next table can hear your every word.
On the menu that night, included in the overnight package, was soup of the day, salt and pepper squid, tomato and mozzarella salad, chicken liver parfait and chicken bacon terrine to start.
Mains included beef blade, pork steak, chicken, cod and risotto.
If you have room for puds (we always try!) there was crumble, lemon tart, cheesecake and poached pear.
Luckily for us, the bar was open over in the hall due to the wedding being on so we decided to enjoy after dinner drinks by the fire.
It was great to hear some life brought back into the hall from the wedding party.
The buffet breakfast the next morning didn't disappoint. There was cereal, toast, meats, cheeses, muffins, fruit, full English, you name it they had it.
Try and squeeze in a walk around the grounds of Walton Hall if you can. Not only does it help walk off the massive breakfast, but the fresh air, views and scenery are also stunning.
We saw families on bikes and an elderly gentleman enjoying a little walk. You get the sense that the locals enjoy the parkland around the hotel as much as the guests.
Walton Hall was magnificent as ever and we felt hugely rejuvenated on our return to everyday life.
I would like to see a more fine dining experience brought back into the hall but having said that, Mercure offer a brilliant range of package deals including many different room types to suit most budgets and has clearly chosen the mass market as the way forward.
It's an amazing local bolthole which will always hold a special place in our hearts and I'm sure many other people for years to come.