I’ve just been up to Worcestershire to see my daughter and new grandson. It’s quite a long journey from London – minimum 2½ hour drive each way – so I prefer to stay the night. However, as Nicola & Rachael’s house is deep in renovation and there’s no room for me to sleep in at the moment, not even a dust-free sofa, I decided to find somewhere nearby to stay. Nicola suggested The Manor Arms and as we had a great meal there last year, it was an attractive choice.
The Manor Arms is in Abberley, a beautiful village deep in rural Worcestershire. There’s been a village there since the 11th century and the parish of Abberley is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. The Manor Arms dates back to the 17th century and was first owned by the Lord of the Manor. It was smaller then and had its own brew house and, typically of pubs at the time, was a central meeting place for locals. It’s undergone major renovation in recent years and is now privately owned. Here are some photos I took this morning of the countryside surrounding the pub.
I drove up to my daughter’s early yesterday morning. In the afternoon we headed over to Abberley – a 17-minute drive according to Google Maps – so that I could check in. With a 7-week-old baby in the family, we weren’t planning on having supper there again, but I wanted to get settled in before arriving for the night much later in the evening.
There are just 6 en-suite bedrooms. We were shown up to the room, via a large and cosy landing with sofas and bookshelves.
I had the smallest room and it was in the eaves at the top of the building, but very comfortable.
There was a small shower room (larger rooms have baths). The shower room had Noble Isle luxury toiletries. This was a nice touch as they were really lovely and so often, even in big hotels, you find indifferent, hotel-label shower gels, etc. I was pleased to see a kettle provided with a great selection of good quality teas. There was also a small cafetière with packs of ground coffee. I thought this was great. (There was supposed to be some homemade biscuits but they hadn’t refilled the jar – another time I’d ask them to fill it but I didn’t notice straight away). The young woman who showed me to the room said there was long-life milk there but if I wanted fresh, just ask, and they’d bring some up, which was thoughtful service.
After I’d sorted my things out, Nicola and I (and baby) headed downstairs and I suggested we ask to have some tea before we headed back to Nicola’s house. The bar area was empty and all was quiet but there was no problem getting some tea brought to us. We found a cosy corner to sit in by the Inglenook fireplace and it was lovely to relax there and chat for a while.
That night I returned about 10.00pm. I hadn’t really drunk with supper because of the drive to The Manor Arms so I decided to get a glass of wine down in the bar and settled into the same comfortable chair to enjoy it. It was busier now but I was quite happy, even on my own, in the bar. Not all bars are comfortable places for a woman on her own late evening but this was just as cosy and welcoming as it had been earlier in the day.
My room rate (£80 per night) included breakfast. Breakfast is served 7.30-9.30am Mon-Fri and 8.00-9.30am Sat and Sun. Nicola suggested she and baby come over and join me for breakfast. The breakfast room – which is sometimes used as a private dining room for events like weddings – opens out on to a terrace with glorious views.
Breakfast was OK but slightly sloppy and fairly minimal. The ‘buffet’ was just a couple of loaves – no pastries or cakes – some juices and a couple of cereals (containers almost empty). There were pats of English butter and little jars of Tiptree jam (only Strawberry) or honey.
There were some nice bio-yoghurts in little pots with a choice of fruit compote at the bottom, and a choice of 4 things for cooked breakfast: The Full English; Scrambled Egg and Smoked Salmon; Spinach & Mushroom Omelette; and Kippers with Parsley Butter.
I never usually eat anything cooked for breakfast but decided to have the scrambled egg and smoked salmon (a Full English – many people’s delight, I know – would be many steps too far for me). There was a generous amount of smoked salmon but the egg was overcooked. Once it came, I had to get up and go over to the buffet table to toast bread and it would have been better if they’d brought toast with it. The coffee was very good and served in a large and generous cafetière; I did have to ask for milk, though. For the tea drinker there was a large selection of good teas.
The breakfast was, to be honest, disappointing, especially as the evening meal I had there a year ago was so splendid. It was a bit of a pattern – some really thoughtful touches, like the top quality tea in the room and nice toiletries but then just a few sloppy things. But I still liked The Manor Arms – the service was so friendly, and the atmosphere so cosy, it compensated a lot for the slight annoyances; everyone I encountered was very helpful and greeted me with a big smile, so I felt very welcomed. Not surprisingly, given the excellent restaurant and fabulous location, it gets very booked up and when I tried to book a room for 3 weeks’ time, it was already full. So … if you fancy a weekend in beautiful rural Worcestershire and some good food and a room in a nice pub … book well in advance! (Click here for The Manor Arms website.)