Take a look around Studley Castle, a luxurious adults-only hotel in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside.
I love travelling with my sons, especially now that they are teenagers. But equally, I love going away without them for an adults-only holiday. It’s nice to have some time just for Mark and me to share.
So when Warner Leisure Hotels invited me to review their new flagship hotel at Studley Castle in Warwickshire, I jumped at the chance of a luxurious weekend without the kids.
Mark and I travelled to the picturesque Warwickshire countryside to visit this stunning hotel for the weekend. We found that it’s a perfect mix of relaxation and indulgence, but with plenty to keep us occupied as well.
Warner Leisure Hotels
Warner Leisure Hotels are specialists in providing UK breaks that are just for the grown ups. They offer adult-only breaks in their 14 beautiful Grade I and II listed properties, all located in picturesque settings.
Each property is packed full of history, and rather than having a uniform appearance, each of the Warner Leisure properties has its own character. They invest heavily in the redevelopment of their hotels, celebrating each one’s quirks and history.
You might sleep in a historic suite overlooking manicured lawns, or wake up in a balconied chalet. And the six coastal properties are packed full of seaside tradition!
The Grade II* listed Studley Castle is the most recent addition to the Warner Leisure Hotels portfolio. It re-opened recently after a three year, £50 million renovation.
The History of Studley Castle
Studley Castle may look as if it dates back to Tudor times, but it’s actually a lot more modern than that.
It was designed as a family home at the request of Francis Lyttleton Holyoake, High Sheriff of Warwickshire. The budget was £120,000 – that equates to a massive £14.5 million at today’s prices!
The design was created by the renowned architect Samuel Beazley, who specialised in theatre design. He lavished Studley Castle with Gothic Revival architecture, and the build was completed in 1834.
The 20th Century first saw Studley Castle used as an agricultural women’s college. Then during the two World Wars it served as a training camp for the Women’s Land Army. Then in 2006, it was converted to a country hotel.
When the hotel closed in 2016, the property was bought by Warner Leisure Hotels. The years had not been not kind to Studley Castle, and the building was showing the inevitable signs of age. They began an ambitious renovation programme to restore the original building to its former glory, as well as making some stunning modern additions to the site.
How to get to Studley Castle
Studley Castle lies about six miles from the town of Redditch in Warwickshire. And if you’re travelling by car, the hotel is easily accessed from either the M5, M40 or M42.
The last part of your drive will be through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside. This only helps to get your relaxing weekend off to the best possible start!
If you’re travelling by train, Redditch railway station is just a short taxi ride from the hotel. The station is on the Cross City line running from Birmingham New Street, so it’s easy to access from all around the UK.
Arriving at Studley Castle
Whether you’re driving your own car or travelling by taxi, you can’t help but feel impressed as you arrive at Studley Castle.
You pull through the imposing gates and proceed down a long graceful driveway towards the hotel. The drive is lined with tall Wellingtonia trees, which really gives the impression that you are stepping back in time to the days of Downton Abbey.
A member of staff greets you before you reach the hotel itself. They will let you know your hotel room number and where you can park your car.
Then at the hotel entrance itself, your cases are whisked away to your room, and you simply have to park your car. It’s an elegant greeting to a very elegant hotel.
The hotel has been completely refurbished and redecorated. They’ve added a whimsical ‘Alice In Wonderland’ feeling to the building, with lots of quirky features.
But the building’s original features have also been carefully restored and brought back to their former glory.
Take time during your visit to look around and spot these features, you’ll be amazed!
A relaxing Studley Room
Studley Castle is set in 28 acres of grounds, and has four different types of room. Mark and I had been allocated a Studley room for the weekend.
After checking in at Reception, we headed to our room where our luggage was already waiting for us.
The spacious room was decorated in cool neutrals, with a pop of colour on one feature wall. Ceiling-to-floor windows and a large mirror helped to make it feel very light and airy.
Our room had a huge king-sized bed, which could be split into twin beds if you wish. Each of the beds would make a very generous single bed, and the mattresses were incredibly comfortable.
High quality bed linen and plump pillows made sure that I slept incredibly well during my stay at Studley Castle!
And I was pleased with the general standard of facilities in the room.
The decent-sized TV also offers information about the hotel facilities. And there are USB charging points as well as a standard plug socket by the bedside.
The hospitality tray held a selection of teas as well as in-cup filter coffee bags, and there were complimentary bottles of mineral water in the small fridge below.
Many of the rooms at Studley Castle have either a balcony or terrace. Our room was on the ground floor, and opened out onto a terrace overlooking the surrounding fields.
Back inside, we had a compact but well appointed bathroom, decorated in neutral tones with modern white furnishings. Our room had an over-bath shower, and plenty of fluffy towels.
Soft fluffy cotton robes were hanging in our wardrobe, which also contained a safe for keeping your valuables secure. And a selection of fantastic Temple Spa toiletries were provided to help make us feel truly pampered during our stay.
Altogether this was a seriously comfortable room that made us feel very welcome and relaxed. We were both looking forward to the weekend ahead of us!
Dining at Studley Castle
While you’re enjoying a luxurious weekend away, you’re sure to want to indulge in some delicious food. And with two restaurants to choose from, you’ll find plenty to tempt you when dining at Studley Castle.
The Evesham restaurant is the bustling venue for breakfast and dinner, where you can help yourself to an array of delicious options. And if you book a dinner, bed and breakfast package, you can reserve the same table for the duration of your stay.
Meanwhile the Arden Cafe and Restaurant is a coffee bar by day and transforms into a restaurant by night.
Your day starts in the Evesham restaurant at Studley Castle, with a wide array of choices for breakfast. Whether you’re looking for a light and healthy option or something a bit more decadent, it’s all here in the Market Kitchen.
If you prefer a cold breakfast, you can choose from a range of fresh fruits and yoghurts. There are also continental meats and cheeses on offer, or pick from a tempting selection of pastries.
For those of us who like to start our weekend mornings with a cooked breakfast, there’s masses to choose from.
The hot plates carry plenty of bacon, sausage and black pudding together with everything else you need to load up your plate with a Full English breakfast.
This was Mark’s start to the day, together with toast, fresh juice and plenty of tea or coffee. The sausages and bacon were satisfyingly meaty, and he was very happy with his selection.
I went for the veggie option on my first morning. The cooks were only too happy to rustle up some vegetarian sausages for me.
On the second day, I decided to try the omelette station, where you can choose from a number of ingredients to add to your eggs. I went for cheese and onion, and it was cooked perfectly.
Or for those with a sweet tooth, you can have freshly cooked pancakes. They’re made to order with a variety of tempting toppings.
Altogether, we were very happy with our delicious start to our Studley Castle day.
Mark spent the morning catching up on some work while I was photographing the hotel. I joined him for coffee later on, and then we had lunch together in the Arden lounge.
The menu includes a selection of sandwiches, sharing platters and light meals. And there are some very yummy looking cakes on offer.
Mark had a sandwich of tender butter-fried chicken, and my roasted red pepper, hummus and avocado roll was full of flavour. We also shared a cheeky portion of chips served with malt vinegar mayonnaise.
If you fancy a glass of something stronger, drinks can be brought over to you from the Evesham bar. I was pleased to see that Studley Castle also offers both a non-alcoholic lager and Seedlip alcohol-free spirits.
No, we didn’t try afternoon tea during our visit to Studley Castle, even though it was very tempting.
Tea is served in the stunning Oak Room, which has this amazing decorated ceiling and dramatic light fittings. You can choose from refined sweet or savoury afternoon teas all served on delicate china. Or if you prefer something a little lighter, perhaps just a cream tea or tea and cake.
And of course, bubbles are a decadent additional option!
You can also take tea in the Garden Room, which was still receiving the finishing touches to its restoration when we visited.
And the Hideaway completes this trio of rooms that are perfect for quiet relaxation. It looks out over the countryside outside Studley Castle, and has a selection of board games to keep you entertained.
At the end of a busy day, the Evesham restaurant is a fun place to unwind and recharge.
It’s one of the finest cabaret restaurants to be found in any UK hotel, and easily seats more than the total number of guests at Studley Castle.
This means that it never feels cramped or crowded, even when the hotel is at maximum capacity. And there’s plenty of choice for you to pick your perfect location to watch the evening’s entertainment.
Live music plays softly throughout the early part of the evening, as a warm up to the entertainment that takes you into the late hours. More about that later…
As with breakfast, most of the food is available for you to serve yourself. You first order your drinks, and choose starters from the selection on the menu.
On our first evening Mark chose the venison, wild mushroom and chestnut mini pie. It was served with celeriac puree and a red wine jus, and Mark said the dish was very flavoursome.
My Rarebit topped Portobello mushroom was also packed full of rich flavour. And the freshness of the herb oil dressed rocket was a lovely contrast.
Other starters on the menu when we visited included a smoked salmon, crab and cream cheese parfait, and salt and pepper squid rings served with watercress.
Once you’ve finished your first course, you can then explore the delicious dishes on offer in the Market Kitchen.
Each night there’s a selection of roast meats available from the Butcher’s Block, while the British Deli carries a wide selection of delicious salads.
The Chef’s Dish of the Day has a different international flavour each day, such as French or Italian. You can watch these dishes being prepared in the theatre-style kitchen.
Mark really enjoyed his chicken Korma on the first night, which came with a range of accompaniments.
A selection of fish dishes are also available, and my sea bream was cooked to order in front of me. It was perfectly tender and the skin was beautifully crisp.
I love the fact that you can mix and match elements from different sections of the Market Kitchen. On the second night, I picked a light vegetarian Mediterranean filo roll. But I couldn’t resist adding the creamy mashed potato topped with melted Brie from the Dish of the Day section.
There’s so much variety on offer, that you certainly won’t be bored with meals during a stay at Studley Castle!
And of course, you’ll want to finish off your meal with a delicious pudding. There’s a fantastic fresh ice-cream stand, and a range of chilled desserts and fruit.
Or you can choose from the day’s hot puddings topped with lashings of custard, like Mark did!
Or if you don’t have so much of a sweet tooth, you can choose from the cheeses on offer.
And if you’re visiting Studley Castle for a special occasion, then they have a very special option for dining.
This private dining room seats up to 10 people, and you can hire it for the evening for a celebratory meal. It’s decorated in the same whimsical style as the rest of the hotel, but with a little extra luxury.
You’ll also have your own private waiter or waitress for the evening. It’s the perfect way to celebrate a special evening at Studley Castle!
A Relaxing Break at Studley Castle
A break at a Warner Leisure Hotel offers lots to do, and lots of ways to do nothing.
When we visited Studley Castle, Mark and I were both looking forward to taking some time to relax. And in these gorgeous surroundings, it was very simple to unwind and take it easy for the weekend.
The Arden Cafe and Restaurant
The Arden Cafe is the perfect place to sit and relax during the day. It’s decorated in a beautifully whimsical fasion, and there are lots of cosy corners to hide away in.
The cafe serves coffee and cake from 10am onwards, and lunch is served from 12-4.30pm. So you can easily fit lunch in around any activities you have planned.
If you like to keep in touch with the weekend’s sporting fixtures, then you’ll be happy to see that the Arden Cafe shows Sky Sports.
But if you’re not a sports fan, then you’ll be glad that the sound is kept low and that there are plenty of places to avoid the sporting action!
The Stables Spa
Head to the Stables Spa for the ultimate in relaxation during your weekend at Studley Castle. It’s the perfect place to get completely away from all distractions and totally chill out.
The spa is situated in Studley Castle’s original stables, but has been given a thoroughly modern makeover.
The spa is a casual space with plenty of places to relax. You can choose from an extensive menu of treatments, sip a healthy drink, or just curl up in one of the comfy chairs and loungers.
Or if you’re feeling more active, there’s a gym and fitness studio with a range of classes to book
The Spa’s pool is open early if you fancy starting your day with a swim, and stays open late into the evening. There’s a steam room and sauna for relaxing in as well.
The Evesham Bar
The Evesham Bar is the perfect place for pre-dinner drinks, or to while away hours late into the evening.
There is a wide range of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks on offer, so you’re sure to find something that suits your taste.
In fact, their wine cellar is very extensive, and you can attend special wine tasting sessions during your stay at Studley Castle.
Or if gin is more your thing, you’ll love the gin tasting sessions. One of these was going on when we popped into the bar on Saturday afternoon, and it looked and sounded like great fun!
Things to Do at Studley Castle
If you’ve had enough of doing nothing, there’s plenty to keep you occupied at Studley Castle, from outdoor activities to live music and entertainment.
Studley Castle’s plush cinema is a great way to occupy a couple of hours, especially if the weather turns inclement.
They show a range of films including classics as well as the latest hits. And of course you can munch on some sweets and popcorn while you watch themovie.
There are usually three showings per day, but if the British weather stops play, extra showings may be added.
If you’re feeling more active, you could borrow one of the hotel’s Pashley bikes and take it for a spin around the grounds.
Or why not try your hand at rifle shooting, archery, laser clay pigeon shooting with the hotel’s friendly staff? Mark and I had a go at air rifle shooting during our visit to Studley Castle. It was my first time, and I really enjoyed it!
And all of these activities are included in the cost of your Warner Leisure Hotels break. So you can do as much or as little as you like without worrying about the cost.
Live Music and Entertainment
Warner Leisure Hotels pride themselves on the fabulous entertainment that they offer, and Studley Castle is no exception.
Every evening there is live music in the Evesham Restaurant from early evening onwards. After dinner, the lights dim and the dance floor is open, with music continuing in the Evesham Bar through to late.
Studley Castle hosts many well known names throughout the year, and our visit to the hotel coincided with the annual Warnerfest event.
Our Saturday night entertainment was hosted by Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley, who introduced three fabulous unsigned acts to start off the evening’s show.
Gareth Esson kicked off the evening, entertaining us with his fabulous songs. He even got us all singing along with him.
He was followed on stage by female vocalist Sophie Anne, who had a fantastically powerful voice.
But my favourite act was Lisa Canny. She entertained us with an intriguing solo performance on the harp, using a loop pedal to create layers of sound.
And then the rest of her band joined her on stage for a rousing performance that had us all clapping and cheering!
Jo Whiley rounded off the evening with a stint on the decks, playing crowd pleasers from the 1970s onwards. The dance floor was soon full, even if I couldn’t convince Mark to get up and dance!
You might not be able to visit during WarnerFest, but there are lots of fantastic acts lined up for the rest of the year at Studley Castle.
Places to Visit near Studley Castle
As well as being a wonderful place to relax, Studley Castle is also a great base for exploring the local area.
The hotel’s welcome desk can provide you with suggested routes if you’d like to go out for a walk. And there are some great options for days out if you’d like to go a little further afield.
Stratford upon Avon
The beautiful town of Stratford-upon-Avon is world famous for its association with William Shakespeare. You’ll be able to visit the house where he was born, as well as seeing where he was buried. And of course, you can visit one of the town’s theatres to watch a performance of one of his many plays.
Apart from that, the town is fascinating to visit for its beautiful architecture and the River Avon. Parking can be a bit tricky, but luckily, Studley Castle operate a daily transport service to and from the town.
You can’t beat the Cotswolds for picture perfect villages full of chocolate box cottages. And when you’re staying at Studley Castle, you’re within a short drive of villages like Bourton-on-the-Water and Broadway.
Don’t forget to call into a tea room while you’re exploring, and indulge in a cream tea.
And for an exciting day out, why not visit Warwick Castle. Its mix of drama and history will keep you entertained throughout the day.
You can explore the castle, watch falconry displays and even see a jousting battle!
A Weekend at Studley Castle: My Review
Mark and I thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing break at Studley Castle. The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful, and the restoration has been carried out very sympathetically.
I loved the quirky decor, there are so many little details to spot throughout your visit. And our room was oh-so comfortable, I slept incredibly well in that gorgeous bed.
There’s plenty to do at Studley Castle, but equally, you could easily spend a weekend just relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet. There’s plenty of good food and drink to indulge in, and did I mention that there’s no kids…?
Our visit was complimentary, but a 2 night weekend stay at Studley Castle costs around £259 per person on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis. You can see full booking details on the Warner Leisure Hotels website.
This was my first Warner Leisure Hotels break, but Mark and I enjoyed ourselves so much, I’m very sure that it won’t be our last!
Hardwick Lane, Studley, Nr Stratford-upon-Avon, B80 7AJ