Found in the postcard-pretty village of Clearwell, Tudor Farmhouse’s gently weathered brick façade, clad in climbing creepers, had us sold before we’d even crunched our way across the drive. With 20 farmhouse-luxe-style rooms, the hotel is made up of a handful of buildings – some of which date back to the 16th century – set around a leafy courtyard garden and surrounded by 14 acres of meadow.
A stroll to visit the hens and ducks, pat the ponies and admire the spoils of the kitchen garden is enough to make even the most stressed out city dwellers relax; a feeling that’s only enhanced by crackly log fires, lovely old beams and sink-into leather chairs when you get inside.
The food is refreshingly good too. Head chef Rob Cox has been behind the stoves at two AA Rosette Tudor Farmhouse for a year now. An appetiser of crispy glazed lamb breast with charred cucumber would make anyone smile with its moreish melting fat, sweet roasted leeks, caviar and caraway.
A dish of Cornish crab, Isle of Wight tomatoes and basil was clean, bright and fresh – both in looks and taste – while Cotswold pigeon was a masterclass in comfort food, served pink with peas à la française, bacon rosti, roasted onions, girolles and a rich Madeira sauce. It’s refined cooking which focuses on a few key ingredients that taste of themselves.
We stuck to three courses, but there’s also a reasonably priced six-course tasting menu with accompanying wine flight should the mood take you. Either way, try the local Tintern Parva Bacchus, a clean white wine with gooseberry edge.
The beauty of a restaurant with rooms is that you only have to wend your way up two original Tudor staircases to roll into bed. The Roost – at the top of the oldest part of the farmhouse and pecking order – is one of three spacious suites which features everything from a roll-top bath to monsoon shower and beautiful old beams in the seating area.
There are thoughtful touches such as artisan china cups, homemade biscuits and Cotteswold Dairy milk to go with your Nespresso. And with a ‘your stay, your way’ policy, there’ll be no raised eyebrows should you wish to eat cheese, dessert or breakfast in your supremely comfy bed.
We chose to explore the breakfast buffet with its six types of Ragmans Lane Farm apple juice and array of pastries, fruit and yoghurt and settled on softly-scrambled local eggs and Severn & Wye smoked salmon on buttered crumpets in the conservatory. It’s not hard to relax at the family-run Tudor Farmhouse, the only downside is that you won’t want to leave.
When in the area, don’t miss the nearby Parva Farm Vineyard (parvafarm.com), where the rolling Welsh hills could be mistaken for Tuscany on a sunny day. Make sure you walk to the top to make the most of the views across the valley before stopping in at the shop for a tasting of its spicy Welsh mead and award-winning wines.
Room rates at Tudor Farmhouse range from £100-£230 per night based on two people sharing (tudorfarmhousehotel.co.uk).
Written by Kate Authers, October 2016
Tudor Farm House
Royal Forest of Dean