Heythrop Park styles itself as a conference venue, hotel, golf and country club, set in rolling hills on the edge of the Cotswolds, 15 miles north west of Oxford.
The splendid neo-classical house, built by Charles Talbot, the 12th Earl of Shrewsbury dates, from the early 18th Century. The House was leased to the Duke of Beaufort in 1820, but after the First World War was used for various institutional uses, including a Jesuit Seminary and a Bank training centre.
The facilities comprise the house, two traditionally-styled wings and a series of more modern extensions which include a small health centre (with a decent-sized swimming pool) and a full-size lecture theatre. The complex has a wide range of rooms suitable for conferences. There are also formal sports pitches and (of course) the golf course. There are some formal gardens, but most of the very extensive grounds are laid out as parkland.
The original house is still splendid, with a magnificent full-height hall and a splendid formal staircase (although the glass roof is a rather unsympathetic modern replacement). It's a popular venue for weddings, as well as conferences and group bookings (I went there as part of a large group, to find two weddings and large Saga tour sharing the facilities as well!) Access is via the small village of Enstone, along the longest drive I have even seen (over two miles). Car parking is plentiful although some of it is a short walk from the main block.
There are 284 bedrooms, of wildly varying standard. The 14 in the main building are large and luxurious, in the best Country House style. Those in the modern wings are functional but comfortable, resembling an Ibis or Travelodge. In contrast, the Shrewsbury wing has an institutional feel: long wide corridors give on to rooms which, although en-suite, are rather spartan and in serious need of updating (you don't even get a clock-radio, let alone internet access). That said, the hotel offers some cheap accommodation and meal packages, so you get what you pay for.
The catering (breakfast and dinner) we experienced was decent enough again fairly typical for a conference centre - although the bar staff were not very efficient. Bar prices are seriously eye-watering - £3.30 for a bottled beer, and over £7 for a glass of rosé wine (share a bottle instead from £15). Reception staff were pleasant and helpful, but with only one credit-card machine operating, we had a 20-minute queue to check out.
Overall, your experience will depend on which accommodation you stay in, and how busy they are. As conference venues go, it's not top-notch, but in fairness neither are its prices (except that bar). Sharper management and some modernisation would earn it another star.
Booked a room at a discount price for a last minute get-away. in April 09. From the website it looked fantastic but unfortunately the room was not up to even the most basic of standards. The corridors to our room should have given it away with the flickering lighting and drab 'hospital' decor The 'double' room we were provided with was cramped, with a 4ft double bed draped in faded and worn covers. The desk you could not sit at as the bed was in the way. The tv could only pick up the terrestrial 4.5 channels and the remote was sticky and didnt work. The kettle was inside a small cupboard and could not be taken out to make a cuppa which was probably for the best as the cups and teaspoons provided were dirty. The bathroom was clean but had no bath, only a shower cubicle that had seen better days and there were no toiletries apart from a shower cap. there was also no trouser press or telephone as it says on their website.
The hotel itself was set in beautiful grounds which were lovely to stroll around in the sunshine.
Although we were obviously staying in the cheaper part of the hotel (Archer Wing), I would have expected a basic level of comfort which I believe was not met. Would be happy to go back if it were refurbished. Glad we did not pay the full £119!
Don' t bother, save your money and send it to people who care about your stay. Had what can be described as an awful time during my stay here. Horrible - staff with attitude, dank horrid room, noise, average food but expensive.
In short you can get more for your money elsewhere.
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