Shafts of early morning sunlight filtered through the trees as I stood by the lake watching the ducks toing and froing playfully into the water. This unyielding bucolic loveliness ran to the sound track of bird song. Just the place you want to linger and engage in a little quiet contemplation.
I felt as if I were in the middle of the countryside miles from anywhere but I was actually in Wimbledon near the Common and not far from central London. After spending the night at the boutique hotel Cannizaro House, I decided to explore the lovely Cannizaro Park in which it is set.
|Ducks toing and froing playfully into the water|
It was not hard to imagine the likes of Oscar Wilde and Lord Tennyson having been house guests. Perhaps the picture-perfect environment helped their creative juices? It certainly is a stunning place to escape the frenetic pace of city life or slip off for a romantic break.
Like a lot of old country houses that have had a colourful past littered with scandal, Cannizaro House is quintessentially English and makes for an alluring place to stay There is something in the air that promises a glance into a bygone world although there is a lacing of modern sophistication.
My spacious room with a four -poster bed and crisp white sheets had a sense of retro glamour about it although the bathroom was modern albeit the tarnished soap tray in the shower needed replacing.
There were some lovely little touches such as a selection of magazines and complimentary sherry and delicious biscuits to enjoy while reading them.
I did not want to get too comfy because I wanted to have a pre-dinner drink in the Orangerie. This conservatory with floor-to-ceiling windows has been cleverly designed to add a modern twist to the hotel and always seems to be buzzing whether it is with housewives coming in for morning coffee or business people having meetings and lunch.
Decorated in fancy patterned wallpaper, the restaurant which boasts two AA Rosettes is an elegant room that immediately transports you back into another era. Not quite Downton Abbey, but you get my drift. It has won awards for its cuisine so I expected the food to be impressive and I was not disappointed.
The scallops that I chose to start were done to perfection and presented beautifully. From the mains I opted for the Cornish bass served with artichoke and clotted cream mash which was superb. Not normally a dessert lover, the Pina Colada parfait with mango, coconut rum jelly and matcha was an exquisite melange of flavours that finished the meal to perfection.
There are also some good wines to choose. I went for a light red from Bordeaux which worked well with the fish. Somehow white doesn’t slip down easily for me on a cold winter’s night.
The level of service, however, did not match the food. My vegetables were brought at the end of the main course despite having asked for them a couple of times. But, when they did come, they were piping hot and rather good.
Breakfast – which really was scrumptious - came round all too quickly and it was time to take my leave.
Now part of the Hotel du Vin chain, it will be interesting to see how the group makes its mark on Cannizaro Park as, reportedly, it is to undergo a £1 million refurb. Yes, there are things that need changing and improving, but please don’t take away the charm.
By Daralyn Danns
Double rooms from £195 per night. A three-course meal in the restaurant is £45.For more information on Cannizaro Park visit www.cannizarohouse.com