A Luxurious Bristol Secret
Be it an intimate and luxurious dinner or a grand wedding, Berwick Lodge proves an elegant and rural backdrop within a stone’s throw from Bristol
Review by Marc Stickley
Those looking for a gateway to explore the South West, an idyllic getaway that’s close enough to civilisation to be connected, but far enough away to feel separated from the grind of the working week, or perhaps just the perfect venue for that special event – a wedding or anniversary perhaps – then look no further. Nestled just outside Bristol, within a few minutes of the M4 and M5 motorways, accessible by train from Bristol Parkway (15 minutes in a taxi) or from the airport (25 minutes), is Berwick Lodge – a luxury hotel and event venue that maximises on comfort and elegant indulgence, without pretensions of grandeur.
Built for a businessman in Victorian times (he started the work in 1890), the Lodge was originally a private residence, with magnificent gardens overlooking the Severn Estuary. On a clear day, you can gaze across the water to Wales. The lodge is currently surrounded by woodland, gardens and further afield, farmland, before you get back to the main road. To reach the lodge, you must drive up the long (at least a mile) private entrance road, passing nothing but a few farmhouses on the way. The transformation from the edges of busy Bristol to rural hideaway takes a few minutes – that driveway is not the smoothest and you should take the time to unwind along the way.
Arrive at the car park, leave your car and enter the Lodge’s foyer. Downstairs is the reception desk, a lounge and the restaurant area. Check in and head up to your room. There are 14 rooms and suites to choose from and all have views across the estuary (stunning), woodland, or gardens. They are comfortably appointed and have modern facilities inside. My room, which happened to be the bridal suite, had a wonderful full sized roll top bath, as well a separate walk in shower cubicle. The bedroom had a magnificent four poster bed, with a chaise longue at its foot, dressing cabinet and a lounge area – perfect for a bride and her maid of honour to prepare for the big day. From its corner outlook, through the bay windows you overlook the Lodge’s gardens, with water features, a tree swing and wild flower areas and across the treetops, the River Severn.
Moving downstairs for dinner, the Hattûsa restaurant has choices to satisfy any palate – the Head Chef is a Roux Scholar and there is definite attention to detail in the dishes served. You can choose from light bites up to full restaurant fayre and we plumped for three courses. Before the starters arrived, we were treated to an amuse bouche titled Chicken Caesar – they were delicious and reminiscent of a chicken pork scratching creation, but still with the Caesar tang. So, we started with a smoked mackerel dish and another with tuna, followed by lamb with seared lettuce and creamed potatoes (delicious) for one main and duck with red cabbage as the other. The starters were delicious and the mains…well the duck was amazing and the only slight snag I found with the lamb was that perhaps a fresh vegetable (not just a seared one) would have lifted the dish. For dessert, we opted for an apple dish – which was like a combination of crumble and sorbet, with delightful sour apple balls and for the other dessert, a chocolate pavé – served with a white chocolate tuile, raspberry sorbet and orbs of meringue to balance the dish. All very impressive and absolutely delicious. Too accompany your meal, there is an extensive wine list, with options from inexpensive to several hundred pounds – you can definitely find the perfect accompaniment to the fantastic food.
So, I retired back to the bridal suite from dinner a happy bunny – delicious food consumed and a luxuriously comfortable sleep ahead. The next day, coming down for breakfast was a relaxed affair – with the usual continental or cooked options. All kitchen produce aims to be from local providers and the South West has some corkers on offer. After breakfast we decided to get a closer look at the grounds and took a walk around the wild flower areas, the swing in the tree, water features and some prime wedding photography spots – the Head Gardener has made a real effort to entice nature to the Lodge, but with mown walkways between the different spaces, you can enjoy being close, but still refined. The outdoor areas would be ideal for a summer function and you can exclusively reserve the whole Lodge, if you need a bit more space. Talking of functions, the restaurant can cater for 80 or 90 seated for a wedding ceremony (in the function area across the entrance courtyard) before you would move to the main Lodge for the wedding breakfast – where 100 can be catered for.
In short, this hidden jewel would make an ideal getaway location for a quiet weekend’s escape, or perhaps a base for some South Western exploration. For grander events, Berwick Lodge can cope and accommodate in luxury and beautiful surroundings. As I drove away down that extensive drive, it felt like I was leaving behind a secret paradise – and I couldn’t help but plot which family event might give me an excuse to return. But maybe I’ll just have to spring for dinner on a date night… hmmm. I’ll be seeing you Berwick Lodge and I recommend you all try to make a stay yourselves.
Enquiries: Berwick Lodge, Berwick Dr, Bristol BS10 7TD / 01179 581590 / www.berwicklodge.co.uk/