Tucked away in a quiet part of Berkshire's gloroius countryside, The Vineyard hotel is the ultimate in romantic getaways for wine enthusiasts (both experts and complete beginners). This stunning, 5 star Relais & Châteaux hotel boasts an amazing 30,000 bottles of wine in it's remarkable wine cellar, but while its wine credentials are second to none, there's a lot more to The Vineyard than first meets the eye. The moment you arrive at the luxurious hotel, you feel it's a special place - the ideal destination for a special birthday or a romantic weekend away.
The decor is modern yet classic, and the ambience seems to have that perfect mix of smart sophistication with a laid back vibe running through it. In fact the hotel's owner, Sir Peter Michael owns a winery in California and spent much of his life in the Golden State, an influence which is palpable the more time you spend in the hotel.
The hotel's windowed wine celler is a sight to behold
First impressions are always important and The Vineyard makes a great one. Moments from the check-in desk is the hotel's amazing wine cellar - one part of it housed in glass so you can not only see the bottles stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling in the underground cellar, you can also walk right across them (a somewhat scary mission the first time you try!).
The 32 suites and 17 bedrooms (all named after wines, of course!) are spacious and beautifully decorated. This is a spot for the ultimate romantic weekend away, but there are special touches for all guests, young and old. Children have their-sized robes and slippers to use for the duration, while adults are treated not only to expansive rooms (the deluxe suites are big enough to be a 1-bed-flat complete with roll top baths and walk in showers in the generous bathrooms), but to equisite linen, top notch toiletries and and home made biscuits for an afternoon snack.
The suites are spacious and well appointed
There's a glorious spa (with grape-inspired treatments galore) and a stunning circular swimming pool complete with massage jets and a jacuzzi. But while the hotel's amentieis stand out for their quality and style, it's the food and drink that really sets this hotel apart from the rest. Back in 1976 the Judegment of Paris occurred. This was a wine tasting that stunned the wine world at the time - where a host of respected wine officianoados were surprised (or rather flabbergasted) to discover their pick of favourite wines in a blind taste test were not, in fact, French, but hailed from the USA.
The circular pool is the epitome of stylish relaxation
This story is clearly adored by Sir Michael, who owns a Californian vineyard of his own, and who commissioned a painting of that fateful blind taste test, which takes pride of place just beyond the hotel's cellars. Guests wanting to enter into the spirit of the Judgement of Paris can eat a pairing menu for dinner where they too are challenged to a blind taste test! All of the hotel's pairing offerins are quite superb and the experience goes way beyond good food and drink; each declicious course is paired with a specific wine, selected by the sommelier and delivered at times in normal glasses, and at others in a black glass - the perfect receptacle for a blind test - you literally cannot see what you're drinking.
Experts will enjoy attempting to asnwer various questions from their sommelier, such as which regions their wines hail from. Amateurs can also play! Figuring out whether a wine in the black glass is red or white is harder than you might imagine. The fun is for all, and the menu so diverse that if you don't return to you room both full and a little tipsy, we'd be surprised!
At just over an hour from London, The Vineyard is a perfect short break destination - B&B is priced from £255 per room per night. They have a Taste of Vineyard break includes a seven coursed pairing dinner and is an experience to remember.