Michelle Chenery reports on a stay at Hogarths Hotel and Restaurant, SolihullA stay at Hogarths Hotel proved to me that if you prefer a venue that avoids the prices, the bustle and the hassle of a big city, you can still find high quality food, facilities and service.
Located near Solihull in 30 acres (12 hectares) of landscaped gardens and unspoilt woodland, it's hard to believe that Hogarths is only a few miles from the centre of Birmingham, the NEC and the LG Arena and literally a 5-minute drive from junction 4 of the M42.
Driving up to the main entrance you may well encounter the odd horse or two, as the Solihull Riding Club is on the estate. Hogarths is definitely an environment in which to switch off and unwind from the rest of the world – ideal for brainstorming and team-building.
The property has 49 rooms and two suites, in a choice of eight categories. The Standard rooms are of a high standard, with king-size beds, tea and coffee facilities, flat screen tv, freeview channels, free Wi-Fi and L'Occitane toiletries. Superior rooms offer even more, with underfloor heating in the bathroom, drench shower and bath, mp3 connection and super-king-size beds. Then, up from there, the Executive rooms feature garden views with direct access to the patio, 32-in HD TV and bathrobes and slippers.
All visitors to Hogarths must be impressed by the f&b. There is a choice of two restaurants, where a team of chefs work alongside Culinary Director, Martin Blunos, who has been the holder of two Michelin Stars for over fifteen years.
After frustrating traffic delays on a Friday afternoon, everything was put right by my late afternoon tea at Bar 8 Brasserie. There were still rays of sunshine on the terrace, highlighting the view over the grounds. Offered traditional tea, cocktail or sparkling, I enjoyed a pot of Fairtrade Clipper English tea. It was accompanied by a tray of goodies, including roast beef and horseradish bagels, cheese and pickle rolls, ham sandwiches as well as scones with Cornish clotted cream and Tiptree jam. There were mini desserts of lemon curd and chocolate tarts, banana or coffee cake.
An evening meal in the Brasserie was accompanied with live piano music renditions of numerous chart toppers. The whole cuisine is prepared and served with a difference. A burger was cooked on an Inka, a charcoal oven and grill, producing stunning flavours and achieving tenderness through high temperatures from flameless charcoal. Triple-cooked chips were crunchy on the outside and fluffy inside. My dessert choice was crème brûlée with homemade shortbread biscuits that melted in the mouth.
Hogarths boasts a possible eight air-conditioned event spaces, all with natural daylight. Privacy is assured, as they are set apart within the hotel. They can host a reception for up to 300 guests.
There are private terraces and a dedicated delegate entrance, with its own car park and bar. State of the art technology and facilities can be found in each room, including multi-media projectors and drop down screens and high speed wireless internet connections.
In addition, there is a summerhouse on its own moated island. Dating from1904, it has a wooden balcony with superb views.
Outside team building activities can take place on the 30 acres of grounds, where Hogarths has hosted a Hawaiian BBQ, Sumo Football and a company-themed Haka. Also available are pistol shooting, archery, wacky races, treasure hunts, cyber tag and inflatable assault courses, to name but a few of the activities.
Indoors, groups can enjoy quiz nights, a night at the races, wine tasting, Olympics and pub games.