Stapleford Park is a one-of-a-kind venue in Leicestershire


Roger St Pierre gives a flavour of its many attractions

Stapleford Park is a Grade I listed gem of a country house hotel. Located in Stapleford near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, it has an interesting and unusual history. Bob Payton, an American who tragically died in a car accident in 1994, was an entrepreneur who launched the Chicago Pizza Factory and Rib Shack eateries in London.
He was a confirmed Anglophile with pretensions of living the life of a country squire. So, in 1988 he and his wife Wendy acquired Stapleford Park and set about restoring a neglected historic property into one of the most prestigious country house hotels in England.

A masterly strategy as an entrepreneur was to persuade high-end brands to sponsor the design and decoration of various of the truly magnificent guestrooms. They included Wedgwood, MG, Crabtree & Evelyn, David Hicks, Laura Ashley and Turnbull & Asser.

Today the property resembles a grand 17thC French chateau in most of its architectural style, but in reality it dates back to the early days of 1066 and the occupation by the Normans. For some 484 years from 1402AD the original house was in the possession of the same family, descendants of the Duke of Lancaster.

Then, in 1894, ownership passed to the Bass brewing magnate Lord Gretton, who considerably extended the property to facilitate entertaining on the grand scale. Bob and Wendy raised this to ever-higher levels – a mission continued to this day by succeeding owners.

Stapleford Park now offers delightful gardens – both formal and naturally contoured; extensive woodlands; an-on-site 18-hole championship golf course; a large fishing lake; and a pampering Clarins Gold Spa in a magnificently converted Victorian stable block. There is even a miniature railway that wends its way around the grounds.

The accommodation comprises 55 individually designed luxurious guestrooms and suites. There are delightful lounges for groups to enjoy, with French windows to maximise the light and roaring log fires to ward off the chill. Wi-Fi is available free throughout.

Using locally sourced seasonal ingredients wherever possible, the main dining room features intricate wood carvings, said to be the work of the celebrated artist Grinling Gibbons while less formal restaurant options are provided at the Golf Pavilion, which was added in 2002, and The Old Kitchen, which boasts a vaulted Tudor ceiling.

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