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|Address:||Crescent Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2LY|
|Tel:||01892 526 455|
|Price: £32.00||Wine: £12.50||Champagne: £34.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-1.45pm 7-9.45pm|
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I had never stayed at a themed hotel before and as far as I was concerned, a brief stay at the Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells was not going to change that.
Clearly my French is not quite up to standard.
It wasn’t until I had walked past several rooms wondering what linked all the names inscribed above the door that we arrived at good old Rioja. It clicked.
The huge wine barrel next to the reception desk should have given it away to me or perhaps the comfortable Burgundy Bar which oozed class as the sound of live jazz echoed down the corridor.
Wine memorabilia and impressive artwork covered the walls of various lounges and drawing rooms in this grade two listed hotel that seemed to go on forever.
Our room was on the second floor of the converted manor house, overlooking the greenery of the Tunbridge Wells park.
But the view was last on the list of things to discuss as the incredible monsoon shower and rolling top bath dominated conversation between my guest and I.
There was no time to waste and in I jumped.
A quick blast of the in-house rainy season and a scrub in the tub, well you have got try both haven’t you, and we were ready to make our way down to the bistro.
You could be forgiven for thinking you were in a darkened Parisian restaurant as the old style wall lights enclosed diners in to the Hotel du Vin experience.
Although I am sure they could have provided it, I felt it necessary to foray into the world of wine rather than ask for my usual bottle of beer.
On being handed the menu and the wine list I went look down at the piece of paper in my hand only to realise this was in fact the food menu.
In my other hand was a leather bound encyclopaedia of countries, tastes and colours.
I was in well over my head.
Just as that thought crossed my mind, who should arrive but our very own wine expert.
Our Italian connoisseur asked for our particular tastes in wine and what flavours we enjoyed, before thumbing through ten countries and found us a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loir Valley in France. It was perfect as we knew it would be.
Like no wine I have ever tasted before, the honey running down your throat came in at bargain £23.95.
There were many more expensive wines for the more experienced grape drinkers but I will leave that to them.
I started with the ballotine of duck, spiced plum and croutons at a mere £6.95.
The portion amount was perfect and the taste was better as I learned ballotine was similar to a pate. About the main course I cannot speak highly enough.
Loch Duart salmon that only needed to the slightest encouragement make its way on to the fork. That was paired with lobster mash and samphire for a fabulous fishy delight at £15.95.
And as the Hotel du Vin chain claims of all its bistros, the food is cooked simply and priced sensibly. A statement that on my first experience, is completely true.
I rounded off a beautiful meal with a cool chocolate fondant with melted chocolate centre. Simply perfection on a plate.
As we were told in the brochure, the hotel is complete with 34 bedrooms featuring Egyptian linen clad beds that you could easily fit a small football team into. I will stick my neck out and say it is almost impossible to not sleep well in that.
A choice of continental or cooked breakfast awaited us in the morning with an outstanding amount of choice for both.
It is there, overlooking the terrace from your seat, where you may start to wonder whether or not it is absolutely necessary to discover the wonderful spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells today.
But that is only because you can always head back upstairs into your fluffy white bath robes and continue with your own personal spa instead.
Double rooms including a three course meal and breakfast start from £160. Other options are available for those that venture out to eat.