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Crescent Road, Tunbridge Wells
, Tunbridge Wells,
Rate & Review
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Food & Drink:
Food & Drink: 4.0
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.
Food & Drink: 3.0
Dinner in the private dining room at Hotel Du Vin last Friday night turned out to be a very pleasant evening. The building itself is charming and the place felt very welcoming and cosy, just what you want on a wet and cold February night.
We began the evening with some English champagne courtesy of Chapel Down in Tenterden, accompanied by a generous array of canapes. For the meal itself, we had a choice of four dishes from each course and everyone was very pleased with the quality and presentation of their food, which arrived together and piping hot.
My only gripe was that we had to choose our dessert prior to the meal which seemed a little unnecessary and that the waiter insisted on pouring the wine rather than it being left on the table, which would have made his life a lot easier! However, the service was very good and the staff in the hotel were generally friendly and helpful. I would certainly recommend Hotel du Vin as a reliable option for anyone looking for a dinner venue.
We took advance of the special offer of dinner for 2 (2 courses only plus a bottle of house wine and coffee) during the week. The Hotel du Vin has always been a pleasure to visit as the food is always excellent as is the service so a deal like this was too good to miss. A drink in the bar – think dimly lit, intimate, gentleman's club, with a good serving of excellent olives and peanuts and generous measures, while perusing the menu – quite difficult to do as the lighting is so dim. The deal restricts you to specific menus and the choices were rather limited and we were very surprized to see beefburgers – not really “la classe” for the chef and this hotel for dinner. The dinning room was completely empty when we were ushered through at just before 8pm but it slowly filled up with other dinners who were all placed at one end of the room to make it seem more populated. The dinning room decor is French provincial – old, bare, dark wood floorboards, dark wood tables and chairs, dim lighting, old French posters and adverts on the walls, shabby chic objetcs, with hop bines strung around the windows! It's comfortable and welcoming and very French. My “classic smoked salmon” starter was presented as a large mass and did not look very attractive, however, it did have a generous half a lemon to squeeze over it but it was rather greasey and tasted “farmed”. My husband's chicken livers he savoured to the full! We both selected gurnard for main dish and were very pleasantly surprised as it is not a fish that we offen eat. The flesh was moist and full of flavour with a crisp, crunchy skin. The vegetables were colourful and added to the presentation but the clear sauce was the “piece de resistance” – slightly sweet with hints of citrus which brought out the full flavour of the fish. The waiter suggested that my husband might enjoy some potatoes with his, so he selected fries and we were surpirzed to see them presented in a paper cone like a fast food restaurant! As we expected, the table wine was very acceptable – the wine list here is a joy to read and as the Sommeliers are so knowledgeable it is a real pleasure to discuss it with them. We had no room for dessert even if the deal had encompassed it and so were happy to complete the meal with a really good cup of coffee. The final damage was £70 with the extras – pre-dinner drinks and potatoes with the meal, still a good price for the Hotel du Vin though.
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