We were invited to the soft opening of Feldon Valley hotel and golf club, which lies between Sutton-under-Brailes and Brailes in Oxfordshire. Its location is significant because it’s literally just minutes from our house in Tysoe, which meant for once we could get there for the 6.30pm start!
If you’re local you might know Feldon Valley, as Brailes Golf Club, it was for many many years a place for work functions (and golf, of course!). I had a perfectly nice day out on the driving range with a bbq when I worked for an insurance firm in my gap year – it was perfectly pleasant, but perhaps nothing to write home about.
Fast forward a decade and the place has gone through a radical transformation. The clubhouse is unrecognisable and in addition, the team have added three large lodges and the main hotel building. There’s even a small gym which is open to members.
Lodges at Feldon Valley
The accommodation at Feldon Valley has a contemporary, comfortable, personable vibe. The artwork on the walls is all shot from an on-staff photographer, Bamford toiletries line the shelves in the bathroom and the staff go out of their way to welcome you. Every guest is sent a personalised letter, even including the dog’s name. (Did I mention that they’ve special rooms for pets?)
The hotel and lodges can be booked via the likes of Hotel.com or Booking.com, however, to get the best service and equitable price, Feldon Valley encourages visitors to book direct. This is so they can provide those personal touches, like suggestions for your dog walks, which they can’t always do through a third party site. A room costs around £190 a night for a Lodge Golf View if booking direct; the Lodge Suite is £250.
The lodges are designed so that you can either hire the whole lodge – which includes 3 – 4 rooms with one room set aside as a suite which includes a kitchen diner and living room area. Alternatively, you can hire just a suite or just a room. It’s very flexible making a great space for families or larger gatherings.
The Hotel Manager mentioned that the lodges were proving popular for wedding parties – with the suites providing enough space for a bride and her bridesmaids to get ready with the photographer bustling around.
To begin with, I was indifferent to the fact that the lodge offered a ‘golf course view’, I’m no Tiger Woods, but having said that when you’re stood on the balcony, I can imagine that it would be an enviable spot for a romantic breakfast for two. The view did steal the show and the wide sliding glass doors help.
The lodges themselves are set amongst a woodland area, which is still in its infancy. In time, it’ll be a lovely walk through the wooded floor to reach the lodges.
The hotel is perceptively big, from the outside, you’d guess maybe ten or so rooms, but it’s actually quite large – probably twenty rooms upwards. The hotel vibe is somewhere between the bare wood of Soho Farmhouse and urban-chic Shoreditch. I’d say the only thing really missing from the experience is a spa.
Feldon Valley still has a very active golf community – a chap wandered into our tour looking for the clubhouse, so members are clearly still getting used to the new look. And we took a golf buggy for a drive around the grounds – which are extensive. Being no golfer, I can not really give you much of an indication if the course equates to a satisfying round of golf. But I can say that there were plenty of players still going at 7pm on a summer’s evening.
We stopped by the veg plot, ‘The Ecology Island’ no less, where the team plan to grow produce for the restaurant. And this gives me good segway to our dinner…
Eating – Feldon Valley’s The Kitchen
It does feel a bit wrong to call it ‘the clubhouse’ because that immediately conjures up images of a 70s working mans’ club and that is doing Feldon Valley a massive injustice. The clubhouse has two areas to its restaurant, known as The Kitchen, a more casual area for lunches, breakfast, informal meetings and a fine dining area. Both spaces have a great view over the landscape course.
On our visit, the team had set up an area for us to try several different dishes developed by executive chef, Darren Brown. Darren joined the team in February 2019 and brings with him a wealth of culinary confidence, having previously earned a Michelin star. It’s clear Darren is keen to support high-quality local producers such as Cacklebean Eggs, meat from Brailes neighbour Paddock Farm, cheeses from Wellocks and fruit and veg from Stratford’s AM Bailey. (Plus anything from the Ecology Island!)
I think Marcus Waring and Monica Galetti, Masterchef the professional judges, would have been impressed with the presentation of the dishes. Standouts for us included…
Salcombe crab with kohlrabi, fennel puree and apple puree (£11)
Alan Cox’s Oddington Asparagus, garlic, parsley, mayonnaise and Cacklebean egg yolk (£8)
Ricotta dumplings with sprouting broccoli, courgette, peas and Regato cheese (£15)
Paddock Farm Tamworth, Pork collar & head, baby carrot, carrot chutney
Dark chocolate mousse, white chocolate ice cream, praline rice Krispies
Lower Brailes honey parfait ‘sandwich’, pear and honeycomb
Strawberry ruby chocolate dome, pistachio ice cream (£7)
And local cheese served with celery salt crackers, Eccles cake and mustard fruits. (£12)
This was all washed down with several glasses of Rioja. And our highlights amount to roughly 80 per cent of the taster menu we tried. We also took a gander at the Sunday roast menu which was reasonably priced, with the roast pork and roast beef coming in at £18 and £19 respectively.
Talking to the MD, he was keen to show that really Feldon Valley was as much restaurant and hotel as it was a golf club. Appealing to locals who could swing by for coffee, lunch or dinner, business people for a meeting or indeed golfers for a round. I’d say it tows a good line between all of these.
Find out more via https://www.feldonvalley.co.uk/