Tudor Park, Bearsted: tried and tested
PUBLISHED: 08:44 20 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:16 26 February 2013
There's something for everyone at the Tudor Park, whether you're a golf enthusiast, a fan of spa breaks or just love good food and wine
Tudor Park, Bearsted: tried and tested
Theres something for everyone at the Tudor Park, whether youre a golf enthusiast, a fan of spa breaks or just love good food and wine
First of all, a confession. When the idea of reviewing the Tudor Park at Bearsted, near Maidstone was first suggested, I resisted it quite strongly.
After all, its part of the worldwide Marriott chain, albeit with a four-star rating and its own country club, which in this case means an 18-hole championship golf course and leisure facilities that include a gym, swimming pool, steam room and sauna, plus beauty salon.
And Kent Life doesnt do chain hotels were all about the independents, the boutique, family-run establishments with a quirky heart. Go on, youll be surprised, they said. And its our 25th anniversary this year. I gave in.
Armed with My Talented Writer Friend, we checked in at the huge reception area and were shown to our individual rooms. Both superior rated, they had good views over the golf course at the back of the hotel and were warm, spacious and very well-appointed.
Lots of clothes hangers is always a plus, theres a handy room safe and a large flat-screen TV at the bottom of the extremely comfortable king-size bed piled high with enough pillows for a small army.
The whole hotel is absolutely spotless. We couldnt find a speck of dust, missing bathroom tile or grubby bit of carpet anywhere, however hard we looked.
Retracing our steps back and down again (the 120-bed hotel is built on a figure of eight design, which makes navigating your way around easy, if youve got a sense of direction, that is) we headed for the beauty salon.
Our therapists awaited - mine alarmingly tiny but with deceptively firm hands as she administered a Declor full-body aromatherapy massage that lasted nearly an hour. Bliss.
MTWF was even more indulgent, opting for the 70-minute Declor body wrap, which gave me nearly a half-hour start to get in a few quick laps of the pool before she emerged, all exfoliated, relaxed and declaring my skin feels like its had a holiday!
We sat in the hot tub with a mum and her seven-year-old son whove been swimming together here since he was just three months old. There was a lesson for tiny tots going on, but also room for two or three adults to get some proper swimming in.
Time was whizzing by and dinner beckoned the real big test, as Id been assured that executive head chef Tom Biddle was passionate about local produce and something of a star in the kitchen. But Id had corporate hotel meals before .
First impressions? The Conical Grill itself is extremely smart: a freestanding wall of wine at the entrance, low-level cream shades that create a soft, flattering light, contrasting modern dark-wood beams and a wooden floor, plus comfortable rattan-backed chairs at the attractively dressed, nicely spaced tables.
Unusually, with a few clever adjustments it worked just as well the following morning as a breakfast venue (excellent choice too, for all appetites), which in my experience is a rare leap to make.
The dinner menu really makes sense; you can choose starters, mains and desserts (six choices for each) that all complement each other perfectly, and we both felt we could have tried anything, it all looked so appealing.
And if youre lucky, bubbly, confident Maltese trainee sommelier Tiziana will be on duty do listen to her brilliant suggestions, which for us ranged from an aromatic Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc with our starters to a mini tasting-at-table session over our choice of reds with the mains. Shell go far.
MTW began with a restrained chargrilled aubergine salad with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and rocket. Very prettily presented, it had just the right amount of seasoning and the basil leaf dressing was an excellent touch.
Ill let her describe her main-course rump of Kentish lamb: It was served in lovely thick slices, I like mine well done and it was just right. The meat was really tender with a delicate crunchy crust and a lovely flavour of redcurrant sauce, which had been added to the jus.
Her dessert was a delicious blood orange posset with great eye appeal: a creamy base with hint of orange, served in a glass and covered with a thin layer of blood orange jelly, with two home-made shortbread biscuits on a big angular white plate.
Across the table and my juicy scallops were pan-seared with black pudding and cauliflower, making a really tasty combination of textures and flavours.
I followed with what was my highlight of the meal tender duck fillet served with potato fondant, braised red cabbage and honey-roast root vegetables, all perfectly seasonal on a winters evening and with a delicious sweetness.
Tempted by the idea of local cheeses with quince jelly, I nonetheless finished with a highly indulgent Baileys and white chocolate brle served with a large cookie, all a bit on the sugary side for my taste but impeccably executed.
Both of us agreed that we would definitely eat here again - you dont need to be a guest or business visitor, the Conical operates just as well as a destination restaurant in its own right. And you get all that great free parking at the front of the hotel too.
And for us overnight guests, it was just a quick stagger through the spacious Mezzanine bar and lounge area (we loved the alcoves that seat about six and design features like the huge swirly wall mirrors) without having to go back downstairs, which was a bonus.
The Tudor Park Marriott is a hidden gem. MTWF had never even heard of it before and Id only ever been here for business meetings, so we werent sure what to expect. It was an extremely pleasant surprise - ideal for anyone wanting a relaxing break in the middle of the Kentish countryside yet with all the advantages of a well-run chain hotel, with literally something for everyone.
We both agreed wed definitely choose to return, either for an overnight break or just for a meal, and be totally confident in recommending it to friends. A good place to have a break with the girls, or boys.
Where: Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club
Ashford Road, Bearsted, nr Maidstone ME14 4NQ
What: versatile, welcoming chain hotel with the warmth of an independent
How much: nightly rates from 103; UK and European weekend breaks available; Conical Grill two courses 18, three courses 23; Declor body wrap 62
When: room check-in 3pm, check-out 12pm; restaurant open breakfast and dinner