Oakley Hall is, in essence, organised as a venue for events ranging from sales conferences to wedding receptions.
It also has 18 bedrooms, none of which are in the main house and are described as in a 'courtyard' setting.
Initial impressions are very favourable: a long sweeping road leads through manicured parkland to a classic Georgian country mansion, complete with carriage driveway, a parterre & lovely rural views in every direction. The main entrance is now glassed-in against inclement weather and the Reception area has original eighteenth century tiles on the floor.
Through the entrance hall door, however, the tail-ends of a sales conference-lots of "suited & booted" people, standing beside a bar, which was certainly not built at the same time as the house, could be seen. On questioning, the Russian receptionist told me that there were several different functions happening that day- and this was mid week.
The overnight accommodation looks very pleasant: well renovated old stables, with plenty of parking. Once inside the rooms, however, impressions were less favourable.
I felt that everything in the room had been designed with the single (male) conference delegate in mind. So- although I had booked 2 single beds for my mother & me-and they were there, the room itself was barely large enough to swing a cat: a single armchair being jammed in between a desk, upright chair & an occasional table.
Furthermore, although there was plenty of hanging space, with lots of non-detachable hangers, there were no drawers large enough to take any clothing -and dressing gowns & slippers were only available 'on request'
Although the furnishings were of good quality, the 'refreshments' offered in the room were stingy to say the least. Two whole biscuits in a kilner jar, 2 sachets each of English Breakfast & Earl Grey tea & some ghastly looking sachets of canteen type coffee - no fruit, mint teas or decaff & only 2 mugs to drink from.
There is a path through the grounds between the rooms and the main house - but there are no signs showing the route. The most bizarre thing, however, was that we were given only a single plastic computerised cards, which we used first to open the courtyard gates BUT, the same cardis also needed to switch on the lights, by placing it in a slot AND to get in & out of the entry doors. All the doors are very heavy fire doors, which could not be easily left open and I could not see how I could go outside to retrieve our luggage without plunging the room (and my mother) into darkness! Clearly I was the only person to have experienced this difficulty, however, as the receptionist told me they normally only ever gave out one card per room.
On returning to the Main House, the dining room proved to be a real disappointment: compared to the other public rooms, it had all the ambience of a Post House Hotel and, on occasion, a very odd choice of background music- rap with breakfast?
The food in our 5 course 'tasting menu' included in our deal was, however, universally excellent: beautifully presented and delicious but, though enough for us, might have left a rugby player seeking out the local take-away.
Service, whilst friendly, was lacksadaisical; on occasion, I had to remove plates myself & put them on another table befoe the next course arrived.
We had coffee in The Library: fortunately for us, we managed to bag a sofa, which is at it should be after a pleasant dinner - but with only 2 available, most people had to make do with very upright Louis XIV chairs set at matching tables.
Breakfast again reflected the oddly prevalent stinginess, with little choice of fresh fruit, no plain or calorie reduced yoghurt & only sliced brown or white bread. The cooked breakfast looked a better option, although the kitchen was clearly being run by a completely different chef to the one who had produced such lovely food the evening before. My eggs benedict was just about edible- but using Parma ham, with all the trailing pieces of fat left on, served on the teeniest bagel ever.
So, to conclude; if you are looking for somewhere peaceful and pleasant for an overnight stay, in beautiful countryside, close to either Basingstoke or Winchester, or a matter of minutes from the M3, you could do a great deal worse than the Oakley Hall Hotel (provided you can negotiate an acceptable room rate)
The staff will be pleasant to deal with and the food is of an acceptable standard.
If, however, you are looking for '5 star' type customer service, with all bells & whistles, which one might expect with well presented Georgian buildings, then this place might disappoint.
Lastly, one important piece of advice, before you make a booking, even on what appears to be a 'good deal' - check just how many functions are to be held during your stay, so that you can take a view on what this might mean for you.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Until 2009 Oakley Hall Hotel solely hosted weddings, meetings, conferences and events, before becoming established as one of the leading hotels in Hampshire, along with the 2 AA Rosette restaurant. In 2014, a major £4 million restoration project saw Oakley Hall Hotel returned to its full glory. With 50 beautiful bedrooms, suites and even a delightful 3-bedroom Garden Cottage from which to choose, guests can indulge in a luxurious stay, enjoy a relaxing drink in the 1795 Bar & Lounge and a fine dining experience in the award-winning 2 AA Rosette Glasshouse Restaurant. Outside there are acres and acres of stunning grounds to explore. From a gentle walk to an early morning run or an afternoon of clay pigeon shooting, there are plenty of things to do. ... more less
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