True enough. But doesn’t stop some of them being good, the Bath one being a case in point. Sometimes reliable is what I want, as opposed to the hit-and-miss of a more hipster place, invariably run by two old school buddies, one of whom can cook a bit (on a good day).Avoid the Ivy, it's a chain now and is just so flipping commercial it's unreal. Every large town now was one, it's a joke.
Took the family to Lucknam for Christmas, brilliant hotel.You might like Whatley Manor near Malmesbury. Excellent food and a lovely spa. Had my 50th there. Also hired their cinema for a private screening of the England rugby so I could watch it by myself, with cold beers, with no interference from the children etc. You and your wife could have a private screening of your favourite movie, a bottle of champagne, etc.
Or maybe Lucknam Park between Bristol and Bath. Again, very good food, and lots of other excellent restaurants in those two cities. We hired it for a family get-together between Christmas and New Year a couple of years ago. And they have horses, if you fancy a gallop around the estate.
In Ireland it has to be Ballyfin. I think it was voted the Best Hotel in the World when it first opened. Just glorious. Warning - it's not cheap!
One of the most extraordinary experiences. I won't be hurrying back though. Totally not because I didn't enjoy it, but because there are plenty of places (from experience) where the food is within a hair as good and the cost is a lot less. Plus, in most cases, we find them more accessible. You have a different, less formal relationship with the staff. Claude Boisi at Bibendum was case in. Literally half the price, but a truly lovely evening.This place is decent:
A feast for the senses awaits at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. The vision of chef Raymond Blanc, Oxford is yours to explore from this sublime country retreatwww.belmond.com
Been here and it was lovely...