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Top ten UK hotels and Inns with cookery classes

by Adrian Mourby

Top ten UK hotels and Inns with cookery classes

Once upon a time a hotel was just somewhere to lay your head if you didn’t have a club to go to or friends in town. Now hotels are visions of a better life, a refuge where we can live in greater luxury than any lord, a building whose decor has cost many millions and where spas are on hand to make us feel more beautiful and relaxed than we ever thought possible. But hotels have also become places where you can learn new skills. Almost anything is taught at hotels these days, from archery to abseiling, clay-pigeon-shooting to kayaking but one of the most reliable and rewarding activities is the cookery class. So many British hotels are renowned for their food these days, so it’s fortunate for us that a select few are willing to share their secrets with us. Here are ten of my favourites:

Showing below are all 6 records in "Top ten UK hotels and Inns with cookery classes"

Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa (Hotel)

Colerne, Chippenham

Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Colerne, Chippenham, Wiltshire

Seventeenth-century Lucknam Park was owned by a succession of wealthy British families before being turned into a hotel in 1987. During the Battle of Britain, its extensive grounds housed Spitfires and Hurricanes with the park’s canopy of trees providing camouflage. As a hotel, Lucknam Park has developed a reputation for excellent food under its Michelin-starred Executive Chef Hywel Jones. His cookery school is located in a small house on the estate with a kitchen designed by Stephen Graver, and appliances by ATAG and Fhiaba. Among the day courses on offer are Fish & Shellfish, Macarons, Discover Thai, Simple Breads, and Handmade Chocolates. The school aims to help participants perfect their skills or master new techniques. There’s a fixed price of £175 pp which covers all ingredients, lunch, course folder and Cookery School bag . There are also “Adult and Child” and “Kids Only” courses. From £175 per day

Swinton Park (Hotel)

Masham, Ripon

Swinton Park, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire

Neo-Gothic Swinton Park is still owned by Cunliffe-Lister family who are the Earls of Swinton although it was converted into a country house hotel in 2001. The hotel’s Cookery School is located on the ground floor of a converted Georgian stable wing on the estate. Light and airy throughout and decorated with Fired Earth tiles, the school has a demonstration kitchen with appliances by Gaggenau, equipment from Kenwood and knives by Wusthof. There is also an Aga and views over the castle turret and parkland. In this tranquil environment cookery students attend practical, hands-on courses covering a range of themes and techniques from Dishes for Entertaining to Wild About Food foraging courses and the Chef’s Table Demonstration Dining Experiences. There are half-day, full-day and two day courses, both residential and non-residential course and a different levels of sophistication from children’s cookery lessons to fine dining. Students also get to use the four-acre walled garden behind the hotel, which is planted with fruit, vegetables and herbs – and cut flowers during the summer months. £160 pp full day

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons (Hotel)

Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Church Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire

The best-known hotel cookery school in Britain has been running at Le Manoir since 1991. The Raymond Blanc Cookery School offers the rare opportunity to learn and practice in the kitchens of a two Michelin-starred restaurant. Under the guidance of head tutor Mark Peregrine - who was working in the kitchen with M Blanc when he won his first Michelin star nearly 30 years ago - students are given plenty of hands-on opportunities to develop their skills on courses such as Kitchen Secrets, Sauces for Courses, Wine & Dine, and Artisanal Bread Making. Some courses are for those with a lot of experience under their culinary belt, but there is also a Learn to Cook in One Day for beginners, a Garden to Plate course (using the 90 vegetables and 70 herbs in Le Manoir’s garden), and Blanc Vite, which Raymond Blanc developed to teach students how to create fast, simple, and delicious dinner parties. Courses don’t have to be residential, but after spending a day in this foodie heaven you’re unlikely to want to go home. From £185 (half day) £365 (full day)

Airds Hotel & Restaurant, Port Appin, Appin, Argyll & Bute

Nestled between two lochs on Scotland’s west coast, Airds is a perfect Argyll weekend hideaway with big comfortable sofas, decanters of Whisky Mac in the bedrooms and lots of wonderful food. At various times of the year the hotel shares its culinary prowess with small groups of eight, always instilling in them the fun of learning. The theme of these weekends is usually how to prepare a successful dinner party. There is practical instruction too, with guests learning how to make something challenging, like a sugar cage. And there’s usually a lot of laughter heard coming out of the kitchen. Courses run over a weekend, starting on Friday night with a quick get together before dinner and the real work starting after breakfast on Saturday. This first day finishes around 4.30pm with an hour’s break for lunch. Work resumes in the kitchen on Sunday with guests departing after lunch. From £550 2 nights including dinner, bed and breakfast

The Mistley Thorn (Restaurant)

High Street, Mistley, Manningtree

The Mistley Thorn, High Street, Manningtree, Essex

This graceful Georgian inn overlooking the River Stour is a popular place to stay and dine in Essex. Its cheerful decor complements a menu inspired by the abundance of local seafood from neighbouring Mersea and Sherri Singleton’s cheerful new cookery school just down the road at the Mistley Kitchen. Sherri is American and describes her menu as “fresh and robust”. Try the smoked haddock chowder or the seafood stew of shellfish with wild bass. Also recommended is the roast Sutton Hoo chicken breast with girolles and chard. Cookery classes at Mistley Thorn started in 2001 but they moved into bright new facilities in 2013 behind Sherri’s retail shop which sells an attractive range of cookware and a list of fine wines and spirits. Sherri calls her classes “workshops”. They cover subjects like Vegan Cooking, Fish Basics and French Bread Making. There are also master classes with guests chefs who specialise in subjects like butchery, Italian cookery and Indian vegetarian food. From £85 per day

Pennyhill Park, an Exclusive Hotel & Spa, London Road, Bagshot, Surrey

Bread is a speciality of Pennyhill Park in Surrey, so much so that the hotel runs monthly Bakery Masterclasses. Sitting in over 100 acres of rolling parkland, Pennyhill began life as the country home of a successful – and very wealthy -Victorian engineer. He chose an idyllic site between Ascot, Sunningdale and Wentworth for his estate. The house became a hotel in 1972 and now boasts a two Michelin-star restaurant, Michael Wignall at The Latymer. Using its own in-house bakery, Pennyhill now offers bakery and cake courses with Head Pastry Chef, Denis Drame. Classes begin at 1.30pm and conclude at 4.30pm for afternoon tea in the Ascot Bar. This is served with a glass of Nyetimber English sparkling wine and a list of recipes to take home. From £95 pp half day

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