Adrian Mourby

Back to Inspirations
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:
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa

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

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

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

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

Pennyhill Park, an Exclusive Hotel & Spa

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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