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Grapevine Hotel Review - Exclusive to www.glos.info
For a town with a name like Stow, visitors’ bunking options are anything but basic (there’s a five-star youth hostel! Did you know that was even a possibility?). The Grapevine, named for it’s restaurant’s living canopy, is an example of tailored hospitality. Like any tailored garment, it allows your free movement to feel natural.
Greeted by the staff, you’ll be given a keyfob that contains both the key to your room, which there’s no request to check at the desk as you come and go around the town, and the key to the large, heavy, antique front door. Operations close down at eleven (the restaurant is closed and the bar goes dark, to accommodate guests staying directly above it), and if it so takes you that a stroll around the town is the only thing you need, you’re perfectly able to let yourself in or out without contact or request. We were welcomed to roam freely through the ground floor, and garden-grounds to the back of the building. Any questions you may have about your room--how to work the shower, what the cord by the bed does (it’s a light), if you can change your restaurant booking, to request a different newspaper in the morning--will be answered either in person or via the phone in your room, quickly, with good humour. Every staff member we encountered had a similar manner of welcome: not studied subservience, or polite disengagement, but giving the effect of talking with respected equals. If you’re not quite sure how to approach members of the service industry, and are intimidated by person-to-person power dynamics whenever booking a stay away from home, the Grapevine has nothing for you to fear. It was extremely pleasant to be amongst individuals who were receptive to our needs and requests, but not reliant on our attention or energy. I found their professionalism exceptional, and easily forgave the one moment at which we found the reception deserted; there were only two front of house staff visible on site in the full twenty-four hours we stayed.
Downstairs, sofas and armchairs are available in cosy rooms. Sit if you like, read a magazine (two separate issues of food magazine Crumbs, Cotswold edition, were scattered, for example). Enjoy the sun through the stained glass and ivy-edged windows. If you’re dining on site, you can enjoy the salon which attaches both to the restaurant, and to the bar. Fresh flowers and art, mirrors… there’s something to catch your eye, no sterile waiting room to interrupt your comfort. Natural light is invited in through large windows, but, as mentioned, they’re highly decorative and allow a cosiness to prosper.
Eating at the restaurant is highly recommended; reviewed elsewhere, I’ll say only that I’d come back to dine at the Grapevine if I was staying for some reason elsewhere in town. The full English breakfast, in contrast, was not so good. I don’t believe the same chef to have cooked it. My advice in the morning is to stick to the cold buffet: piles of attractive and delicious pastries, chilled juices, a variety of breakfast cereal, etc. Either that, or toast and scrambled eggs. The eggs came in great quantities, so you will at least be full.
The bar is a wonderful environment. So dark, so black, so shiny! It’s pleasant (even cinematic) just to be in, and the front of house manager, who tended the bar during our stay, was a generous problem solver.
Our room was one of their Premiums, and it was quite lovely. In reviewing the restaurant I stressed generosity as a hallmark of Grapevine service and I must repeat that here: Three chairs, in a double room, along with a windowsill suitable for seating. It’s a small thing, but it feels bountiful. You can choose where to sit. it’s up, entirely, to you.
The bathroom is stocked with a soap each, clean towels and flannels (of course), shower caps, a small garment repair kit and boxed beauty essentials (cotton wool, cotton wool buds, an emery board), and two different flavours of shampoo, as well as moisturiser and a bodywash. A large corner bath with two levels, as well as a separate, cubicled shower. The water controls on both of these are modern to the point of novelty, but don’t worry! They’re intuitive to use, as long as you don’t get impatient. The shower, especially: don’t keep pressing it. Just wait. The bathroom was spacious and well lit, warm yellow, and in our case with a corner window that leads out onto the dip between two roof summits. Such romance!
No part of our bedroom was cramped. An attic room, up an excitingly low-roofed staircase of its own, it gets morning light and a comfortable evening susurrus from the Grapevine’s bar/restaurant outdoor seating below. The stone of the wall is visible at the head of the bed, and facing it, another slopes with the roof, and the large-print, pale golden wallpaper on the right of you, as you lie in bed, is strong enough to create visual harmony with the exposed rock, and luxurious enough to inspire you to lie back and enjoy it. Free wifi, a television, plenty of little milk capsules with the hot drink selection next to a better quality kettle than the one I have in my house… it’s a good place to stay. A place to feel good about doing very little in. We toured some of the other rooms, and from Premium down to Cosy they were all agreeable and inviting, well-arranged and individually decorated.
Would I return? Certainly. A fine hotel in a town full of diverting pass-times and attractive small businesses--those especially with an eye for antiques or a foodie’s palate will have no trouble filling a weekend. A July visit to Stow-on-the-Wold offers roses galore, and there are plenty of public footpaths accessible from the Grapevine by foot.
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