A Magical Country Escape: The Tawny, Staffordshire – Review

By Kirsty Nutkins

2 weeks ago

Get ready to reconnect with nature


Set in 70 acres of Staffordshire countryside, The Tawny is a five-star hotel that makes the perfect place for a nature-based escape. Kirsty Nutkins reviews.

Hotel Review: The Tawny, Consall, Staffordshire

STAY

Hotel bedroom with parquet flooring, wood panelling and floor-to-ceiling windows

Set just outside the Peak District National Park, The Tawny is a haven of tranquility. And while it offers all the usual trappings of a five-star hotel such as a spa, outdoor heated pool and fine-dining restaurant, its main selling point is its natural beauty. 

The hotel sits within the Consall Hall Estate, which dates from 1246 and was transformed in the 20th century, over some 60 years, from a disused quarry to open grounds by William Podmore. Upon his death in 2018, two local couples, the Scott-Moncrieffs and the Reeveses, set about reviving Podmore’s lifelong passion project, with the addition of a ‘deconstructed hotel’ – responding to travellers’ desire for privacy and a more back-to-nature feel. The effect, it has to be said, is breathtaking.

The Tawny’s 55 rooms – a mixture of cosy timber-framed shepherd’s huts, sprawling treehouses and boathouses, and ‘Fledglings lodges’ (sleeping larger parties of up to eight) – are tucked seamlessly into the landscape, which comprises areas of sun-dappled woodland, undulating green hills and shimmering lakes. There are also whimsical little follies with turrets, stone circles, arches and gazebos, adding to the magical overall feel. 

Aerial view of estate with wooden cabins and a lake

Most of the rooms are within a 10 or 15 minute walk of the lobby, bar and restaurant, though electric buggies will ferry you around if you don’t fancy the trek. We stayed in ‘Beech’ with our young daughter, a two-bedroom family treehouse complete with a private deck and spectacular views over the grounds. There’s a freestanding bath in the bedroom, right in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as an outdoor shower and handcrafted, outdoor copper tub (an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional hot tub).

In fact, the hotel as a whole may very well score top marks for its eco credentials. Carefully considered to have minimal impact on the environment, each structure on site is pinned to the ground to avoid any root damage to the ancient forest and gardens. A tree is planted for every Fledgling booking made, while 108 solar panels and solar batteries have been installed, along with 14 EV chargers for guests’ use.

EAT

Restaurant with navy blue walls, floral chairs and glass pendant lights

The main building, which houses the Feather Bar and Plumicorn Restaurant (named after the tuft of an owl’s head) is built on the site of the old Consall Manor. This striking double height owl-shaped structure presides over the gardens from its highest point, its glass façade starkly modern but somehow fitting elegantly into its surroundings. And the inside is equally impressive, with botanical print chairs, foliage walls and swish pendant lamps. 

If you’re in the mood for a casual bite, Feather Bar’s menu offers a selection of tapas, pizzas and sharing boards. But for pure indulgence, the grandiose Plumicorn, with views across the lakes and grounds, is worth splashing out on. Head chef Andrew Watts has created a wonderful celebration of British fare, making use of local and seasonal ingredients, with highlights including the quail with wild garlic and the Dunwood Farm beef fillet, accompanied by chips and sticky glazed carrots.

DO

Exterior of The Tawny hotel and outdoor pool at night

Guests at The Tawny are encouraged to switch off and immerse themselves in the beauty of their surroundings by taking a stroll or cycle (there’s free bike hire) through the five miles of lakeside gardens and secluded fells. 

Along the way, you can spot the estate’s abundance of wildlife – we spied ducks, deer, moorhen and rabbits during our visit. Fancy learning more about the gardens? Then take a tour with head gardener Jonathan Race, who will give you the lowdown on the native trees and bee-friendly wildflowers, and how he’s been inspired by the estate’s former owner, William Podmore.

You can also request a picnic of hams, cheeses and prosecco (£50 for two) to be enjoyed in the grounds and delivered in a cute wicker basket.

If you’re not already feeling totally zen, head to the Thatched Cottage Spa (this is more a treatment room rather than a spa, but plans are afoot to expand it) for a massage, take a dip in the outdoor heated pool or enjoy a game of table tennis (the table is hidden away within the grounds).

The Tawny is also the perfect place from which to explore the beautiful Staffordshire Moorlands and Churnet Valley, with neighbouring walks through the RSPB Coombes Valley Reserve, along the Caldon Canal and to the Churnet Valley Railway. Further afield (within an hour’s drive) is Trentham Monkey Forest, Alton Towers, Chatsworth House and the Wedgewood Museum.

THE FINAL WORD

The Tawny describes itself as a hotel like no other, and it’s true. Set amid a vast and beautiful estate, it feels magical – almost otherworldly. It’s the perfect place to relax, unwind and reconnect with yourself and nature. 

BOOK

Rooms at The Tawny Hotel start from £240. thetawny.co.uk

Kirsty travelled to The Tawny by car, with a carbon footprint of 0.118 t. ecollectivecarbon.com