If your father left you a hotel in his will that you never even knew he owned you might feel pretty confused/petrified. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Simon Chopra, the owner and champion of Southcrest Manor Hotel in Redditch. Since the unexpected inheritance, Simon has spent his time, energy and a significant amount of money beavering away to put life back into the beautiful manor house.
The original part of the hotel is a stunner of a building surrounded by gorgeous gardens and woodland and while there are parts of the hotel that are still ripe for renovation, there’s much to admire already. Laura Ashley thought so too. The brand and the hotel have joined forces to create the shiny new, Laura Ashley the Tea Room which as you’d expect is decked out in full-on country house loveliness. There’s a fab new bar leading to the conservatory where we nestled in to give the afternoon tea the once over.
We love afternoon tea. Who doesn’t? And its surge in popularity shows no sign of waning. The Southcrest Manor version is a traditional afternoon tea. Don’t go expecting Nocturnal Animals-style wit and wackiness. While there was no liquid nitrogen or inventive drinking vessels, there were warm scones from the top drawer – both plain and raisin, a pistachio and raspberry gateaux that sang (not literally), perfect mini Victoria sponges, a delicate berry cheesecake and a moreish chocolate pot.
The sweet stuff was superior to the savoury in our view. The sandwiches were plentiful and tasty, but not wow-inducing and the smoked salmon to cream cheese ratio was a bit off – a bit mean with the salmon we thought. Presentation was gorgeous and the selection of tea was impressive. There’s a vegan version available too which is apparently even better than the non-vegan.
We’ve had afternoon tea that has been wildly over-priced in the past, but at £20 per head (£26.50 for fizz rather than tea) this was an absolute steal.