THE GEORGE Townhouse could easily be held up as a yardstick for great British hospitality.
From the moment we arrived and were greeted by assistant manager Paige – who was here there and everywhere during our stay, with helpful advice and always a big smile – it would be hard to pinpoint much which could have been improved upon.
The grade II-listed Georgian property, which stands proudly in the centre of Shipston-on-Stour, was given an extensive makeover last April by new owners Brakespear. The result is a tasteful mix of upcycled and recycled antique and modern, which is quirky and fun, but not at the expense of comfort or functionality. It all adds up to a wonderfully relaxed and welcoming vibe which The George exudes – from the big roaring open fire in winter to the charming outside courtyard in summer.
A long bar sits at the centre of life downstairs, serving a range of beers, wines and spirits, including including a range of specialist gins, off which are various rooms to sit and enjoy a drink, and also the restaurant.
Upstairs The George boasts 15 well-designed elegant rooms with extremely comfortable mattresses and a range of Temple Spa toiletries. For the standard the rooms are also extremely reasonably priced starting at £100. This includes an excellent breakfast – full English with locally sourced sausage, bacon, and eggs, and a kitchen which actually thinks to cook the tomato (a small point maybe, but its the small points which add up), together with various other egg options (Benedict, Royale and Florentine), pancakes, flavour of the moment avocado, and continental options.
Food you quickly come to realise is something they take very seriously at The George. To stay at The George and not dine would be an insult to yourself.
Both head chef Matthew Hiscoe and executive head chef Antony Ely have many years experience, including in Michelin starred kitchens, and both are passionate about local produce.
The menu is reflective of quality rather than quantity. We started with an excellent twice baked cheddar souffle with spinach and grain mustard, and chicken bang bang skewers, which certainly packed the necessary kick. This we followed with a succulent
Roasted chicken supreme, roasted red pepper, Lyonnaise potatoes, and saffron aioli, and a hearty Beer battered haddock with triple cooked chips and crushed peas, although it has to be said the homemade tartare sauce was not pleasant.
A caramel-crackingly good Creme brulee was shared afterwards, together with a cheese selection, which again kept things local with a Cotswold white joining a Wookey Hole cheddar and La Cave Stilton.
All was washed down with a smooth fruity Italian Merlot.
And The George is quickly establishing quite a reputation for its Sunday lunches.
Its Sunday Family Serve Roasts offer a choice of three meats – beef, pork and chicken – served on a platter to share with all the trimmings including pigs in blankets, Yorkshire puddings, imaginatively roasted veg, stunning roast potatoes cooked in beef dripping, and lashings of gravy. It is quite superb. Various single meat combinations are also available along with other mains, together with starters and puds.
If the weak pound in these Brexit days encourages a few extra foreign visitors to these shores, those who find their way to The George will find the best of British – both old and new. Homegrown visitors will be no less impressed.
Visit thegeorgeshipston.co.uk for further details.