Please note: our stay and all food and drink at Cadbury House were received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.
Driving up through the grounds of Cadbury House Hotel in Congresbury – part of the DoubleTree by Hilton group – you’d be forgiven for thinking that the whole place is incredibly modern. You’ll pass a bootcamp area and the hotel’s very contemporary spa building before reaching…an ancient house that dates back as far as 1790.
Added to the side, though, is a far newer building that’s created a 132-bedroom hotel after a £28m makeover when it was taken over in 2003.
Similar care has been taken with the grounds (which sadly we didn’t really get to explore, thanks to the weather) – and in the interior decor, too.
Inside the reception area, there’s no denying the big hotel feel – but with bold floral wallpaper, giant clocks and a comfortable seating area – its floor to ceiling windows overlooking the hotel grounds – you can see that there’s been effort made to make the place feel more individual and welcoming, too.
While reception was busy when we arrived, a new desk was opened to speed things up. As well as being given our room’s key card, we were handed a piece of paper that detailed timings for breakfast and the pool, along with information about connecting to the free Wifi and check-out times.
The best part, though, was the fact that we were each given a warm chocolate and nut cookie as a welcome gift, which instantly put smiles on our faces.
Travelling, as we were, with a toddler, we were put up in a king deluxe family room, with a king-size bed plus a double sofa bed. All bedrooms at Cadbury House include free WiFi, blackout curtains, an en suite bath or shower room, a work desk and chair and an LCD flat screen TV as standard, while their deluxe rooms also feature complimentary mineral water, dressing gowns, and a front-facing aspect with views over the hotel’s grounds.
It was a decent-sized room which felt quite masculine in its decor thanks to its dark, muted colours and the oversized black headboard on the king-size bed. The sofa bed had already been made up for the toddler (along with extra towels), and we were pleased to see a well-stocked tea tray – there was no risk of us running out of hot drinks. We were slightly surprised, though, that there was no minibar – we’ve become used to seeing them as standard.
A separate storage cupboard housed the ironing board and iron, along with plenty of proper hangers (not the standard-issue hotel variety that can’t be fully removed) for clothes – and our minor issues of discovering that we’d been given just one key card plus the room missing its TV remote were easily rectified with a quick trip down to reception.
The bathroom was home to a good-sized bath with shower over – and a decent supply of hot water. The Crabtree & Evelyn Verbena and Lavender toiletries were plentiful and smelled fantastic, and I loved the sign that confirmed that the front desk are happy to replace a range of forgotten items free of charge, from combs and razors to shaving cream and toothbrushes.
The one negative point about the bathroom was the frosted glass door separating it from the main bedroom: the fact that it was pretty see-through in nature may not appeal to some.
With a slightly sniffly toddler, it was a shame we didn’t get to make use of the hotel’s health club, with pool access included in the room price. Located in a separate building, which you’ll pass when you drive into the hotel, the pool area also features a sauna, a steam room and a jacuzzi. With free toiletries, large lockers, swimsuit dryers and family and baby changing areas, it’s clear they’ve put a great deal of thought into making the place suitable for swimmers of all types.
As darkness descended on Congresbury, we headed downstairs for our evening meal, and it gave us the chance to see the hotel’s grounds all beautifully lit up (and some of the resident wildlife – which includes guinea fowl and Indian runner ducks – wandering around freely).
While Cadbury House Hotel is home to Italian restaurant Bardolino (located in the health club building), it was the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse where we were booked in for dinner, access to which is through the hotel’s beautifully decorated Bar & Living Room.
And a very smartly decorated restaurant it is too, with its dark colours in keeping with the hotel’s bedrooms, and pictures of Marco Pierre White adorning the walls leaving you under no illusion as to whose name is stamped on the place.
The main menu is pretty traditional steakhouse fare: a range of classic starters followed by a wealth of Campbell Brothers beef options, freshly ground burgers, plus other meat, fish and vegetarian and vegan dishes.
The devilled whitebait starter (£8.50) didn’t disappoint, with a fresh flavour and a good, thin batter – the star of the show, though, was the chunky tartare with which it was served. And my Scotch egg (£7.95) was equally delicious, served with a generous jug of creamy sauce with a good punch of mustard. I was surprised that the egg itself was battered, not just breaded – although it was well seasoned and the meat incredibly tender and peppery.
The 28-day aged steaks come with vine tomatoes, triple cooked chips and bearnaise sauce as standard: no complaints about the medium-rare ribeye (£26.95) on the other side of the table, but the chips had a slightly odd flavour to them, as if the oil in which they were cooked could have done with being changed.
My Keith Floyd Bristol Burger (£17.50) was stacked with Cheddar, cured bacon and sweet pickled cucumber: the streaky bacon sitting three rashers deep, the brioche bun a bit dry, but the tender burger made even more exciting by the addition of a smoky BBQ glaze.
Onto desserts, and the sticky toffee pudding (£6.95) was a decadent treat, stodgy and naughty the way a good sticky toffee should be. The cafe de Paris butter ice cream was a novel addition (but it worked), while the butterscotch sauce was delicious but barely needed.
My millionnaire’s shortbread (£7.50) was ridiculously rich and decadent, the creamy filling not quite enough to offset the crumbly chocolate base and the rich dark chocolate topping. The bitter chocolate ice cream was incredible, although I feel like the dessert could have done with a lighter accompaniment to give the whole thing a bit more balance.
With fully bellies, we staggered upstairs (that’s a lie – we took the lift) to our room to settle down for the night. The room’s temperature proved easy to control and the curtains blocked out any light from outside – so far, so good. While the sounds of people walking down the corridor carried quite easily into our room, that’s to be expected in any hotel – be aware, though, that the mattresses are incredibly firm and the pillows very soft: for me, not a great combination.
Still, we woke the next morning feeling relatively refreshed (the option’s there, as you’d expect, for a wake up call, a daily paper or both) and got ourselves ready for one of my favourite parts of staying in a hotel: breakfast.
You’ll find the Cadbury House breakfast buffet in a separate room just off the main restaurant – it was closed the night before, but opening up the doors revealed a beautiful serving area with a tempting-looking array of sweet and savoury treats. There was a decent amount of choice, the hot buffet including sausages, bacon, two types of egg, beans, mushrooms, black pudding, hash browns, tomatoes…everything you need for a decent cooked breakfast – and bar slightly over-fatty sausages, it was all good quality and didn’t taste like it had been sitting in the warmers for hours.
A toast station included multiple different types of bread, while the central island was filled with a variety of pastries and sweet muffins, along with cereals and accompaniments.
At the back, a chilled counter offered cured meats and fish plus a few different cheeses, along with fruit, yoghurts and granola pots. And while you can order hot drinks directly from the servers, a coffee machine gives diners the chance to grab their own latte, hot chocolate, flat white, cappuccino or a choice of other drinks – although it did run out of coffee halfway through our meal.
If none of that appeals, you can also order dishes from the menu (a £4 supplement), which include omelettes or eggs royale, benedict or florentine.
And breakfast completed, it was time to depart. As we’d charged nothing to our room, we received a piece of paper under our door in the morning which highlighted that we could use the quick checkout option just by leaving our key cards in a box on the reception desk, which saved us queuing. With checkout from Cadbury House available until 12pm, we could have lingered longer – it’s nice to know that they don’t rush guests out at the end of their stay (they still have time to make up the rooms before new guests check in from 3).
We were pretty impressed with our stay: Cadbury House is a beautifully decorated hotel, the service was friendly yet professional, the communal areas felt relaxing yet smart. The food was, on the whole, enjoyable – and while I personally found the mattress too firm and the pillows too soft, it really is down to personal preference. With dine and stay packages, spa breaks and special events (like The Wurzels and murder mystery nights) on offer, it’s worth checking out Cadbury House if you’re looking for a break not far from Bristol’s city centre.