Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Gastronomic Oasis in Rural England Is a Foodie Paradise ; LISA GRAY Stayed in Shropshire for a Weekend in a Cuisine Hotspot - Staying at Ludlow's Fishmore Hall, Which Is Famed for Its Food

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Gastronomic Oasis in Rural England Is a Foodie Paradise ; LISA GRAY Stayed in Shropshire for a Weekend in a Cuisine Hotspot - Staying at Ludlow's Fishmore Hall, Which Is Famed for Its Food

Article excerpt

I'M ashamed to say that, prior to this visit, Shropshire was not on my short break wish-list.

Not that I thought anything bad about the place - it was a part of the country that I was quite simply ignorant about, never having been and knowing very little about it.

On invitation to visit the independent boutique hotel Fishmore Hall in Ludlow, I was surprised to find it just over two hours by car from Manchester - and a lovely drive at that, much of the route taking in pleasant A roads instead of necessitating long stretches on motorway.

The approach to the hotel itself takes in the Shropshire Hills - a designated area of outstanding natural beauty which more than lives up to its name - long, rolling stretches of green punctuated by quaint villages and hamlets, a quintessentially British part of the world.

The relaxing drive brought a sense of contentment as we pulled into the grounds of the grand former Georgian mansion, a stunning white house amid the surrounding green.

And this feeling was enhanced on arrival by the hotel's staff - uniformly welcoming, attentive and genuinely proud of their workplace.

The property, which has 15 bedrooms, was saved by award-winning hotelier Laura Penman after it fell into disrepair. She oversaw its renovation aged just 27, relaunching the mansion as a hotel in 2007.

The result is hugely successful, respecting the property's period features but using contemporary decor to create a fresh, attractive style throughout. No more so than in the bedrooms, which exude comfort and luxury.

The bathrooms are a highlight - each individually designed with large walk-in waterfall showers and many boasting deep, generous marble baths, perfect for relaxation after a long walk in the hills.

Ludlow town centre itself is a pleasant 15-minute stroll away and my former ignorance of its charms is soon replaced by great appreciation.

Picturesque, pretty and vibrant, it offers unique, independent shops specialising in art, food, antiques and crafts.

Markets run every day except Tuesday, the main farmers' market being situated in a square beneath the stunning Ludlow Castle, a restored Norman citadel which makes for a fascinating visit. …

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