Reviewed by Emma Legge
When I was asked to do this review the first thing I had to do was get on to Google and search for the website as Buyagift is not a website I had heard of before. Immediately I found it very easy to navigate my way around and find the section I was to select from; Overnight Getaway with Dinner for Two. We had 52 locations to choose from so were spoilt for choice. We’d decided it needed to be within an hour and a half of our home and fancied a small hotel rather than a guesthouse or pub. There were choices for all three types of venues so something to suit everyone. I found the review section for each venue ideal as it very quickly helped us narrow down our choice. We chose The Episode Hotel in Leamington Spa, the photos showed a regal building, clean, modern bedrooms and sumptuous food, so along with a 4 out of 5 rating from the given reviews we felt it would be a good choice. Whether you use buyagift.com to buy a present for someone or just to buy yourselves a good value treat, you get sent a tin about A5 in size (this is an optional extra and costs an extra £3.50, the standard pack is a wallet) with a credit card style voucher inside and some literature on how to use your voucher, which is valid for 10 months from purchase. Now I’m something of a packaging geek, I seriously get tempted by good design and smart packaging and in my book, this tin was a winner! I think it looks great and really does feel like you’re giving a gift rather than simply a voucher in an envelope. Once you have your voucher, go to the Buyagift website and click the icon on the top right GOT A VOUCHER, enter your voucher details then you’re guided to call your chosen venue to check availability and make your booking – it really is that simple!
So, onto the venue, I called them as soon as we’d selected them and was greeted by a friendly sounding lady. There was no problem explaining our type of voucher and she immediately knew which details to ask for. Being January, we were able to book in for just a week later although I’m guessing you would have to give a bit more notice than that usually (depending on when you would like to go). On arrival, we were not disappointed with the hotel, it’s easy to find, ample free parking and situate a very short walk from the town. The building dates from 1850 and has 32 rooms over 3 floors. Its décor is modern and smart but beautifully in keeping with original features within the building. They have an elegant extension and conservatory which is where the bar is situated. We had to wait a few minutes from ringing the bell on arrival but this gave us time to read the guest book that as in the reception, we immediately noted that all comments mentioned the friendly staff and our experience was no different. Both staff who welcomed us were very friendly and couldn’t have done more to help.
Our room was not huge but certainly big enough, very clean and nicely decorated. The bathroom was modern. All in all, a nice, comfortable room. I noted in the evening that the man who had checked us in was also running the bar, I really liked this, as one, he remembered us but two, it felt like they all really knew the hotel and took pride in it running well from kitchen to bar to reception.
Our dinner was booked for 7:30 although we were told that as they weren’t fully booked we could be a little early or late to suit us. This was great as the bar was buzzing and vibrant and we opted to have a drink first. The staff behind the bar were friendly and knowledgeable about the wide range of drinks. We were able to select where we wanted to sit in the small but elegant restaurant and given the menu for those eating with a voucher, this showed the supplementary prices for items like steak and sauce, I felt that these were very fair prices. My husband chose: Braised Duck Tacos, Chicken Caesar Burger with parmesan cheese and anchovies and the cheese platter which had a supplement price of just £1.50. I chose the Pressed Ham Hock Terrine, the 8oz sirloin steak (£1.50 supplement) with a green peppercorn sauce (£2.50 supplement) followed by Spanish Churros with chocolate sauce. We loved how we were not at all rushed, there was a staff member always nearby so we could have hurried the meal had we wanted but we love taking our time so this was a great dining experience for us. All of our courses was beautifully cooked and well presented. It was only on ordering our sweets that I saw the information page of the menu that says they have had a Michelin trained Spanish chef there since 2015, his style is evident in the cooking and we really felt treated. The staff were all attentive and all had knowledge of the food, giving my husband advise on his selections. We finished our meal with a shared drink of gin, the barman who was also acting as waiter had a great understanding of all the gins on offer and advised us on ne to suit our desserts.
The walls are a bit thin so we were woken in the early hours of the morning by our neighbours returning very late but I feel this is beyond the control of the hotel and it didn’t upset our night’s sleep too much. Our cooked breakfast the next morning was pleasant, not huge but enough considering how much we’d eaten the night before! It was served to us and there’s a continental selection that we could help ourselves to so there really was more than enough.
We really did enjoy our stay at The Episode and plan to visit again to explore Leamington Spa some more. The price of £99 for the Buyagift voucher is fantastic value for money. I would not hesitate to buy through Buyagift again and with so many different gift options to choose from to suit all price ranges, I feel that it would be great for gifts for all my family!
RRP: £99 (was £149)
Available to buy from Buyagift here.