It’s hard to find a wedding venue these days that doesn’t claim to offer the “wow factor” though sadly few truly do. Arriving at The Elvetham Hotel however is undeniably one of those moments when you can’t quite believe your eyes.
Built in 1860 and nestled in 35 acres of sprawling Hampshire countryside, The Elvetham is a beautiful ivy clad red brick gothic mansion which can only be described as the fairytale wedding venue that brides so preciously search far and wide for. For us boys, pulling up at night in the back of a chauffeur driven car through the electric gates and up the long winding drive felt like being dropped off for dinner at Bruce Wayne’s house and we were captivated from the start!
A wedding favourite with couples from far and wide, The Elvetham is where Eamonn Holmes wed Ruth Langsford two years ago.
The Hotel is steeped in history and as the team showed us around, every stairwell, corridor or part of the grounds seemed to unveil some other hidden treasure. Yet somehow, despite its imposing features and palatable air of historic splendour, The Elvetham manages to also feel homely and exciting. We could imagine what it would be like to be children running around at a wedding here or checking-in for a conference and wondering which parts to explore first.
Fun activities such as duck herding alongside more traditional pursuits including clay pigeon shooting, archery and quad bike racing can all be arranged.
The large garden facing conservatory is the setting for the main restaurant though marquee weddings can also make use of this space and create a large area with indoors and out.
The Elvetham benefits from a splendid in-house catering team rather than relying on a long list of contract caterers and having enjoyed dinner, it is obvious that the chef and his brigade are as passionate about what they do as the weddings team, front of house staff and all others here as we found out by talking with quite a few members of the staff each as charming as the other.
Just some of the dishes we tried included duck, roast lamb with couscous and aubergine, ham hock terrine, with apple puree and grilled sea bass with fennel and leek. We also enjoyed a delightful cheeseboard including some locally produced cheeses and followed by tiramisu with amaretto jelly. After hours, the bar is a relaxed yet elegant environment to enjoy a few post dinner drinks and the staff manage to convey a genuine sense of interest in conversing with guests.
Staying over is a real treat and the rooms reflect nicely the notion that you are somewhere unique and special whilst being comfortable and well appointed. One of our bedrooms featured a round bathroom in the turret of the mansion with a huge rainmaker shower and views from the bedroom looked over the grounds and interesting rooftop facets.
After a hearty full English breakfast, a stroll around the grounds was a must. As we had eaten early the mist was just starting to lift and reveal the grounds during the daytime. Another of the wonderful features at The Elvetham is a perfectly manicured avenue of yew trees leading away from the house, beyond a daffodil field and to a secluded summer house bearing the initials and effigy of a former family member of the house.
One of the most remarkable features though is the spectacular winding staircase which in the daytime basks in golden and purple light flooding in from the large original stained windows. Carved wooden gargoyles and dragons perch on the banisters silently watching the festivities below. A quick cab ride later and we were on a train back to London, entirely happy with our stay and more than a little sad to be leaving.
Simply put we couldn’t imagine finding a finer setting for a true English countryside wedding.