I was in Evesham in Worcestershire last night, and decided to dine with a group of colleagues at the Evesham Hotel. I'd heard of the Evesham from several friends of mine, and remembered it as the hotel where the room keys were attached to teddy bears.
We arrived and ordered some drinks at the bar, with its built in bookshelf full of books with fascinating titles such as "Crap Jobs", "Crap Teams" and "How to Label a Goat". One of my colleagues ordered a currently trendy cider - "why on earth would you want that?" said owner John Jenkinson, resplendent in an orange shirt with a toy chimpanzee hanging round his neck like a tie. "It's completely tasteless. Would you like some real cider?"
We ordered our meals from at least six different menus placed before us - specials, vegetarian, "boring but very tasty" and so on. And when we asked for the wine list, the wine waiter brought along five enormous photo albums, each dedicated to a different set of wines from over seven hundred vintages which the Evesham carry at any one time in their cellars.
The food was absolutely magnificent - the "Carribbean Creams" dessert was truly an out-of-body experience. Over coffee, our waiter (who joined the Evesham for a summer gap seven years ago!) showed us around. The swimming pool was packed with kids toys, Punch and Judy shy, real "What the Butler saw" machine and red telephone box complete with Superman costume on a hangar. The Tudor Room, one of the many themed rooms - I won't ruin the surprise by describing it! - and on the way back to the bar (and perhaps most exclusively!) the wine cellars, heaving to the rafters with thousands of bottles of wonderful wine.
We came away with a "liqueur list" - itself a hundred and seventy six pages long - and a mental note that I have to come back here again - and again. The Evesham Hotel (http://www.zen37209.zen.co.uk/) is truly a little bit of magic.