You don’t need to be a vicar to love the bubbling hot tub, the pool table and the all-round party potential of The Vicars Retreat. Or even to appreciate the Gothic arched glazing. Perched on the edge of the Peaks in Leek, The Vicars Retreat is sprawling, spacious, contemporary and ready to rock.
Of course, everything’s not all hen posses and parties here. It’s perfect for walkers and bikers as a launchpad for the Peak District, Alton Towers is just a rollercoaster ride away and, if you happen to find yourself at one of the rather-exclusive local wedding venues, we’ve eight sumptuous bedrooms in which to recover.
As for the great indoors, there’s a grand stage for celebrations, reunions and general recreation, decked with chandeliers, heavy-leather sofas, sash windows and oak panels. Pot some pool balls. Bathe in copper rolltops. Binge a box set in the drawing room. Eat in the formal dining room with garden views. Pass the port, vicar.
Out there on the sprawling lawn, you can worship the sun, clack the croquet balls around, or get the gas barbie going. Surrounded by high trees and high walls, this is a private as private gets. Dine on the terrace around the table for 18. Then draw lots for the right to bubble and boil in the covered seven-seat hydrotherapy pool.
Families, friends and hens want a dash of wow these days. You’ll find it here. Beyond the sandstone, the wisteria and the beautiful craftsmanship, and behind the solid oak door gifted by the Bishop of Lichfield in 1714, you’re immediately drawn in by the black-and-white Italian-marbled floor.
The fun begins in the games room, carefully restored to its colonial-style glory. Stags’ heads, oak panels, travellers’ cases, leather chairs and the wooden chandelier suggest a gentlemen’s club, but ladies are more than welcome. Pick a cue from the rack and while away a few evening hours over the pool table. Or just tune in to the TV.
The drawing room’s spacious, contemporary and bright and the garden beckons beyond. Beneath the chandelier, Chesterfields sit ready and waiting for gin in your jim-jams, and banter and box sets on the 52” smart TV with Netflix, BT and BT Sport. You’ve another smart TV in the living room. Stream superfast on the 78Mbit/s BT wifi.
Cook like the Cookie Monster on the two fan ovens with eight gas burners. Satisfy the midnight munchies with the toaster. Eat beneath the chandelier in the dining room around a table built for 16. Pass the Pellegrino and Prosecco. Dump it all in the dishwasher when you’re done.
Breakfast over croissants and cafetiere coffee on the chunky country-kitchen table with logs ablaze, or eat outdoors on the terrace table, so long that it needs a postcode for each end. Throw some steaks on the gas barbie and uncork some al-fresco joy. When you’re done, the seven-seat hydrotherapy pool awaits.
Tuck into chargrilled pork loin steak or mushroom and leek stroganoff at The Reform Inn at Thorncliff. Or will it be chicken in barbecue sauce on a Greek flatbread or tuna steak at The Lazy Trout, all washed down with Lazy Stout or a Bakewell gin with almonds and cherries? Be spoilt for choice and drop in to The Picturedrome in Macclesfield with its range of eateries and bars in a food hall setting.
Head to So Thai for chicken with a batter-fried breast sliced and served with a selection of fruit and vegetables, to Mehek for curries and kebabs, or Alberto’s Kitchen for pizza and pasta. Get piping-hot fish and chips at Tony’s, cheap eats at No.5 Café, or anything from tea in a teapot with caramel crunch to keg beer at Spout Brew House, finish up with a Belgian beer at nearby Den Engel.
Sleeping 16 in eight delicious bedrooms, The Vicars Retreat is as comfy and cosy for a brood of hens as it is for a flock of family and friends. Celebrate hard then bathe in freestanding copper baths and snooze like a pro on deep and dreamy mattresses.
The Venus Suite offers a superking bed or twins thanks to zip-and-link. The full en-suite comes with dressing room, double-ended rolltop copper bateau bath double rain-shower and double sinks. Next up, The Wardle provides a kingsize four-poster with en-suite rain-shower over the bath.
The Rudyard is a kingsize with en-suite rain-shower over the bath, while The Roaches offers a superking (or zip-and-link twins) with en-suite. There’s a rain-shower cubicle and separate bath. The Cloud and The Moorlands are en-suite superkings with zip-and-link that offer rain-shower cubicles and separate baths.
The final two bedrooms share a bathroom. The Dovedale is a superking with zip-and-link, while the Tittesworth sleeps three in a kingsize and single. The bathroom offers a rain-shower cubicle and separate, large, double-ended bath.
Feeling crafty? The Threshing Barn offers not only several crafting courses but also yarns and fabrics, and their very own sausages and meats. Or maybe transform your health and life with a couple of hours at Juicier Life: learn all about their juice- and soup-based weight-loss plan.
Get outdoors at Trials Day, with top-notch tuition at a motorbike trials centre, or The Peak Climbing School, providing rock climbing and mountaineering courses and activity days for all abilities. Or canoe, kayak or try to stand up on that paddleboard at Tittesworth Water Sports and Activity Centre.
Pick from delightfully different spa experiences at Three Horseshoes, including the Farmers’ Sauna, recreating an Alpine Brechel cabin, and the Beach Hut, a 25-minute warm-sand experience that takes you from darkness to sunrise to peak sunshine and then sunset. Relaxing music and essential oils complete the holiday experience. Visit the historical thermal spa at The Buxton Crescent Hotel for the chance to relax and unwind in pure unadulterated luxury. Or call on Jasmin Olivia and treat yourselves to private treatments and pampering at the house.
Take a day tour of the Peak District with local expert Diane Carter. Fill a few holes at Leek Golf Course. Part with cash at Misco’s Chocolates, an artisan chocolatier shop packed with freshly made fresh cream chocolates and truffles. Cap the day with craft beers or cocktails at Beyond the Pale. With three year-round wedding venues (The Ashes Barns, Heaton House Farm, & Dunwood Hall) on the doorstep, The Vicars Retreat is the perfect location for a bridal party celebration.