We drove along the winding lanes across the rugged Northamptonshire countryside and arrived at Fawsley Hall just as the light began to fade.

The impressive Tudor building was a welcoming sight and we scrambled out of the wintry wind into the warmth of the grand hall which was softly lit by dozens of large cathedral candles.

The temple-shaped beamed ceiling of the hall and the tall Tudor windows gave an opulent feel to the place and we slumped down on one of the squashy sofas for a well deserved cup of tea. On the walls hung renaissance paintings and antique furniture was thoughtfully positioned around the room.

The place had all the essence of Henry Vlll and William Shakespeare's time. And the creaking uneven floorboards made you feel as if Agatha Christie was going to walk in with the murder weapon at any moment.

We felt so divorced from the 21st century that a pile of traditional board games seemed to be just the right thing to do to while away the time before we went to dinner.

Dinner was served in the Equilibrium restaurant. In the heyday of the house - when politicians and royalty visited - this was the kitchen with flank stone flooring, stone wall and beams, and the original open fireplace which was now just an alcove still had the blackened brick from when it was a working fireplace where they would have spit roasted a boar.

We perused the rather unusual menu created by head chef Nigel Godwin. Even the food was in keeping with the surrounding with partridge, pigeon and 40-day dry aged beef was on the menu. I went for pumpkin soup with quails egg followed by monkfish with frogs legs, alsace jelly and celeriac which was totally delicious and could not be faulted. The combination of traditional ingredients with a modern twist totally complemented the whole spectacle of the place.

But the real showpiece of the eating extravaganza was when the waiter approached our table with a champagne cooler and plumes of white freezing smoke bellowed from it. Inside was a cold foam (espuma) at a temperature of minus 230 degrees into which he dipped mint and camomile on a spoon, this instantly froze and I placed it on my tongue - quite a spectacle to cleanse the palate, but so much more fun than the traditional sorbet.

Our china blue bedroom just added to the romance of the period, with a four poster bed in the middle and from the window we could look out onto the hills and rugged setting.

Breakfast was buffet style and served in the less formal dining room Bess Brasserie. In the summer, the courtyard is a another place where you can eat and enjoy a leisurely drink.

Fawsley Hall is an ideal place for weddings and corporate events with the re-opening of the recently restored Knightley Court. A Georgian grade 1 listed stable block which is away from the main hotel.

The next morning we decided to explore the countryside, and with the weather on our side we donned our boots and headed for the hills for good long walk. Other guests decided to head off to Silverstone, Warwick Castle and Althorp House - all of which are just a stone's throw away.

Fawsley Hall is conveniently close to the M1 an M40 For further information and prices call 01327 892000 click onto www.fawsleyhall.co,