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Jo Whiley hosts a festival like no other at stately home Studley Castle


THE look on my wife’s face was a picture as I asked: “Fancy coming to a festival hosted by Jo Whiley?”

I could almost see the images whizzing round her head of hapless music lovers falling face first in rivers of mud before checking out the delights of the portaloos.

Jo Whiley on the decks at Studley Castle for WarnerFest2019

But this wasn’t Glastonbury we were talking about, this was WarnerFest2019 which was being staged in the spectacular Studley Castle.

Warner Leisure has spent £50million revamping this stunning venue in the Warwickshire countryside, creating the latest jewel in their 14-strong hotel collection.

And, to celebrate, Ms Whiley was hosting solo singers, bands and working the decks in the Castle’s swish new indoor entertainment centre which has table seating for 450 allowing you to eat, drink and dance to your heart’s content.

There was an extra bonus too — no children allowed!

Guests enjoy the adults-only festival in the Warwickshire countryside
Tim Young

Warner Leisure hotels managing director, Simon Thompson, explained: “We cater for a lot of empty nesters who want to relax and recharge the batteries.

“Many only have time for a short break and we want to give them the best experience they can have, even if they’re only away for a couple of days.”

Warner specialise in converting historic properties, making the most of the beautiful countryside inland providing adults-only breaks.

The drive into Studley Castle sets the mood, especially when you arrive in early evening and the lights come into view at the end of the driveway.

The stunning venue is a £50million-refurb of a stately home
Tim Young

You walk through the grandeur of the castle entrance, past the hotel’s 30-seater cinema which stages old classics and modern blockbusters, through to the modern bar and restaurants with a panoramic view over the rolling fields.

There is a newly-built spa with lovely indoor pool, gym and treatment rooms where, my wife informed me, they can work wonders with your toenails or any other part of your body which you may feel needs attention.

A 210-bedroom wing has been tastefully built on to the side of the castle with bedrooms incorporating all mod-cons including, in our case, a balcony looking down on the terrace and across to the countryside.

Rooms feature fluffy bathrobes and toiletries from the Temple Spa as well as tea tray with fresh milk and biscuits and a mini fridge with mineral water. For a real treat, splash out on one of the fabulous rooms in the original castle itself.

The newly built spa with indoor pool, gym and treatment rooms

GO: STUDLEY CASTLE

TWO-NIGHT B&B breaks start from £179pp.

A two-night B&B stay from August 12 – including live music from The Shires – is from £219pp.

All breaks include access to the Stables Spa facilities and onsite activities and entertainment.

See warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/hotels/studley-castle-hotel

You can splash out on one of the fabulous rooms in the original castle itself

All individually designed, they have everything from roomy lounges to roll-top baths tucked into the castle turrets. You can eat in either the a la carte restaurant, where service is to your table, or in the entertainment venue which is self-service and offers a range suitable for the most discerning of palates.

For fun you can try laser clay shooting, have a go on the rifle range, take a bike out round the villages, or even sample a relaxing game of croquet.

But this is not an all-inclusive. You can opt for B&B or dinner and B&B when you stay, but Warner want you to get out and experience what the locality has to offer.

Mr Thompson added: “If people want to stay on site that’s great, but we also like to showcase the area and from here you can visit places such as the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Warwick Castle. We also do distillery and brewery tours.

Eat in the a la carte restaurant or in the entertainment venue

“We listen to what our guests like and what they don’t like and we’re always learning.

“That’s why we offer more choice now with short breaks in mid-week as well and provide the entertainment they want.”

So back to the music and, as she introduced her guests, Jo Whiley revealed how she once came across a young backing-singer at a similar event and thought her rather good. Her name? Adele.

She may have discovered another star in Lisa Canny, a harp-playing folk and rock singer whose unique performance brought the house down.


The personable Ms Whiley properly joined in while playing her DJ set, happily posing for photos and taking part in a battle of the high leg-kicks while the speakers belted out Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York.

For Jo it was then off to prepare for the Glastonbury festival for which she has become synonymous.

My wife couldn’t have been less envious. She only had thoughts for a drink in the bar, a fluffy dressing gown and a very comfy bed.

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