Words Hannah Hopkins
Owned by celebrated chef Raymond Blanc, Le Manoir is the ultimate gastronomic staycation in the UK. It has won countless awards – from being named best UK and European Hotel 2016 by The Times to Favourite UK Hotel 2016 from TripAdvisor. With faultless service and Michelin-starred food it’s not hard to see why. Set in a grand, old house in a small, secluded village, it nails old-fashioned luxury. It offers an ideal respite from hectic London life.
All 32 of the rooms are individually designed with decor inspired by Blanc’s French heritage. Some are in the house itself, but our favourites were the Garden Suites. They sit just down the path from the main building. Not only are they the largest but they have their own small but serene gardens, too. Before dinner, take time to stroll the expansive kitchen gardens. They provide all of the veg and herbs served in the restaurant.
Expect full-on gourmet grandeur. Raymond Blanc’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant is headed up by executive chef Gary Jones. He has created a celebrated menu of modern French dishes. Go all-out by opting for the five or seven-course tasting menus. It can be paired with wine chosen by the sommelier. Just make sure you’re quick – there are only 32 tables and they can get booked up three months in advance. Dinner kicks off in the hotel lounge, where over a glass of Brut and moreish canapes you can survey the menu. Standout dishes include risotto of wild mushrooms with truffle cream and roasted fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef. Make sure to save room also for the melt-in-the-mouth pear tarte tatin.
WHAT TO DO
Based in the beautiful green Chiltern hills, there are plenty of options for outdoorsy types. Hikers and bikers are well catered for. The hotel team can also arrange golf, fishing, riding and shooting if you fancy it. Guests can also visit nearby Blenheim Palace, only eight miles away. Here you can tour state rooms and private apartments of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.
Rooms from £556 per night, belmond.com