As the leaves gently begin falling off the trees and the chill of winter sets in, I start dreaming about holidays and getting away from the city. There is something idyllic about the Autumn and Winter seasons in the English countryside, perhaps it’s the roaring fires and the pub lunches after long muddy walks. Whatley Manor, a beautifully restored 18th century house in the Cotswolds, surrounded by 12 acres of gardens, is the perfect place to escape to for a winter weekend getaway.
We were lucky to visit Whatley in beautiful weather, with rainbow leaves on the trees and blue skies in every direction. The manor house has a long and interesting history, passing through different families, before becoming a hotel in 1987. This 5-star establishment now operates as a peaceful and welcoming retreat, with a two Michelin starred restaurant and an amazing spa (complete with hydrotherapy pools) all on site.
We arrived early afternoon and immediately went out to explore the exquisite gardens. You can wander through the wild flower meadows and woodland or admire the view from the Loggia Garden. We spotted some pumpkins in the greenhouses, ready for the Halloween celebrations.
There are 23 bedrooms (including 8 suites) at Whatley Manor, each decorated in an individual style. We were in Room 11 which was decorated with stylish tartan wallpaper and soft velvet furnishings. The grand, old-fashioned theme suits the character of the building and feels lovely and cosy. Our bedroom was spacious with an extremely comfortable king-sized bed and a small sitting room. The bathroom was fully equipped with a large bath, shower, L’Occitane toiletries and plenty of plush towels.
There are two restaurants at the hotel, the brasserie, Le Mazot and the two Michelin starred Dining Room. I felt extremely privileged to be sampling chef Martin Burge’s food in the Dining Room, and the meal and service were exemplary.
Guests are invited to choose from one of the three tasting menus which each offer seven courses of the finest seasonal flavours and ingredients. I can highly recommend the Signature Menu which showcases Martin’s most popular dishes, such as Pan Fried Scallop with caramelised eel, confit leek and pickled cockles. Other favourites for us included the refined and delicious Foie gras and truffle press, and the bold and brilliant Fillet of beef with braised oxtail, celeriac and parsley puree.
The cheese course was another highlight, a magnificent trolley slid up beside our table, topped with an array of French and British cheeses, the waiter had an extraordinary wealth of knowledge about each variety, which helped me choose the perfect plate of cheeses. Each course was paired with a unique wine, thanks to the restaurant sommelier, Andrea Domenicucci.
I was feeling blissfully relaxed already, but I couldn’t leave Whatley without experiencing the renowned spa. I was amazed to discover the variety of special rooms and features, from thermal cabins to salt scrub showers. The spa menu offers a range of treatments, using luxury brands including Natura Bisse and Ila. I had a wonderful Natura Bisse D-Stress face and body treatment which relaxed and recharged my entire body from head to toe. My therapist, Violaine, used the Oxygen line of products to nourish and hydrate my face, and moisturising oil to soothe my back.
The next morning we woke to the sound of birds in the trees, after a long and dreamy sleep. We didn’t need much breakfast, following our feast in the Dining Room the night before, but couldn’t resist picking up a few healthy treats from the continental buffet.
Whatley Manor is a fairytale escape located in the beautiful British countryside, with unbeatable facilities and genuine staff… there are so many reasons to come back to this magical manor.
More information and book a stay at Whatley Manor here.