Northcote, Hotel and Restaurant

It has to be a pretty special restaurant to convince me to drive 4.5 hours. After a weekend at Nigel Haworth’s countryside retreat in Lancashire, I can confirm that Northcote is worth the journey.


Northcote is located on the edge of the Ribble Valley, nearby to the ruined abbey at Whalley and the spectacular Stonyhurst school. It is a popular area for keen walkers, and hikers who want a real challenge can enjoy the 38 mile Three Peaks of Lancashire. Thanks to the famously British weather, we spent most of our trip relaxing at the hotel and indulging in the award-winning food.


The hotel has 26 rooms spread over two buildings: the Manor House and the Garden Lodge. Each room has a different character, but all have comforting soft furnishings and up-to-date modern amenities. We were staying in a very spacious Garden Lodge room, which was so smart and luxurious it felt almost brand new. The rooms are designed by Jill Holst of Ward Robinson in a grown-up style, our room was quite business-like, with furniture in shades of beige and olive green. The bed was wonderful, huge and indulgent ensuring every guest gets a blissful night’s sleep.


I loved our bathroom which featured a big bathtub for evening soaks and a powerful walk-in shower. The toiletries are provided by Temple Spa, a lovely luxurious beauty brand, which made me think how nice it would be if Northcote had a spa onsite.


A wholesome Lancashire breakfast was served in our room… a feast of brioche bacon buns, fresh fruit and yoghurt and strong coffee and juice. It was immediately obvious that this array of fine food had come from a Michelin starred kitchen… the ingredients were of the finest quality and each dish was presented beautifully. I was particularly impressed with the delicious Greave’s home-cured bacon and the sausages from Farnsworths in Whalley.


The main reason to stay at Northcote is to eat in their renowned restaurant. Chef Patron Nigel Haworth and Executive Chef Lisa Allen are both well-known for their TV appearances on Saturday Kitchen, Masterchef and the Great British Menu. Northcote proudly holds one Michelin star and is often considered as one of the country’s finest hotel restaurants. I was excited to be trying the gastronomic cuisine days after the restaurant had hosted the prestigious Obsession food festival.


There are various menus to choose from, and though we were tempted by the tasting menus, we opted for a more sensible three-courses. There is a choice of seasonal lunch menu (£33.50 for 3 courses and coffee), or the more elaborate a la carte. After speaking to the very well-informed waitress we decided on a few of Nigel’s signature dishes.

To start, the White Beetroot with coconut and white chocolate was a wonderfully healthy and refreshing dish. The subtle earthy flavours of beetroot matched perfectly with the sweet chocolate and the fresh coconut. Orkney Scallop with dashi and seaweed was another light starter, the delicate flavours of the sea blended carefully with the Japanese inspired dashi broth.

To make up for the lack of calories in the starters we went all out with the mains; Wild Venison with liquorice mole and kolhrabi for me, and Beef steak with triple cooked chips for my guest. It was a real treat to indulge in such superior meats. The venison was particularly delicious, cleverly cooked with a hint of spicy aniseed from the liquorice and a crunch from the segments of kolhrabi, a lovely winter cabbage vegetable.


For dessert I convinced the staff to let me try the magical Lemon Meringue Pie, a triumph thanks to it’s Instagrammable appeal. A lifelike cocoa-butter lemon cracks to reveal a beautiful citrus mousse which sits on an assortment of meringue and lemon bits. It was my ideal dessert, vibrant and satisfying yet cleansing for the palate.

The meal was accompanied by unusual and delicious wines from the sommelier. I was pleasantly surprised to see Northcote offer wine in taster 70ml size, so you can try a different wine with each course without needing a lie down at the end of the meal!

While in the area I also highly recommend a pub lunch at The Three Fishes, nearby to the hotel. This friendly gastropub is also owned and overseen by Nigel Haworth and serves up great seasonal food and local drinks. After a long country walk there is nothing better than a hearty Lancashire hotpot, a speciality at the Three Fishes.

More information and book a room or table at Northcote here.

The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester

Many favour the Cotswolds as their favourite part of Britain and at this time of year the area is perfect for a cosy winter weekend away. For Londoners, Cirencester is an ideal town to stay in, small and quaint but with enough shops and restaurant to entertain an urbanite.

The Cotswolds

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to spend a night at the Kings Head Hotel in Cirencester. Despite spending much of my childhood with my cousins in Gloucestershire, I had completely forgotten how charming this part of Britain is, especially during the festive season. The local pubs have their fires blazing, hearty local meat is available on every restaurant menu and long country walks offer scenic panoramic winter views.

The Kings HeadKings Head Hotel

The stylish Kings Head Hotel was once a coaching inn and the building has hundreds of years of history. The hotel is located in the central marketplace square, surrounded by boutique shops and cafes. Inside, the lobby is instantly welcoming with comfy sofas and dimmed lighting. There are 45 luxurious bedrooms of varying sizes, each with it’s own character.

The Kings Head reopened in 2014 after a transformative renovation, every detail feels thoughtful and very much suits the countryside setting. My suite was spacious and plush with a giant bed, and a modern high-tech bathroom. I slept wonderfully well and woke feeling refreshed and ready for a long countryside walk.

Kings Head HotelKings Head Hotel

The hotel boasts a great bistro downstairs serving hearty classics like steak and chips and delicious seasonal desserts. Using the best British produce the food is simple but well executed, exactly what you want from a winter meal in the Cotswolds.

Kings Head HotelKings Head Hotel

Breakfast is also served in a restaurant, an array of continental treats is served alongside a la carte dishes to order. We indulged with full bacon and eggs, coffee, juice, fruit and pasties… silence fell over the table as we gobbled up the feast.

Whilst staying at the Kings Head do not miss a trip to their unassuming but heavenly spa. Found on the lower floor, it is the perfect retreat for weary travellers. I had a completely amazing full body MONU massage here, which soothed my sore muscles and eased my niggling aches. After the treatment you can chill out in the Relaxation Room and there is also a thermal suite for guest use.


Cirencester is a lovely town to explore on foot, pick up gifts in the quaint shops or go for a bracing walk in the beautiful Cirencester Park. I wandered around for hours with a takeaway coffee in hand (try Cotswold Artisan Coffee) picking out fun Christmas presents for family and friends.

Shootingpub lunch

If you are spending a few days in Gloucestershire, I recommend trying your hand at clay pigeon shooting at Ian Coley Sporting (group shooting lessons from £49 per person) before rewarding yourself with a hearty pub lunch at The Bell at Sapperton nearby.

Rooms at the Kings Head start from £140 B&B, more information and book here.

Whatley Manor

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.

Whatley ManorWhatley Manor

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.

Whatley ManorWhatley ManorWhatley Manor

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.

Whatley ManorWhatley Manor

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.

Whatley ManorWhatley ManorWhatley Manor

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.

Whatley ManorWhatley Manor

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.

Whatley Manor

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.