Le Manoir is Raymond Blanc’s Cotswolds outpost. With its two Michelin-starred restaurant and absurdly beautiful grounds, it’s the perfect getaway for discerning Londoners. There are lavender and vegetable gardens, herb gardens, an Asian garden for Oriental plants, a beautiful and calming Japanese garden, and best of all, several stunning untouched 15th century stone-edged ponds.
Le Manoir is all about the food. A gastronome’s heaven, a foodie’s paradise, an anorexic’s anathema.
The working vegetable and herb gardens provide the kitchen with ultra-fresh, totally organic produce. It’s gratifying to stroll through the rows of soil and bulbs knowing they’ll soon be transformed into a Michelin-starred chef-d’oeuvre.
Dinner consisted of 12 courses; the nine-course tasting menu plus three tasters from the main menu. The real high point was the roasted loin of Shropshire venison with Alsace bacon, chicory, celeriac and Grand Veneur sauce, and for the Actor, the squab pigeon baked in a salted crust. Although the very literal sommelier was confused by my request to match wines to our courses; bringing a separate glass for each of the 12 courses. Gulp.
This vast banquet was followed up by breakfast in our suite, a selection of fresh juices, eggs royale, Champagne, and an omelette and fruit salad for Mr Man.
We were given the Blanc de Blanc, Le Manoir’s piece de resistance – the crème de la crème of suites. In all my years as a travel writer, I can say with absolute confidence this is the finest suite I’ve inhabited. All the rooms are beautiful, and each has its own character, but the newer Blanc de Blanc and garden suites are on another level. Cream opulence as far as the eye can see. Our suite had a magnificent bathroom with double rainforest showers, wet-room style, a deep and opulent bathtub with a frothing letterbox fountain tap, double basins set in marble, and more space than a W11 apartment. The suite also had three loos, a large cloakroom/walk-in wardrobe, gorgeous sitting and dining room, four-poster in the gilded bedroom, along with its own private garden and pond.
It also came complete with a carafe of fine Madeira wine. Welcome, if awkward in an all-white suite.
Who Goes There?
Le Manoir attracts foodies, families, glam couples on romantic nights away and locals enjoying a celebratory meal. There was a surprisingly wide-range of diners in the restaurant – although the price point dictates that the majority were older. I didn’t see any children, but perhaps this was because we visited during term-time. With such large grounds there’s plenty of space for children to explore.
Le Manoir is a dream setting for a wedding. We saw several florists emerge from a hall laden with wedding bouquets.
Out & About:
The Cotswolds is a mass of charming and quaint villages. Immediately next door to the manor is a magnificent grand and archaic stone church. Great Milton village is as close to untouched Cotswold Idyll as you get. There’s a village shop owned by a very friendly classic car enthusiast. But visiting Le Manoir, I see little reason to leave the grounds.
The Best Thing:
Our suite was magnificent. As was the service. Although dogs aren’t welcome in the hotel grounds, leaving Puppy in a secure kennel as lavish as our suite put my mind at rest.
The calibre of the food is a given. Aside from this, the ultimate high-point was a solitary stroll around the lawns, flower borders, orchards and 15th century ponds. I liked to imagine I was the Lady of the Manor in a period drama. Or a pre-Raphaelite reclining in a Millais painting.
The Worst Thing:
I can’t fault Le Manoir.