Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire

'It was an old-fashioned touch that most impressed us in our deluxe junior suite: a ready-laid fire'

LOCATION: The hotel is in the beautiful village of Great Milton in Oxfordshire.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: We arrived in the dark, which actually made the approach to the 15th-century manor house a little more exciting. From the moment we walked in, everyone was extremely helpful and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. The room was as beautiful as one would expect from a hotel with such a fine reputation. We expected the beds to be incredible, the decor exquisite and the bathrooms beautiful, and they were. But oddly enough, it was an old-fashioned touch that most impressed us in our deluxe junior suite: a ready-laid fire.

This is not something you see in modern hotels, and lighting it minutes after arrival felt like serious luxury.

THE FACTS: Raymond Blanc created Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in 1984, andit’s the only hotel restaurant to haveheld two Michelin stars for more than 30 years. There are 32 rooms and suites, all different. Four rooms in particular are quite extraordinary: Blanc de Blanc, Lace, L’Orangerie and Jade. If your celebrating a special occasion, these rooms are a perfect excuse to splash out, and they’re certainly worth it.

A GOOD BASE FOR: Once you arrive in this beautiful corner of Oxfordshire, there’s little reason to leave the grounds. Lawns, flowers, a water garden and orchards (there are 11 garden spaces to explore) provide plenty of scope for great walks. The hotel offers daily tours if you’d like to learn more about the flora. You can also walk around the vegetable and herb gardens, which is where the incredibly fresh produce served in the restaurantis grown. It supplies an astonishing 90 types of vegetables to the kitchen from late spring to autumn. For those keen to pick up a few culinary tricks, there is the on-site Raymond Blanc Cookery School. But if the trip is all about relaxation, then head to the spa. The hotel is well set up for families too, with outdoor games such as boules and croquet, children’s bathrobes, bicycles and babysitting services, plus delicious child-friendly menus.

WOW: The food was truly incredible and the service the best we had ever had. The knowledge levels of the restaurant staff added to our enjoyment. Whether you choose a five-course lunch or dinner, seven- course lunch or dinner, à la carte or the vegetarian menu, a true treat is in store.

EMMA BLACK 

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