A lavender-lined footpath paves the way to Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, a Belmond Hotel – the celebrated honey-hued manor house in Great Milton.
Created by chef-patron Raymond Blanc in 1984, Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, a Belmond Hotel brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the English countryside. A foodie’s Eden, within its first year of opening Le Manoir received two Michelin stars, and, has held them ever since.
The Packing Edit
Seasonality leads the way here.
Retire to one of the manor house’s 32 bedrooms, individually designed by Emily Todhunter. Rooms draw inspiration from Raymond’s travels, and with six categories to choose from – spanning deluxe rooms to garden one-bedroom suites – each is unique. Some rooms are more dramatic than others, but understated luxury and high levels of comfort and cosiness take priority across the board. Our favourites room: the serene L’Orangerie, complete with four-poster bed, heated floors, and an XL marble bath; and Blanc de Blanc, an eco-friendly space decorated solely in (as the name hints) all white. Provence, another garden suite, feels particularly homey, combining exposed brick, traditional florals, and wrought iron touches. Handmade chocolates and a fruit plate from the neighbouring garden on arrival, plus a turndown service which includes a bottle of pillow mist, named ‘Nights in Provence’, are thoughtful touches that go a long way. Checkout is 11.30AM.
The Little Extras
The hotel is home to The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, one of the UK’s most acclaimed cooking schools – where better to spruce up on your chef skills than here? Their courses – spanning half-day sessions to residential programmes – are suitable for all experience levels.
The Food + Drink
Vegetable and herb gardens provide the kitchen with ultra-fresh, organic produce. With an emphasis on provenance, seasonality and locally sourced ingredients form the basis of the six or seven course menu, for lunch or dinner respectively.
Dinner is a particularly special affair, and, FYI, is also available for non-resident guests. Start with a drink in the drawing room before heading to your table – their wine list is extensive (the restaurant’s cellar stocks a French-dominated list of over 1,000 wines) but they also have a great selection of cocktails, as well as no and low alcohol options. Food menus change regularly and tend to include several of Blanc’s moreish heritage specialities as well as lighter dishes. Highlights from our meal included: the white asparagus with hens egg and the roast duck with blood orange, cinnamon, and chicory. After a sumptuous dessert, recline in the comfort of the lounge with a selection of teas and coffees with petit fours.
Service is sophisticated, yet warm, whilst interiors are understated – choose to dine in the conservatory overlooking manicured gardens or the dining room with exposed beams. Breakfast consists of a simple continental buffet – no petit déjeuner is complete without viennoiseries and homemade preserves – and hot dishes – the avocado toast is a lovely, light option, as is the smoked halibut with poached egg, spinach, and mustard seed sauce.
The To-Do List
Take to the gardens, wandering along the 15th-century pond before venturing over a bridge and into the Japanese Garden. Next, make tracks for the kitchen garden, passing various sculptures en route. After your amble about, retreat to the lounge area – complete with wood-beamed ceilings, low-levels of chintz (reserved for the cushions, mainly), flagstone floors, and fireplaces – to enjoy copious cups of Verdana tea and decadent wedges of zingy lemon cake.
For a change of scene, Oxford and Blenheim Palace are both within easy driving distance.