As we knuckle down into the colder months, ’tis the season of lining our bellies and feasting over leisurely lunches and hearty suppers. These seven UK hotel restaurants are worth putting in the extra mileage for.
For those seeking a culinary adventure this winter you may be surprised to discover that some of the country’s best restaurants are hiding in plain sight; within glossy hotel pads and well-known country piles. Gourmands, rejoice: these are seven of the best UK hotel restaurants – all of which welcome visitors, even if you aren’t staying the night.
The Packing Edit
Grace & Savour, Hampton Manor
Seemingly a world away from the bustle of city life, Hampton Manor presides within a bucolic estate a stone’s throw from Birmingham. Nestled within the walled kitchen gardens sits Grace & Savour, the hotel’s sleek farm-to-table restaurant led by chef David Taylor and partner Anette. Diners indulge in experimental 15-course tasting menus within slick, minimalist surrounds: expect plenty of polished concrete and gleaming crittal doors with views onto the herb patches beyond. Dishes are seasonally informed, utilising produce grown in the gardens in their entirety and cooked at the open pass with heaps of theatrical flair – it’s no wonder that the restaurant was awarded its Michelin star within a year of opening. Staying for the evening? Bed down in one of the adjoining garden bedrooms, decked out in earthy colours and woody accents.
Le Manoir au Quat'Saisons, A Belmond Hotel
A pilgrimage to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is a must for any self-proclaimed foodie. Raymond Blanc’s iconic restaurant earned its two Michelin stars almost forty years ago – and incredibly, has retained them ever since. Encompassing manicured gardens well worth a pootle, and a lavender-clad country house hotel, Belmond’s Oxfordshire idyll provides a perfectly fairytale setting, whether you’re staying the night or have journeyed over for lunch or dinner – and many really do make the trip here just to eat. Guests are serenaded with live music and cocktails in the drawing room before being led through to the restaurant for the main event: refrain from demolishing the bread basket, and save your stomach for the exquisite tasting menu, which changes with the seasons, and blends British produce with plenty of French finesse.
The Ox Barn, Thyme
Cocooned within Thyme’s hushed haven of honey-coloured cottages, the majestic Ox Barn restaurant presides over the hotel’s rose gardens, beckoning visitors from all over the Cotswolds inside its shiny, shimmering surrounds. You’ll discover a stunning, converted barn within, where shaggy throws and marble surfaces reign supreme: guests strew themselves across velvet banquettes, and feast on comforting suppers underneath the vaulted ceiling. Helmed by chef Charlie Hibbert, the team whips up elegant but hearty dishes at the open pass. Expect modern British cooking with an Italian influence: warming suppers include roast pork belly, and lemon sole swimming in brown butter sauce – make sure to save some room for dessert though, as the almond tart is not to be missed.
Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall
Cradling the cusp of the Yorkshire Dales, Shaun Rankin’s eponymous restaurant is housed within the confines of glitzy Grantley Hall. Framed by oil paintings and glittering chandeliers, the regal dining room sets very high expectations for the 10-course tasting menu. Acting as a love letter to the Yorkshire countryside, the restaurant’s signature ‘Taste of Home’ menu proudly utilises British produce only, much of which is grown across the hotel estate – it’s not uncommon to discover plants and herbs that were foraged that very morning gracing your plate. Crowd-pleasers include the savoury cruffin (drowned in truffle shavings and pecorino), and the delicate blackberry soufflé. The finishing touch? After dinner, guests are led out to the adjoining drawing room, and plied with treats from the show-stopping petit fours trolley.
Marle, Heckfield Place
Led by Skye Gyngell, Heckfield Place’s green Michelin-starred restaurant, Marle, is the beating hub of this Hampshire country pile, serving breakfast through to dinner every day. Expect an elegant melange of glossy marble, wooden accents, and greenery, with diners awarded sweeping views onto the surrounding woodland and lakes beyond. Dishes are fresh and unfussy, championing produce grown onsite, with simple preparation involved to allow the ingredients to truly sing. Expect lots of Gyngell signatures on the menu: handmade pastas, vegetable-based dishes, and creamy mousses to finish.
The Botanical Rooms, The Newt
Renowned for its food as much as it is for its perfectly pruned gardens, The Newt in Somerset boasts three excellent restaurants across its sprawling estate. Foodies should head to The Botanical Rooms, the hotel’s crowning jewel, for its fine dining offering: housed inside the toffee-hued Hadspen House, guests dine on elegant dishes within a sleek, greenhouse-like space. Head chef Matt Heeley has concocted a menu that encompasses much of the produce grown, cured, and salted on site: tuck into vegetables plucked from the estate’s gardens, alongside hand-cured meats and creamy, freshly-churned ice creams.
Forge, Middleton Lodge
Head north to Middleton Lodge’s rambling North Yorkshire estate to visit Forge, the hotel’s intriguing fine dining concept. Led by an ‘estate to plate’ ethos, the restaurant’s six and ten-course tasting menus are inspired by the surrounding landscape, with most of the produce sourced from within the 200-acre grounds or supplied by local farmers. Head chef Jake Jones insists on cooking with the seasons and honouring traditional farming techniques in a bid to make the restaurant as sustainable as possible. Dishes are served within a rustic, candlelit setting: the exposed brick walls and subdued lighting mirrors the laidback luxe vibe you’ll find across the hotel’s cosy bedrooms.
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