Even if you love London as much as I do, you’ll agree that for us over-worked capital dwellers it’s also all about retreating to where you can actually see the stars and (if you’re as lucky as we were with the weather last weekend) bask in the sunshine sipping cold fizzy (local) cider.
And if cider is on your weekend agenda then the West Country’s the place to go – And I really couldn’t recommend higher a trip (that feels like you’re going back in time) to the postcard pretty Bradford upon Avon – particularly to stay at the Old Manor Hotel (http://www.oldmanorhotel.com/)http://www.oldmanorhotel.com/milking-parlour-restaurant-bar-lounge/sample-dinner-menu/) -all just begging to be explored.
You get the impression that this 500-year home is luxuriously cosy in the winter, ideal for curling up in an intricate upholstered arm chair (all purposefully mismatched) in front of one of the hotels large fire places; but for me, the hotel comes into it’s own in the sunshine.
Boasting 21 rooms across the main house and in the romantically refurbished stables, each room has been decorated to include it’s own little quirks, making up to an impressive collection of antiques throughout (collected and selected by Lucy Hopkins who’s eye for detail and design really is enviable to any proud home-maker or most established hotelier!)
The stunning fabrics used in each of the cosy arm chairs throughout the hotel’s communal areas (drawing rooms, 150-capacity green house marquee-with bar! And dining room) gave me almost as much pleasure as the volume of posies placed in perfectly mismatched vintage vases splashing colour and life around the home.
Very countryside. Very chic. Very much dominating my photos!
If you want to play lady and lord of the manor over your stay, and your relaxing well-lit bedroom (with 6ft wide bed!), drawing room, gardens and restaurant aren’t enough to satisfy; there is also a dimly lit bar reminiscent of a Murdoch whisky bar with vintage booze plaques spanning the wall and entertaining your eye as you enjoy a pre dinner drink or retire for a night cap… A perfect addition to the hotel offering.
As much as you want to pretend you’re playing The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and run riot through the manor- you’d be missing a trick to not spend ample time in the grounds, which includes a lawn with picnic benches over looking fields, floral lined front and back garden providing a views for all of the bedrooms, including the refurbished stables at the back the house, a more wild green space to the rear of the grounds (soon to be used for pigs).
And last but not least, a truly lovingly curated vegetable garden with smoking house and bee hives!…As a foodie with full appreciation for British provenance and self-sufficiency, this area of the grounds, to which we were treated to a guided tour by the hotel’s smart, well-informed manager and talented, expert chef, was my favourite.
Effortlessly achieving what London tried to emulate with teeny pop up allotments across the capital, the vegetable garden grows vivid purple beetroot (fave veggie so this delighted me!) three types of kale (veggie-du-jour), garlic, carrots, potatoes..you name it! So you know that what you’re eating couldn’t be fresher, and at the very least is locally sourced, and handled with great care from field to fork.
The garden has a smoking house too! Peeking inside I spotted two huge salmon, smoking peacefully, building anticipation ahead of the next morning’s smoked salmon breakie. I’d never seen a smoking house before so it was interesting to see-(and smell!!) the local bacon and bunch of chillies fuming away.
Doing their bit to not only satisfy their guest’s appetites, but for ecology as well, we were delighted to spot three bee hives sheltered under a willow tree. As a honey connoisseur (Yup I know my Orange Blossom from my Clover) and a champion for the plight of the British honey bee, there’s something incredibly charming about a country hotel able to produce and flavour its own honey, as well as safe guarding our bees from extinction.
Reopened in July 2013, The Old Manor Hotel is found just a short drive away from beautiful Bradford Upon Avon and Bath Spa.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book as being part of the Abbess of Glastonbury’s estate, the present Manor House was originally built in classic Queen Anne style before being upgraded in the 17th century. Tudor & Lucy Hopkins purchased the hotel in July 2013, and are restoring the hotel back to its former glory. The emphasis is on home comforts and relaxation, with wonderful food and hospitality.
During our stay we enjoyed an amazing 5 course meal on the Saturday night and a delicious farm house breakfast on Sunday morning but these deserve their own separate posts to come later this week…