Monday, 23 January 2012

The Perfect Romantic Retreat - Manor House Hotel

Ladies, a word of advice for you here...if you have been run ragged since Christmas and are in desperate need of a romantic retreat (aren't we all?), then leave this page open for your hubby / boyfriend to see. This hotel would make THE PERFECT Valentine's Day pressie. It is gorgeous!

manor house hotel

A few days after Christmas, hubby and I decided we would go off on a winter getaway.  Just the two of us, with nothing or no one (read: puppy) to disturb us.

We ummed and ahhed for ages, trying to decide where to go.  Did we want to escape to Rome and soak up some much-needed sun, sample the Craic in Dublin, or stay in England and blow the cobwebs away?

Eventually, we settled on England. Or, to be precise, a Junior Suite in the beautiful Manor House Hotel, outside Bath.  We got a fantastic deal through Rooms for Romance, but it was pretty much the idea of the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant and luxurious roll-top baths which grabbed my attention…

Anyway, a few days later and we were there...and boy was I impressed!

The hotel actually took my breath away as we pulled up.  Nestled amidst the chocolate box village of Castle Combe (the village itself was once named ‘Prettiest in England’) and set among acres of rolling countryside, it really is the perfect retreat.

castle combe

Pic: Castle Combe

In fact, I was so struck by this hotel that I failed to notice us checking in next to Mr Nicholas Cage.  Yes, really!  I was wandering around, my head completely in the clouds as I admired the d├ęcor, when hubby turned and poked me sharply in the ribs.

"Ow!" I frowned, shooting him a glare. 

“Sam, it’s Nicholas Cage!” he yelped.

“Really? Where?”

“There, you moron.”

“Ohhh…you mean him with the messy hair? And the face full of wrinkles? And the very young looking wife?”

“Yep, that’s him…”

For someone who is so inherently nosey, this is a sign as to just how beautiful this hotel is.  How else could I fail to celebrity spot? 

Anyway, seeing our room quickly made us forget Mr Cage.  It was set in its own cottage, with high ceilings, lots of rustic-looking beams and a beautiful iron-cast four poster bed. The ceiling was draped with tapestries, while battered, old-fashioned books adorned the desk.

nicholas cage hotel

castle combe hotel

As I ran from room to room, I couldn’t quite get over the excitement.  Look at the bed!  Look at the rose petals!  Look at the mood lighting!  Look at the PAINTINGS! 

I was beside myself with glee.  Dizzy with glee, in fact.  I adore antiques and old-fashioned houses, and this had everything I could possibly need.  Yet however good the bedroom was, nothing could quite prepare me for the luxury of the bathroom.  The bathroom was a room to behold all in itself. 

Pretty much the size of our entire house, it was luxury personified.  The bathtub could have quite easily held an orgy (not that we wanted to, you understand…) while the walk-in shower featured NASA technology rain bars. 

It was a dream.  Such a dream that Monty literally had to drag me, kicking and screaming, away from the bath and to dinner.

romantic retreat

Anyway, I’m glad he did.  It turned out to be the highlight of the trip...

Suited and booted, we headed to the main hotel, ready for our Michelin-starred grub. We were immediately swept away to a small, cosy bar, where we perused the menu and sipped cocktails in front of a roaring fire.  As the waiter came to us with our delicious appetisers, I could happily have stayed there forever. But the best was yet to come…

The meal was in a rather grand looking dining room.  All high ceilings and portraits.  But nothing about it screamed pretentious.  It was simply like the rest of the hotel – warm and welcoming.

The food itself was divine.  I had a winter truffle risotto, with chicken oyster beignet and parsley puree to start (very posh – very yummy!) and a gorgeously light pan fried fillet of Cornish turbot, with celeriac and pancetta fricassee for main. 

In between, we were served an amazing treat to "cleanse the mouth".  It was blackberry flavoured and full of popping candy, which really made me smile!  But it was the pudding that really stood out for me. While chocolate fondants make an appearance on most menus, this one was truly orgasmic.  I couldn’t speak when I tasted it – it was that good.

I could happily have eaten there for life. It was delicious.  We've eaten at a few posh restaurants, but this one really held its own. 

I would also highly recommend the afternoon tea (£21pp).  Stacked full of finger sandwiches and scrumptious cakes (we had clotted cream scones, mini trifles, mince pie crumbles, salted caramel chocolate rolls, mulled wine doughnuts...among others), it really is a delicious treat.

afternoon treat, castle combe

manor house hotel tea

The Manor House Hotel is a beautiful, old-world country house.  It is all roaring log fires, tucked-away rooms, libraries and afternoon teas.  Perfect for anyone who is in search of a romantic retreat – I couldn’t recommend it more.

Sam x

P.S Sorry for the poor pictures...I am an idiot and seem to have lost my camera charger.  So these were all done on the phone.