I love the Cotswolds.
One of the most beautiful parts of England’s green and pleasant land, everywhere you look is picture postcard material.
There are so many hidden gems scattered around, like gorgeous Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa, for example, which is where we were lucky enough to reside for a gastronomic getaway on a glorious weekend in May.
Whatley Manor is a stunning 19th-century Grade II-listed country house nestled in 12-acre grounds and rolling fields near the picturesque town of Malmesbury.
Originally built as a lodge on the Beaufort Estate, this Wiltshire wonder is now a stunning Relais & Chateaux country house hotel with 23 bedrooms and ideally situated near the Beaufort Polo Club, home to some of the biggest polo events in the UK.
Arriving early to make the most of our stay, there was time before check-in to enjoy a pleasant afternoon stroll around the hotel’s magnificent gardens and we were immediately wowed by how immaculately preened everything was.
There’s so much attention to detail and you can’t help but be impressed. With the beautiful wisteria blossoming and the perfectly manicured floral displays in the courtyard, it’s a magnificent setting for a luxury countryside oasis.
Inside, the hotel is furnished with warming colours and decorated with lots of interesting artwork and ornaments, complementing the grand main staircase and large sitting rooms, including a beautifully-panelled drawing room.
All the bedrooms and suites at Whatley are a generous size with ample space for a king-size bed, desk and comfortable chairs.
A lovely selection of L’Occitane toiletries are provided in the bathrooms and there’s no need to bother with kettles or coffee machines as the hotel offers guests a morning tea tray which is brought to you.
Then there’s the award-winning Aquarias Spa, where you can sink into a peaceful slumber for hours on end while escaping the day-to-day pressures of modern life.
Treat yourself to a unique 60-minute recharge treatment in the Natura Bisse Air Bubble … pure bliss!
Other spa facilities include a fabulous hydrotherapy pool which extends outside, a tepidarium with heated stone recliners, lovely salt scrub showers and a multi-purpose gym.
The hotel has a terrific reputation for its food and is currently showcasing the skills of young Michelin star chef Niall Keating who, at the age of just 26, is one of the rapidly rising stars of the fine dining world.
Achieving his first star in October, less than a year after joining the hotel, talented Niall has also added the Michelin Young European Chef of the Year title to his name.
Before dinner, we admired the tranquil surroundings with a cocktail on the terrace specially-made by sommelier Daniel Davis, who was so charming and eager to please.
The 14-course tasting menu experience in the restaurant – simply called The Dining Room – featured a host of exquisite dishes with lots of surprising and wonderful flavours all complimented by a hand-picked selection of wines.
Gastronomic delights included chorizo risotto and scallop, tortellini black and halibut and yeast and iberico, proving to me that Niall and Whatley Manor are a match made in heaven.
Less formal dining was enjoyed during lunch at Grey’s Brasserie, which has a lovely kitchen garden where you can admire the scenery while munching away on more delicious food, this time more British-style cuisine such as baked camembert, homemade sausage roll and garlic and white wine prawns.
As you’d expect from a five-star hotel, the care and treatment provided by all the staff at Whatley Manor is second-to-none, with their aim simply to make your stay as pleasurable as possible. And from my point of view, staying in a hotel like this is nothing but a pleasure.
A one-night stay at Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa costs from £260 per room B&B for a standard room including use of Aquarias Spa.
A 60-minute Natura Bisse Taster Re-Charge treatment costs £90.
The gastronomic tasting menu costs £120 per person. To book visit https://www.whatleymanor.com or call 01666 822888. Address: Whatley Manor, Easton Grey, Malmesbury, SN16 0RB.