Hidden away in the Oxfordshire countryside is a magical getaway that looks like something out of a fairytale or Disney film. The Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons is a 15th-century manor that will truly awaken all of your senses and we are here to tell you that a getaway to this five-star hotel is an absolute must.
The manor house hotel was founded in 1984 by famous Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc and is now part of the ultra-luxury Belmond group which is operated by the luxury French goods group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant is the only British restaurant to maintain two-star status for so long, and one of only three in the country to hold five AA Rosettes for such a long period too.
Foodies and passionate gardeners flock here from far and wide, desperate to try the celebrated tasting menu devised by Raymond Blanc and enjoy the huge garden grounds. The dishes are, in a word, outstanding as the world-class gastronomic flair for which Blanc is known shines through in each course.
Location & Design
Upon arrival, guests are led up a lavender-lined driveway to the spectacular 15th-century country mansion, which is located amid 27 acres of beautiful gardens, orchards, and the rolling British countryside. You instantly relax and get lost in the calm and magnificent Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons experience, as the hotel and gardens are a magnificent combination of French sophistication and quintessentially English charm.
Though you’d never guess, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is located just off the M40, and can be found on the outskirts of the town of Great Milton, in the postcard-perfect area, with rolling hills, a picturesque village green, and quintessentially British cottages. Haddenham & Thame Parkway station is just 45 minutes from London Marylebone Station and a cab trip from here takes about 15 minutes.
Guest Rooms & Suites
Designer and friend of Raymond Blanc, Emily Todhunter has exquisitely designed the 32 rooms, four of which are garden suites and all inspired by Raymond Blanc’s international travels. All are vast and lavish, and guests will find freshly baked lemon drizzle cake, bottles of fresh fruit juice and Veuve, and a selection of fruit in all rooms for the perfect greeting and welcome. Some rooms are more extensively themed than others, so be sure you confirm which one you’re booking. The smaller rooms have a more classic French vibe, and all Garden Suites feature their own garden terraces.
The hotel’s 32 bedrooms and suites are individually designed though they all feature classic interiors such as heavy curtains, luxurious four-poster beds, and marble bathrooms. Colour themes range from rich and moody velvets to soft blue rooms symbolic of French grandeur. Guests’ favourites include the Provence Suite, L’Orangerie or the all white-themed, Blanc de Blanc.
We had the pleasure of staying in the Provence Suite, which as its name gives away, is decorated with inspiration from the Provence region of France. The one bedroom garden suite is defined by rustic charm, with its exposed beams, a dramatic floor-to-ceiling window, a private terrace and an open, wood-burning fireplace.
Service & Facilities
The service at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons has been honed to perfection, with a nothing is ever too much attitude from all staff members. You won’t find any kids’ clubs, a swimming pool, or a gym at the hotel, although you can book in-room beauty treatments and a spa is currently in the works for 2023. Of course, Le Manoir’s unforgettable moments mostly centre around its exquisite food, so it is well worth booking a cookery course at The Raymond Blanc Cuisine School, where professional and friendly chefs lead everything from dinner party master classes to children’s cookery courses. There’s also a gardening school on the grounds, housed in the stunning Botanic Glasshouse.
The gardens are also incredibly impressive, with several lawns, ponds and orchards to admire. Explore the herb and vegetable gardens (many of the products used in the restaurant are produced on-site) before reaching the Japanese tea garden, wildflower meadow, and mushroom valley.
One of the gardens grows more than 70 traditional and exotic herbs, there are two acres of beds bursting with 90 varieties of vegetables, 20 edible species in the mushroom garden, and a magnificent rainbow of colour in the endless flower borders and in the summer, there’s the most magical lavender leading up to the manor house.
Dining & Drink
Upon opening in 1984, Le Manoir immediately earned itself two Michelin stars, and it has retained them both every year without fail. The design at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is very much Oxfordshire mansion meets French flair and in the middle of the immaculately manicured lawn, you will find the Michelin-Starred restaurant that takes centre stage, as well as exceptionally beautiful kitchen gardens.
Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin-starred restaurants speak for itself, and the seven-course tasting menu with meticulously selected paired wines does not disappoint. Each beautifully arranged plate is a success, exciting the senses and evoking anticipation for the next delicious surprise. The four seasons that inspired the hotel and restaurant are depicted on beautifully crafted dinnerware and the fact that the fresh seasonal ingredients are freshly collected from the kitchen gardens adds to the experience.
The restaurant focuses on seasonal recipes and frequently changes its menu. The majority of the ingredients used are grown on the estate, with approximately 90 different types of vegetables and herbs being harvested.
The dining room itself has high ceilings, classic ceiling fans, candlelit tables. Guests can select from the a la carte menu or the seven-course tasting menu, guests also have the option of adding on the much recommended wine tasting. A private dining space can also be reserved for groups of 15 to 50 people. Pre-dinner drinks and canapés are served in the 1930s-style big bar and lounge.
Staff deserve special mention as they find the right blend of being warm and approachable while remaining professional and not overbearing. The exquisite attention to detail, aesthetic, and obvious yet subtle beauty of this rather enchanted environment raises the visitor experience to the next level.