Manor from Heaven


Secluded, indulgent and utterly conducive to relaxationa stay at Foxhill Manor in the Cotswolds is more than just a little bit exclusive, as Laura Henderson discovers

Sheer idleness couldn’t exactly be called a virtue. But if there’s one place championing the cause – it’s Foxhill Manor tucked away in the curvaceous heartland of The Cotswolds. This Grade II-listed manor where the one-step-ahead-of-you personal service flows as freely as the champagne; is the country retreat sibling of Dormy House and bijou gem The Fish Hotel, all three establishments of which can be found on Farncombe Estate; a glorious sprawl of forest, field and farmland overlooking the Vale of Evesham.

The Manor certainly has quite the historic pedigree. Built in 1909 by local Cotswolds craftsmen and designed by Yorkshire-born architect Joseph Lancaster Ball, this caramel-hued Arts and Crafts Manor high on Willersley Hill, was once home to WWII Dambuster squadron leader, Henry Maudslay and is now owned by the Danish Philip-Sorensen family (founder of Group 4 Security).

A £2m-plus refit and its reincarnation as a “private house” hotel works a treat. All eight rooms and suites, named after trees, are individually designed by Trevillion Interiors, with Netta Reynolds, one of the Philip-Sorensen daughters, injecting a suitably Hygge-ish influence. A favourite with honeymooners, is the Oak Suite; its open-plan smooch and snooze living space a mix of earthy wall colourings, mirrored wardrobes, and funky upholstery, with vintage accents – chiselled ceiling beams, a decadent four-poster and uber-plumped window seats. Twin claw-foot tubs stationed side-by side at the bay window soak up the sweeping countryside views.

Pamper levels remain equally consistent across the five non-suite rooms, all en-suite, complete with touch-of-a-button tablet guides to the estate, Nespresso machines and Temple Spa products – perfect for those seeking a little ‘Do Not Disturb’ us time.

A gentle afternoon stroll in the woodland gardens and we’re greeted on our return with a chilled glass of bubbly and an invite to chat through our dinner plans with chef Ian Dixon. Meals at Foxhill are available anytime, anyplace anywhere, with a tempting all-day menu (mezze platters, truffle risotto, Ceaser salad) for those don’t mind if I do, in-between peckish moments.

Selecting from the array of fresh, seasonal local produce for our supper is impossibly hard. We finally plump for the wild asparagus with parmesan shavings and smoked pancetta, rack of lamb and raspberry infused Panacotta; all of which taste as dreamy as they look.

As the frequency of taste-bud encounters might suggest – Foxhill certainly isn’t the place for angelic abstention. Room rates include champagne, wine, spirits housed in glass decanters and soft drinks along with ‘help yourself’ cakes and snacks 24/7 from the Pantry – enticingly stocked with homemade brownies, crisps, marshmallows, and fruit. There's also a vast cinema room strewn with Fatboy beanbags where you can pre-order your movie of choice for an exclusive viewing complete with ..yes..you’ve guessed it – more gratuitous snacking – this time popcorn and fizz.

For those more inclined to ‘feel the burn’ - the Manor offers plenty of ways to work off those extra calories. A cross-country ramble to postcard-worthy Broadway, a spot of quad biking, clay pigeon shooting or archery on the estate, or a circuit at the gym at Dormy House. If best intentions fall by the wayside however, you can always cadge a lift via private shuttle to and from the estate spa and pool and to the local village.

For several thousand pounds a night, individuals can take over the whole house for a private event or special celebration. This is where the home-away-from-home concept at Foxhill truly comes into its own. As it is though, there’s barely a whiff of hotel conformity. Check-in protocol is a simple signature on a card in your suite, the bar is a ‘help yourself to a tipple’ set-up in the guest lounge. Discreet service by the host for all manner of requests (heart shaped ice-cubes anyone?), is always on hand too for a little personalised pampering, which makes you feel truly special.

A peaceful night’s sleep cocooned in Egyptian thread count heaven and a lie-in beckons - a click of the iPad results in a smiling staff member delivering fresh milk for our coffee and although we could have grazed from a pastry festooned breakfast tray in our room, blue skies entice us to the outside terrace. Appetites whetted by smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, fresh sourdough toast with warm honey and frothy peaked coffee - the sun rises over the beautifully manicured gardens and pagoda from where we watch the squirrels perform tree gymnastics.

As places to unwind in style go - the ‘whatever you fancy, whenever you fancy’ motto at Foxhill certainly works a treat. If only calories didn’t count….

For more information or to book visit www.foxhillmanor.com or call +44 (0) 1386 852 711. 

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