A picture-perfect Cotswolds stay at The Manor House, Castle Combe

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If your idea of a perfect summer’s day is afternoon tea (or a gin and tonic) on a beautiful lawn in the sunshine, The Manor House luxury hotel in the pretty Cotswolds village of Castle Combe, Wiltshire, is the place to be.

the manor house castle combe
The Manor House Hotel is surrounded by beautiful lawns, the Bybrook river and there’s even a golf course on the other side of the hotel

There you can immerse yourself in the Sunday papers (or even a game of lawn chess) with nothing to disturb you but the gentle chirp of birdsong, the occasional splash from the herons fishing in the stream running through the grounds and occasionally someone coming to ask if you’d like something more to eat or drink.

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The Manor House was built in the 14th century to replace a Norman castle and former inhabitants include Sir John Falstaff who was immortalised by Shakespeare in Henry IV. The Manor House was sold in 1947 and has been a hotel ever since

A circle of little hills wraps around The Manor House’s 365 acres, making the hotel feel cosy and protected from the outside world. Little seems to have changed here for centuries. The same can be said of the village of Castle Combe itself, a vision in pale Cotswold stone. From the stone bridge over the babbling brook at the bottom of the village to the 14th century market cross at the top, Castle Combe looks as if it has come straight out of a Cotswold calendar or the lid of a box of chocolates.

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The Wiltshire village of Castle Combe has remained unchanged over the centuries and is a hit with tourists and film makers alike

If it seems familiar, that’s because it is: Castle Combe has been the setting for a host of films and TV series, from Doctor Dolittle and War Horse  to Doctor Thorne and most recently the hugely popular Japanese anime series Kiniro Mosaic, also known as Kinmoza.

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To book directly with the hotel, go to: The Manor House hotel and golf
To compare prices for The Manor House click on: HotelsCombined – Expedia – Hotels.com
To read more reviews click here to go to The Manor House on TripAdvisor
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The grounds of The Manor House itself circle the village like a warm embrace, with its driveway sweeping from its gates at the southerly end of Castle Combe village to the lawns in front of the hotel, past an ornate Italian garden and a row of workers’ cottages (now converted into bedrooms) before emerging at the top of the village.

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Beautiful workers’ cottages on the estate are now bedrooms and suites, just a few moment’s walk from the main house
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Just to the right of The Manor House are some ornate Italian-style gardens and the kitchen gardens which supply the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant
the manor house castle combe
The Manor House’s lawns are the perfect spot for afternoon tea (or a cocktail or two)

We were first given a room right in the eaves of the hotel with a high ceiling, wooden timbers and sloping roof. It looked like a grand, classical room but still had all the modern luxuries of three TVs (one disguised as a mirror), roll-top bath, walk-in shower, brand new £300 Dyson Supersonic hairdryer and iPad detailing the hotel’s many charms.

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Our room at the very top of the hotel
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A little stuffed animal greeted us on our arrival (he doubles up as a ‘do not disturb’ sign

However a swarm of honey bees took up residence outside just after our arrival and soon a constant stream of little buzzing scout bees were coming through the walls in search of a new home.

Thankfully after receiving my panicked phone call to reception the hotel sprang into action and relocated us to an even better room by the front of the hotel overlooking the lawns. After dinner we found two jars of the hotel’s own honey in our room with an apologetic note from the bees. Top marks for customer service!

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Our second room, right at the front of the hotel (and thankfully without any little honey bees)
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The bees were kind enough to leave us an apologetic note though…
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The hotel restaurant’s starter menu

Service was equally good on the lawn for a pre-dinner drink in the beautiful evening sun and then it was time for dinner at The Manor House’s restaurant, The Bybrook, named after the stream running through the grounds.

As you’d expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant, there was a host of little treats between the courses, including chicken liver parfait with fig chutney and onion espuma with pork belly. The dishes themselves were works of art, from starters of salmon confit and scallops to the mains of halibut with samphire, cockles and mussels, and fillet of beef with braised ribs and wild garlic.

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Orkney hand-dived scallops with smoked river test eel and sea vegetables
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Fillet of beef with braised ribs and wild garlic
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Buttermilk panna cotta topped with a salad of wild strawberries

We were far too full to try the impressive-looking cheese selection and when the coffee arrived with a cake stand of petit fours it was with some relief that we remembered that our room was just a few steps away. However guests with more stamina (or who’d maybe eaten less food than us) were heading to the little bar for a nightcap.

Breakfast the next morning was an excellent combination of continental and cooked (although I was surprised that the honey on offer wasn’t the hotel’s own) and after such a weekend’s indulgence the Italian gardens overlooking the hotel and woods surrounding the golf course at the back of the hotel were the perfect places for a lengthy summer’s morning walk.

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The hotel’s golf course and surrounding woods were a great place for a post-breakfast stroll

We finished our perambulations back in Castle Combe village and its beautiful church, St Andrew’s. Its 15th century clock is one of the earliest working clocks in England and we arrived by chance just before midday so we got the maximum benefit of its chimes.

It was with some reluctance that we returned to The Manor House to pick up my little yellow car for the drive home – but the calmness from sitting in the hotel grounds in the sunshine lasted all the way home along the M4 – no mean feat.

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My little yellow Fiat was rather reluctant to leave The Manor House…

The Manor House
Castle Combe,
Wiltshire SN14 7HX
Tel: 01249 782206

Rooms start from £162 per room per night.

The Manor House is part of the Exclusive Hotels group which includes Pennyhill Park hotel and spa, Surrey, reviewed by ALadyofLeisure.com here

————————————————————————————————————
To book directly with the hotel, go to: The Manor House hotel and golf
To compare prices for The Manor House click on: HotelsCombined – Expedia – Hotels.com
To read more reviews click here to go to The Manor House on TripAdvisor
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Sarah Bridge

Sarah Bridge

Every review is personally researched and written by leisure expert Sarah Bridge who, when she is not writing about leisure for a national newspaper, spends her time seeking out the best leisure experiences, from city centre boutique hotels to country house estates, Michelin-starred dining to the newest openings.
Sarah Bridge
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