As you drive along the poplar-lined lane that weaves through the 400-acre Farncombe Estate – past two forks leading to hotel siblings Dormy House and The Fish – the hum of traffic peters out to a tranquil silence you can only dream of as a city-dweller from London. One more bend in the gravel path, and you’ve arrived: Foxhill Manor peeks out from the towering oak trees – a grand, honey-hued abode that could be plucked straight from a period drama.
Upon arrival, you’re greeted with a glass of Champagne and led to the outdoor terrace, where scenes of bucolic bliss await: a break in the wall of trees reveals the quintessential Cotswolds countryside of forested hills and yawning valleys. Just beyond, the nearby gold-tinted village of Broadway can be glimpsed, with its boutique design stores, tearooms and art galleries – a 30-minute walk if you can drag yourself away from the hotel (the neatly lined Hunter wellies by the front door leave no excuses, should you forget your hiking boots).
Behind its imposing facade, this Grade II-listed Arts and Crafts mansion is brimming with the charm of a boutique hideaway – just eight bedrooms and suites create an intimate vibe, while warm and welcoming staff couldn’t be more helpful, without being imposing. Fancy a freshly stirred cocktail (made with local Cotswold gin, no less)? Right away. Headed off on a hike and hill-shredded hamstrings broken your stride? Call the team, and the estate’s Volvo 4WD will pick you up in a heartbeat.
And this accommodating nature extends to the kitchen, where the menu has been ripped up in favour of a more flexible approach to dining. Pop into the kitchen pre-dinner to discuss your tastes with head chef Jon Ingram and pick from a seasonal selection of foods scrawled on the blackboard – think hen’s egg to start, lamb and chicken for mains – and the team can whip these ingredients into tried-and-tested dishes.
Alternatively, throw your own ideas into the mix for an entirely bespoke creation – the staff have been known to nip down to the local butchers or grocers to fulfil a guest’s wishes. Having handed the culinary reins to Jon, he more than delivers: standouts include thinly sliced beef carpaccio scattered with slivers of apple and fennel, followed by delicate sea bass resting atop a delicate Thai green curry, and rounded off with a seriously decadent peanut parfait, topped with caramelised nuts. There’s a wine cellar, too, for budding connoisseurs keen to pair the perfect vintage with their meal.
In line with this relaxed but luxurious home-from-home feel, the hotel has done away with a formal restaurant, instead replacing it with an array of inviting dining venues. Pick from an outdoor terrace with a bubbling water feature, a cushion-topped chair in the fire-warmed bar, by the tall windows in the laid-back lounge – or even a secluded nook you stumble across in the manor house (a personal favourite was a tucked-away corner on the first floor with valley views). The main aim is here is to make guests feel at ease, while reaping the luxuries you’d expect from a high-end hotel – from the complimentary Champagne Delamotte and homemade cake (the chocolate, orange and polenta slab was divine) in the lounge, to the help-yourself ‘Pantry’ packed with goodies such as homemade flapjacks, plates of charcuterie, freshly made hummus and bottles of elderflower pressé.
Individually designed rooms and suites are dotted throughout the two floors, each flaunting elegant country manor interiors – expect a calming colour palette of soft greys and pastels, accented with bursts of floral wallpaper and postcard-pretty views. There’s no shortage of creature comforts either: king-size beds topped with marshmallow duvets, a tablet for ordering room service, and sleek en-suites lined with Temple Spa products, many with roll-top baths. And the room to book: the romantic Oak Suite, with its huge four-poster bed and twin clawfoot tubs by the windows for a bath-with-a-view.
If you experience a bout of cabin fever (very unlikely in these digs), hotfoot it to the cinema room, a retro space coated in comic book graphics, where you can take advantage of an extensive DVD collection, Apple TV and homemade popcorn, plus a PlayStation 4 and video games. While there’s no spa at Foxhill Manor, guests are welcome to use the wellness facilities at Dormy House, including its award-winning spa, outdoor hot tub, indoor infinity pool and thermal suite (Finnish sauna, lavender-scented steam room, thalassotherapy pool, sensory shower and ice bath), free of charge. Alternatively, venture further afield to discover a string of charming Cotswold villages, from the picturesque streets of nearby Chipping Campden to the popular Bourton-on-the-Water, home to traditional stone cottages and riverside pubs (a 25-minute drive away).
Prices at Foxhill Manor start from £365 per night. For reservations and further information, visit www.foxhillmanor.com.