“I need to get out of town. You know, I think I need some peace and quiet… or whatever it is people go away for…..You know, I want to read a book! Not just a magazine, an actual book” – says Amanda (Cameron Diaz) in The Holiday. And if she hadn’t ended up staying in Kate Winslet’s beautiful cottage, The Manor House Hotel, nestled in the beautiful village of Castle Combe, would not be a bad option!
The website of the The Manor House perfectly describes the location and atmosphere..
Breathtakingly situated in Wiltshire and on the outskirts of Bath lies Castle Combe village. Untouched since the 17th century, this chocolate box Cotswold village is home to the definitive country retreat. Whether you are joining us for business or pleasure, take time to explore the grounds, get lost in our Italian gardens and stroll through the flourishing kitchen garden, growing the finest produce for use in our award-winning restaurant and bar. And when your tummy begins to rumble, why not opt for a spot of afternoon tea out on our sunny lawns or hideaway in one of many nooks and cranny’s to simply relax.
We’ve visited the Manor House hotel twice, each time by train from London Paddington to Chippenham (Great Western Railway have trains running every 30 mins. The journey takes around an hour and a half).
There are taxis outside Chippenham station, and the journey to the Manor House takes about 15-20 minutes, through interesting little villages & hamlets, such as the aptly named Tiddlywink!
The hotel itself, is, of course, the original Manor House of the village. You can read about the history on the hotel website, here.
“Lady of the Manor” at the main entrance! and the beautiful grounds of the hotel
We stayed in Marsh Furlong cottage, one of the beautiful mews cottages a short walk away from the main hotel, and with its own front gate and garden area. Most importantly, it is literally a stone’s throw from the Castle Inn pub, which is now owned by the hotel.
The beautiful Marsh Furlong cottage, with cosy woodburning stove & beamed ceilings
We arrived after a harrowing journey on the 10th December, when weather conditions meant our flight from Amsterdam took at least 7 hours longer than it should! Some hours were spent stuck in the plane, sitting on the runway. The knock-on effect had caused train delays from London, so we spent basically the whole day travelling. I had emailed the Manor House to keep them up to date on our journey. On our eventual arrival, after 10pm, we were warmly welcomed in reception, and shown to our cottage, where staff then cheerfully brought us champagne and sandwiches from the main hotel (no mean feat on a hill covered in black ice!). We soon had a roaring fire and were feeling a lot better.
Highlights of our cottage: The stunning bathroom (with stained glass window), huge shower area with multiple jets, and my personal favourite – the claw footed bath with its own rubber duck and a waterproof “Aqua” TV with remote control! What fun I had watching Nigella’s Christmas in the bath 😆.
Also, the bed is by far the most comfortable I have ever slept in, and as a generally poor sleeper, I am a very discerning critic! Once you get in, you literally can’t get out – it’s so comfortable. I just sank into the sumptuous topper and amazingly comfortable pillows. I wish I could have the whole bed shipped to Amsterdam (Manor House Hotel, please take note 😉)
And of course.. champagne & dining
We ate one evening at the Michelin starred Bybrook restaurant at the hotel, which was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The setting is beautiful, the staff very knowledgeable and attentive, and the food is delicious.
The menu offers a modern interpretation of traditional English fare, and has especially upped its game when it comes to game (sorry – couldn’t resist). We both had pot roast local Wiltshire partridge with a fantastic red wine jus for our main courses. We paired this with a delightful, wintery Domaine Grand Veneur Châteauneuf-Du-Pape 2006 (Alain Jaume & Fils)
A beautiful wintery evening with berry flavours and delicious game in the Bybrook
The Bybrook is without doubt one of my favourite Michelin restaurants.
N.B. Recommended to book in advance when you book your hotel stay.
As I mentioned, the hotel also now owns the The Castle Inn pub, which I recommend for a cosy lunch or dinner. If you want to channel Cameron Diaz in The Holiday, just show up in a sexy jumper and order a glass of wine by the fire. I can’t guarantee Jude Law will turn up – but they definitely do a mean turkey sandwich.
Over all – the Manor House hotel comes highly recommended for a perfect, relaxing genuine “get away” in the beautiful Cotswolds. There isn’t much phone reception, there aren’t any modern distractions (before you panic – they do have great wifi and TV!), and you really can just curl up by the fire with a good book. When did you honestly last do that?
I’ve stayed in more expensive locations in the Cotswolds which also have Michelin restaurants, but this place gives them a run for their money. If anyone asked me for a recommendation in this area, this would be it. Easily accessible from London or Bristol, very friendly staff, steeped in history, and with real luxury. Downton Abbey eat your heart out 😀
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and feel inspired to visit this beautiful area for the first time, or to return to an old favourite.
Next stop.. Hawaii at the end of December!! From cosy log fires to beautiful beaches and hiking..
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Bye for now, Merry Christmas and travel safe!