Foodie Heaven: A Dreamy And Delicious Stay At Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons Review

Le-Manoir-Aux-Quat-Saisons

by Grazia |

**Michelin star food in the most picturesque of locations, Grazia’s Sarah Fitzmaurice explores Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire. **

Arriving at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons at sunset is a pretty breathtaking experience. The light was fading giving me just a few moments to admire the property in a dusty pink glow, before the view was lost until the morning. I was won over instantly.

There’s weekend breaks to the countryside and then there’s a trip to Le Manoir. Any foodie will have heard of Raymond Blanc’s Oxfordshire retreat and restaurant –it’s pretty legendary. Since opening in 1977 Blanc and his team have maintained two Michelin stars for a staggering 30 years – that’s astounding longevity.

While guests may come for the incredible food, the picturesque surroundings, the luxurious accommodation and the impeccable service mean a trip here is about so much more than just fine dining. I was lucky enough to spend a magical 24 hours at Le Manoir and have very little to fault. If you’re looking to splash out on a night away from home to recharge the batteries, escape hectic city life and relax this is the place. You may even get a chance to meet Raymond – who is as utterly charming and passionate in the flesh as he is on TV.

Gallery

La Manoir Gallery

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The Room

My home for the night was the ‘La Provence’ suite, a spacious room in the courtyard accessed by a corridor with a leafy canopy overhead. The suite has a working log fire, dining table, a vast walk-in wardrobe, a spacious bathroom and a private garden. It proved the perfect mix of rustic luxury and comfort, and I was delighted to find some chocolates from Raymond as well as a package from Hush Homewear, containing floral pyjamas and a rose scented candle. The attention to detail and additional extra comforts proved to be recurring theme throughout the stay - you don't need to think about anything, it's all taken care of seemlessly. Before dinner I couldn’t resist a soak in the ginormous bath – there’s a TV screen for idle minds – or candles and bath oils to calm busy ones, and after a hectic week I chose the latter.

The Food

Dining at Le Manoir is an experience and a half. There’s a real sense of formality and occasion without being too stuffy or uptight and the food is as good as ‘they’ say. After champagne cocktails and delicate canapés in the living room we were ushered into the airy dining room for the main event. We sampled the five course tasting menu and it was a total pleasure for the palette. Fresh crab salad, with apple, watercress was served with a horseradish ice cream. The cold spice of the cream complemented the fresh crab meat to utter perfection gently easing us into the meal. Next came a wild mushrooms risotto with a generous helping of perigord truffle – I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms, but these morsels were so tasty, so succulent, even I was impressed.

The menu came with paired wines (no dechipering over endless lists here) and our knowledgeable sommelier was informative and attentive, without being overbearing. While pouring the Reisling GC Rosacker 2011, to complement the risotto, which it did beautifully, he informed us that we must explore ‘mushroom valley’ in the grounds the following day – we banked the knowledge, grateful for the suggestion. The third dish was the freshest and most flavoursome dover sole I have ever tasted, served with cauliflower, scallops, brown butter and rosemary.

The Rhug estate venison and celeriac fondant with truffle shavings that followed was melt in your mouth incredible. The only dish that didn’t leave me licking my plate clean was the roasted pineapple in its own sorbet proving too sweet for my palette. With a ridiculously fully tummy, but in the best possible way, guests are escorted back to the living room for a night cap or a pot of tea. I tumbled into the expansive bed in a happy and content haze before drifting off into the deepest of sleeps with ridiculous ease. The following morning we couldn’t tear ourselves away from the comfort of the suite and ordered in breakfast. After dressing up the night before we made the most of lounging around in fluffy robes, eating eggs royal with the sunshine streaming in from the courtyard. I struggle to think of a better way to wile away a few hours.

Raymond Blanc

I was lucky enough to meet Raymond during the stay – he’s often around the property - and Monsieur Blanc proved to be an attentive host asking about our experience, describing how he designed the bathrooms with ‘le lovers’ in mind, and reminding me that the gardens weren’t looking their best during our visit in early Spring. His love for the property and his energy proved incredibly infectious.

The Gardens

Despite Monsieur Blanc’s warning I thoroughly enjoyed the stroll through the Japanese tea garden and meandering around the herbs and vegetables growing on site will be of interest to anyone interested in food. So, everyone then. Growing produce on the grounds mean Raymond and his team have the freshest of ingredients and it shows in the dishes they serve. I can just imagine just how magnificent the scenery is when the gardens are in full bloom. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to experience the cookery school – but it’s definitely an excuse to go back. With our tour of the property done it was time to head back to London. I felt relaxed, refreshed and just a little concerned that the experience may have turned me into a total food snob. I’m completely fine with that, even if my wallet isn’t.

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and Hush has created a spring offer. This costs £890 and includes overnight accommodation, dinner for two and breakfast and an indulgent gift from Hush. This will include ladies pyjamas, a candle and £50 voucher to spend on Hush (hush-uk.com). Valid from Sunday to Thursday nights, subject to availability, to be taken before the end of June 2015. For information visit here.

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