I have been staying in and reviewing hotels around the world now for ten years. That, by no means, makes me an expert. But, I like to think that means I have a pretty good foundation laid for what’s what in the world of luxury retreats. So, this next sentence should not be taken lightly. Never in my life have I stayed in a place like Foxhill Manor, ever. I have a list of five hotels, constantly in my mind, should anyone ever ask me where on earth I would stay if money and time were no object. One hour here and this beautiful manor house hotel jumped not just into that top five, it made it into the top two.
Usually, when you stay in a luxury hotel you still feel like you are living in a hotel. That is not the case at Foxhill. Sure it’s small (only 8 bedrooms), but this non-hotel experience has only a little to do with size. I guess I should first explain what I mean when I say this is a non-hotel experience. Well, it’s as easy as this. You don’t feel like you are staying in a hotel because you feel like you are simply retreating to your country house, owned by you, complete with wait staff, a chef and more. Now, allow me to wax lyrical about how that is achieved.
When you pull up to Foxhill Manor, you are greeted by name as you park your car right in the front courtyard. The door is swung wide open and left open as you make your way in. The attendant takes your bags to your room as another attendant explains how the house works. First up, the discussion of food. You don’t have a menu while staying at Foxhill Manor, you have a chef, a chef that will cater to your every culinary desire. We visit the kitchen to meet the team almost immediately after arriving, as we decided we would be having all three meals over the next 24 hours in residence at the Manor. I suppose this is the only downside of the hotel, you never want to leave.
We started our day sitting outside in the sunshine. Yes, somehow we got good summer weather. I am still pinching myself that it didn’t rain once while we were in residence. The sun shone so brightly down upon our faces that we eventually had to ask for an umbrella to go up to shade us from the harsh light of day. But, with the umbrella rising came glasses of champagne, without us even asking. And after we finished our glasses quickly, the single serving of glasses was replaced with bottles on ice, as the team thought we’d be happier with a bottle in closer proximity to our chairs. They started as they meant to go on. Every whim was catered for, every request accommodated before we even knew we would make one.
The highlight, on that afternoon specifically, was the challenge to give the chef in residence a difficult dish to cook. Remember, there are no menus – you control what’s cooked. So, three American girls sat there, after a few too many glasses of champagne and decided the best thing to do to challenge an English chef was to ask for an American Awesome Blossom. We’d never seen it prepared in the UK before, so we thought we were offering up a wish too much. Alas, the challenge was not big enough. Out came the perfect Awesome Blossom (a deep dried blooming onion), complete with the right dipping sauce. Our jaws hit the floor and our table erupted with applause and compliments to the chef.
Of course a hotel is more than just food and beverage. Or is it? Usually the rooms are the highlight in any hotel, with the views and the fancy furnishings. Then, the hotel in question is always trying to tempt you into their in house restaurant or bar to spend more money. I felt truly flummoxed at Foxhill Manor. I didn’t know what to choose as a favourite… the hospitality or the room, and both were included in the price so there was no real push for you to stay or leave in either direction. I could easily see myself reclining forever more in my room, with a view of the beautiful English countryside stretched before me and room service on call (or a quick trip to the pantry down the hall with more goodies than I’ve ever seen stacked in one place…this must be hell for dieters). But then, the sitting areas in the hotel, from the main living room to the freshly manicured lawn, were all so enticing. That was the only problem with the hotel, as far as I could see. It’s a constant dilemma of where to be. Each new corner discovered seems more beautiful than the next. One night was not enough, not nearly.
After three meals, each uniquely crafted to our exact specifications (hello, mom’s French toast for breakfast), a visit to the in house cinema for a viewing of our choice of movie and an entire afternoon in the sun with champagne to hand, I can easily say I was in love, hook, line and sinker, with this beautiful country retreat.
I have never felt like I could recommend a getaway more highly. In fact, as we departed, I promised my girlfriends that if I ever did choose to get married, this would either be the sight of the wedding or the scene of the bachelorette weekend. Either way, I’ll be back.
Now, dear reader, for you I would recommend this as a retreat that is romantic, self soothing or “girls gone wild, in a country manor sort of way.” Any way you shape the excursion, make it happen. It’s worth every penny and every ounce of effort to get there. And I can imagine each and every season has its own charms.
Fashion Foie Gras was a guest of Foxhill Manor.