by Mishelle Thurairatnam
Hidden away in the Oxfordshire countryside lies a fairytale escape. Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’saisons is a 15th-century manor that really ignites your senses.
First opened by Michelin star chef Raymond Blanc in 1984, the manor house hotel is now being acquired from the Belmond group by luxury French goods company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
The manor looks like a vision from a postcard of a French chateau, surrounded by shrubbery, cascading with ivy and the fusion of garden herbs permeating the air.
Designed by Emily Todhunter, Blanc’s good friend, each of the 32 rooms have been individually designed by both of them. Blanc, the chef patron of the manor house, incorporates elements of his travels into every room, ensuring that his vision truly comes alive.
Visitors will not be told what room they have until their arrival unless requested but the anticipation is truly worth it. The staff match guests to the room according to the details in their booking.
Holding two Michelin stars, the restaurant uses organic produce which is cultivated on the grounds. The dining experience is gastronomical and boasts a phenomenal Haute cuisine.
L’Orangerie Garden Suite
Size: 64 sqm
Nightly rate: $2,136
One of the hotel’s four Garden Suites, L’Orangerie is inspired by Blanc’s childhood. His grandparents were the keepers of a grand chateau in France. The estate had an orangery, a room in which the plants were stored during cold spells.
The two storey shelter was painted in tones of burnt sienna, along with high ceilings, and an old tin bath on the second floor. This provided a sense of character and comfort and L’Orangerie exudes a similar vibe.
A private entrance leads into lime oak heated floors and the comforts of a separate sitting room. The marble bathroom adds to create a mix between rustic and decadence.
The restaurant features unexpected twists for the palette. The menu only makes use of the best organic produce, something Blanc is very passionate about. Through this philosophy, Les Quat’Saisons has earned two Michelin stars.
The kitchen focuses on creating seasonal dishes and changes its menu frequently. Most of the ingredients used are grown on the grounds with approximately 90 different kinds of vegetables and an array of herbs are picked produced.
The dining room itself is adorned with high ceilings, vintage ceiling fans, candlelight tables, and in the center stands prodigious plants. Guests can choose between the a la carte menu or the seven-course tasting menu, which is accompanied with a wine flight.
A private dining room is also available for booking, accommodating between 15-50 guests. Enjoy pre-dinner cocktails and canapes in the 1930’s style grand bar and lounge.
Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’saisons runs the Blanc cookery school. This is also open to non-residents and runs throughout the year. The cookery course starts at $242 per person for half day and then goes up to $477 for a full day.
Guests can learn to cook Maman Blanc’s recipes or even learn to become a culinary expert of fish and seafood with the ‘Treasures of the Sea’ course.
For passionate home gardeners, the gardening course works on developing and blossoming green fingers. The interactive course takes guests through the 11 gardens and orchards of the manor house and includes lunch in Hartley Botanic glasshouse.
The hotel frequently hosts events throughout the year so guests, as well as non-residents, can enjoy evenings filled with music, demonstrations, renowned speakers all paired with fine dining.
The next event on the calendar is June 18 during the British Flower Week. Jonathon Mosely, a UK ambassador for British flowers, will provide guests with a summer flower arrangement demonstration, this comes with a seasonal lunch and wines to match the menu.