In the fairy tale village of Castle Combe, The Manor House in the Cotswolds is a luxury 14th-century property set in 365 acres of secluded parkland. With its sweeping willow trees and stunning views, the property has been untouched since the 17th century. It is not surprising that being on the grounds feels very magical.
Boasting a Michelin-star restaurant and 18-hole championship golf course, it’s no wonder why The Manor House has a bundle of awards under their belt. The stunning, individually designed bedrooms are situated at the main property with a row of private cottages (complete with a private gate to the prettiest pub in the village) creating an almost, ‘village within a village’ feel.
As hotels go, there are very few UK properties that feel as special as this does.
Seeing as I was visiting one of the most romantic settings in the UK, I decided this trip was for my best friend along with the love of my life, my small, tiny, bossy and critical pooch, Buddy. What’s more, my friend was celebrating a slight milestone — I won’t embarrass her by mentioning the number — birthday so it felt apt we would spend the weekend in absolute luxury.
The train from Paddington took 1 hour and 20 minutes, whisking us directly to Chippenham where we jumped a taxi from the station to The Manor House, Cotswolds. It couldn’t have been easier. Alternatives would include arriving by car (the property has plenty of parking space), which would take roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes from London. Castle Combe is only a 30-minute drive from Bath or Bristol, so it could also tie in with an extended visit.
I have to admit, we both squealed with excitement when we were handed the keys to our cottage. I may be biased; however our cottage truly was the most beautiful. Luckily, the Castle Inn, which we booked for dinner, was a total of 12 steps away. We joked about having to get a taxi back, but after the amount of delicious food we consumed during that sitting, it would have helped!
The first thing we clocked as we opened the door to our new weekend home was the bottle of sparkling wine along with mini bottles of locally sourced gin — a beautiful touch along with a corner dedicated to the lord of the manor himself, my lovely dog Buddy.
Straight away he bounded over to his own comfy bed, bowls, towels and of course his favourite, Lily’s Kitchen treats. I accidentally managed to rip the bag open with treats flying over the cottage floor, he had hoovered them up by the time I could reach down. I would say his first impressions exceeded all expectations, and he is a tough critic!
After chewing each other’s ears off about how stunning the original stone spiral staircase was, we found the roll-top bath and queen-sized bed and went back downstairs to explore our very own garden. The cottages (as I imagine the rooms do) include everything you will need for your stay including Cowshed products, a Dyson hairdryer and a Nespresso coffee machine.
It didn’t take us long to get cosy in front of the fire with a glass of fizz before taking our 12 steps to the pub for dinner.
The Castle Inn
Right in the middle of the honey-coloured stone village stands The Castle Inn. It has been awarded AA Rosettes, as well as scooping the Best Pub at the Trencherman’s Awards 2023. You can see why as soon as you enter. Head chef, Jamie Barnett has really created magic on the menu including pub favourites with a twist of fine dining.
We were seated in a beautiful alcove with views of the fairy lights and village. We were soon (elegantly we like to think) stuffing ourselves with fluffy bread and olive oil while choosing our main courses. Between us we tried the special of the day, Plaice as well as the Rib-eye, the Ale and Cheddar soup and an incredibly light cheesecake to settle our sweet tooth.
Buddy, of course, was offered a tray of treats which he rudely rejected once the rib-eye made an appearance. After several attempts to swipe it off my plate, he did manage to tackle a slice. I would imagine with the excessive lip licking, he enjoyed it as much as we did!
The pub dates back to the 12th century. As well as boasting all original features and roaring fires, the pub hosts overnight guests with 12 super comfortable bedrooms. We decided to dine at The Castle Inn so the small lord was able to join us. However the main property at The Manor House, Cotswolds includes the Bybrook, named after the picturesque river flowing through the hotel grounds.
The restaurant is headed up by chef Robert Potter who has kept his Michelin-star since 2017 — creating a wonderful experience for guests and cleverly curating the menu with seasonal dishes and expertly matched wines.
Many visitors to Castle Combe come for motorsport. It is one of my dad’s (a motor racing pro) favourite tracks where a young Stirling Moss won the 2.5-litre race in 1950 however there is much more history to explore. We decided to spend our time within the village with lovely walks on the grounds and reading up on the film history, which we absolutely loved.
Not only did the great Steven Spielberg shoot scenes for War Horse there, the village was used for Stardust, The Wolfman, Dick Turpin and 1967’s Dr Dolittle. For those wanting to stray a little further, there is an abundance of things to visit. Bath and Bristol are so easily accessible, as well as Somerset with the Roman Baths on the doorstep and Stonehenge for a moonlight dance!
The Championship Golf Course
Now, special mention must go to the breathtaking golf course. An 18-hole, par 72 (6500 yards), resort, parkland golf course designed by Peter Alliss & Clive Clark in 1992 is a must-visit for golfing fans. I am not sure our golfing skills were up to par for this element of the stay. However, I will be back with a golfing fan (he better start practising) to fulfil the experience.
The course is complete with the accolade of its final hole being named one of the prettiest in England.
When I think of a way to sum up our experience at The Manor House, Cotswolds it does have to be extraordinary and magical. The romance of the property felt like you had stepped straight into a movie and you should be adorned with a flowing princess dress all whilst running alongside the quaint river to your prince charming. If I had planned it prior, I would have dressed Buddy in a prince outfit for his visit.
The Exclusive Collection team behind The Manor House really know how to create an experience, and I can’t wait to be back for another fairy tale stay.
To discover more, visit: exclusive.co
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All imagery courtesy of The Exclusive Collection.