EASTON GREY, MALMSBURY, U.K, November 5, 2014 – Whatley Manor is a golden country resort built of Cotswold stone that takes the English manor house to exotic heights of exceptional comfort, style, and class.
This refined Relais & Chateaux outpost of civility resonates deeply with those seeking an inspired destination retreat where beauty, lush surroundings, exceptional fine dining, and luxurious spa treatments are delivered with a consistent joy and panache.
Set in the middle of the open countryside north of Bath, its 23 individual rooms and suites are furnished in high style with personally selected antiques and artifacts with a cosmopolitan Asian accent.
Comfortable and spacious, with lush carpeting, sumptuous bedding, thick curtains, and sparkling bath chambers, each room and suite is its own exceptional antechamber of reflective glory to the cause of humanistic resuscitation.
In the main manor house a grand entrance circle and cozy lobby gives way to a warm, beautifully decorated living room stretching across the back of the house.
Floor to ceiling windows overlook the grounds, and large doors lead to a series of stylish open patios wrapped around the perimeter.
Gardens permeating throughout the grounds are lush, extensive, and inspirational in their construct and beauty, extending across the property and all the way down to the bucolic Avon River.
Open fields of translucent green surround the property, and across the Avon lounging herds of cattle follow the wind and whimsy of their daily lives, munching the lush greenery in the surrounding hills.
Whatley Manor is the home of The Dining Room restaurant, an exquisitely worshipful two Michelin star shrine to the gods of Haute Cuisine under the guidance of uber Chef Martin Burge.
With past experiences at London’s outstanding Pied a Terre and Oxford’s legendary Le Manoir aux Quat Saissons, Chef Burge has been at Whatley Manor since 2003, earned his first Michelin star in 2005, and has held two Michelin stars for six years since 2009. It is easy to see why.
There are few dining experiences that match the culinary level of precision and expertise as that experienced at The Dining Room.
Service, atmosphere, and most importantly, stratospheric cuisine electrifies the palate with bold strokes of exquisite delicacies.
The staff is crisply attentive without being obsequious, and spot on service at every level is exceptional.
A starter course of native lobster topped with mango and coconut in a ginger and lemongrass Thai consommé is superb, delicate and complex all at the same time.
ruffle ravioli with compressed apple, asparagus and white mushroom foam is an otherworldly delight. Garden pea risotto with girolle mushrooms is brilliant, simply spectacular, a light vegetarian entrée bursting with flavor and texture.
A 2005 Chasange-Montrochet Premier Cru by Noel Ramonet is a sublime accompaniment to an extraordinary meal, thanks to the clear and precise expertise of Sommelier Andrea Domenicucci.
A filet of turbot with caramelized Obsiblue prawns and truffle macaroni is a rich and sumptuous climax to a phenomenal fine dining experience.
Restaurant manager Silvio Dinu and his staff, including his wife Alina, run the evening like a finely tuned theatre of cuisine in a setting that is as elegant as it is sublime.
A lovely cheese course of specially selected fromage and desert of black truffle ice cream and yoghurt sorbet with English strawberries are crisp and refreshing finales to an alluring evening of sheer culinary perfection.
The Aquarius Spa at Whatley Manor is an immensely impressive affair, with large enclosed Jacuzzi baths and seamless treatment facilities.
Like the rest of Whatley Manor, it seems to hew to a mantra of exceptionalism as a way of life, and massage treatments there are nothing short of heavenly.
It is a brilliant afternoon to wander through the outer gardens from the fountain and the flower beds, down past the bench alongside the open pastureland. The hill gives way a full quarter mile to the meadow alongside the River Avon.
This ancient English stream has flowed here for centuries, as the sun gleams its multi-colored reflective glory in the water under the willow tree.
Cattle are gathering across the way, and trundle single file along the hilltop past where the river bends. Ascending back up to the manor house is like awakening from a dream or emerging from a painting by Renoir.
The grand house of Whatley Manor stands like a glittering monument of Cotswold stone to time and history across a gently sloping open field of shimmering green.
The sun casts its golden glow across the estate as another day blends the bucolic sunset into an ethereal eternity.
The sign of a great resort is a place where every moment at every turn has a grand serenity to it, a seamless elegance, a timeless sensibility that harkens to art and architecture and cuisine. One of the great qualities here is the sheer remoteness of the estate, the glorious time capsule of beauty that exists once arriving, and the sheer pleasure of being enveloped by it.
Whatley Manor is a pristine Relais & Chateaux resort oasis of stunning distinction that truly elevates the definition of elegance and serenity. As lovely as the experience is the excitement of discovering this intoxicating retreat of Cotswold’s golden elegance, hidden away down a winding road, a majestic presence for the soul, high above the ancient river Avon.
Standard Rooms start at around $500 a night, while Deluxe rooms are about $800. Suites are available starting at around $1000 per night, the Deluxe suite is $1200, while the Grand Suite runs about $1400 a night.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal