The joy of writing about a place that I’m already dreaming of returning to. Foxhill Manor, part of the Farncombe estate, is an Arts & Crafts country manor house turned into a cosy, all-frills but no ego hideaway wonder. A place that won’t just rejuvenate but will inspire.
Lucky travellers are spoilt for choice in the Cotswolds, but this place really takes some beating and if you’re on the hunt for a special break, stop here. Halt the search. Save your precious time. And thank me later.
On arrival one of the fresh-faced team (there is only a handful of them so by the end of day one you’ll know their names and they’ll know yours), will come to meet you in the driveway. As if an old friend arriving at their house, they will lead you in and get you something hot and steaming or cold and bubbling as you prefer. Don’t mention the words check-in or look for a formal reception area, those are for hotels. This is a home. And for the time you’re there, really it’s like it’s yours, shared with a small bunch (8 rooms only) of like-minded housemates.
As our first night away from our baby daughter, we went for the ‘Full Fox’, meaning everything was included (aside from some of the glorious looking wines hidden in the cellar). But beyond that, the service is entirely at your disposal. No meal times. No menus. Just what you want, when you want.
We started by planning a picnic walk, a gorgeous hamper was packed for us with everything you could possibly need; all locally sourced foods and cakes that had been baked that morning. The weather, however, wasn’t on our side so we enjoyed it in their garden.
After dropping the bags in our room (‘Oak’ – an unbeatable choice although having seen the others you can’t go wrong) we toured the house sparkles in hand, popping through the snack-filled pantry full of locally sourced goodies, peeping into the cinema room as a ’90s classic enthralled young couple and taking in the 400 acre gardens, which surround the house and act as a gateway to the walks and treks in the rolling country beyond. If you do choose to trek to one of the local villages, the team will pop down and pick you up once you’re ready from wherever you’ve wandered to. You’re beginning to get the idea.
Dinner for us started in the gardens with some snacks of the chief choosing, including some squid ink crackers, salmon mousse and olives, before heading inside to one of the smaller dining rooms on offer (you can, of course, choose wherever you’d like to dine). Earlier in the day, we’d met the small team in the kitchen and had a chat about what we fancied. Based on what they had freshly delivered, what was in season and what we loved. After a long drool-inducing deliberation, we plumped for a two-person beef wellington with fresh greens, which followed on from their recommendations of Thai styled sea bass and prawn dishes. We finished with an unplanned chocolate fondant and an Eton mess meringue that couldn’t be refused. It will come as no surprise that is was all utterly delicious. A talented bunch of chefs with great produce and without hundreds of diners to juggle. The team have time to be present in your evening but effortlessly disappear and reappear. Casual but eagled eyed.
If only we had the energy to explore their wine cellar, but actually a homemade hot chocolate in bed was exactly what we craved… real chocolate too!
Waking up from the first good night’s sleep in some months (our girl Florrie is worth it, of course!), having breakfast in the bath seemed to be completely appropriate in celebration. Fortunately though, it wasn’t the last meal of our quick night away, as the team twisted our arms to enjoy spicy some eggs and smoked kippers in the lush greenery before heading back. I mean, if you’re a foodie like me, you will love it here!
Foxhill has clearly been planned to perfection so it never feels like it’s trying too hard, which is remarkable considering the standards they set. We can’t wait to come back (it is home, after all).
Obviously had to include my all time favourite photo below, thanks James!
Katy Hulands is a travel and lifestyle blogger and social media consultant for the hospitality sector. She started the Unwrapped Series to uncover those special places (and things) that deserve the spotlight.