A couple of weeks ago we were invited to visit The Manor Country House nr Bicester. Having been residents of Bucks for almost 50 years, I thought I knew every hotel within an hours drive and in fact beyond (I should do as my day job is editor of a national wedding magazine and blog).
Delighted to be invited, I dragged Mr Foxy away from his usual weekend of sport and newspapers for a little jaunt up the M40. Whilst we had googled this hotel, neither of us knew what to expect. How could we have both missed this hotel? Mr Foxy used to live 10 minutes from it’s location!
The sun was shining down upon us as we arrived at Weston On The Green, we swung into the gravel drive through impressive gates and gazed upon what we can only describe as the most quintassentially English manor house! If the hotel was as good as it’s facade, we knew this was a trip worth taking. We were desperate for some R&R and this was most definitely a case of so far, so good!
We parked and entered the house through a huge heavy red door. Immediately you step into a very large hall, terribly impressive with the odour of a smouldering fire burning. Instantly overwhelmed by the content and obvious history I was in my element! For those that do not know, I am a history buff or geek as Mr Foxy calls me. My passion is Tudor,there is not much I do not know about these times. I felt instantly at home and could not wait to explore further. By this point Mr Foxy is giving me the ‘look’, it is the look I get when he knows I am on a mission to discover and absorb information. I have a very stupid grin on my face and inside am jumping up and down like a 2 year old.
We were shown to our room by the lovely receptionist. Our room was the Bridal Suite (how apt!). We entered into a vestibule, then down a long corridor into a very palatial lounge and even larger bedroom! Stunning decor, the rooms were full of historical pieces and paintings. Once I had finished the now mandatory Facebook live we went off to explore the house. I will refer to it as a house as opposed to The Manor as it has a homely feel, it is instantaniously welcoming.
With the sun still shining we took a walk around the gorgeous grounds. Manicured lawns, topiary hedges, even a pool (although being winter this was closed awaiting it’s pre-season clean). Tennis for those feeling active, champagne on the lawn for this feeling romantic. With camera and phone in hand we walked (plus a quick facetime to my friend and wedding colleague Kathryn about how gorgeous this place was and how much we HAD to come here for a styled shoot).
About 3pm we settled into the snug with a crisp glass of wine for moi, a cold beer for Mr Foxy and a chance to relax and read the papers. I spent the next hour reading all aboutthe history of the house from Saxon times through to the Tudors and it’s association with Queen Elizabeth I (whose portrait sat above our bed), through to modern times. I am always fascinated how these great houses are passed down through families and particularly as this one became the property of Henry VIII when he was claiming everything for himself. You can read the full history of the house on their website as I fully appreciate that you want to know if The Manor is worthy of a stay and not a lecture from me on heritage.
Following our lazy snug time, during which we had several conversations with other residents (we met a little dog called Lady Foxy! staying with her ma and pa – yes it is dog friendly). We retired to our rather expansive room for a nice cup of tea and to get ready for dinner.
Walking into the restaurant is literally the funniest thing! We were dining in the great hall, a magnificent Tudor splendor. All of the guests we had seen in the snug were suddenly our dinner companions. Dishes were served, wine poured, conversations ensued. It was a glorious evening, I love how a true Brit can strike up deep and meaningful interludes with people they have never met and will never see again, it is a marvellous thing!
For dinner I chose the baked camberbert with chillies and honey; Mr Foxy went for the sauteed wild mushrooms on toast as this had been recommended to us. For mains I opted for the slow roasted belly pork and Mr F had the sirloin steak. What can we say! The food is excellent and just the right portions (no Mr Creosote here). Every mouthful was perfection, and being perfectly honest some of the best food we have tasted (and we have tasted a lot!).
We had planned to join our fellow diners in the snug for more drinks but the food and days walking hit us, so we retired early. The following morning we awoke from the most deep sleep. You know that moment when you wake up and it takes you a minute to remember where you are? That was me! I opened the curtains and gazed upon the countryside just thinking how lucky I am to visit the best and finest hotels we have in theUK; even better I get to write about them!
Following a hearty breakfast (don’t you love bacon and eggs) we got the papers and relaxed with a coffee. I left Mr Foxy to this Sunday morning ritual, he looked comfy in a big chair with the fire roaring and I went off to take a look at the wedding fair that was happening that day. I took the opportunity to say hello to some of the suppliers, meet themodels and generally have a sneaky peak at what was going on that day.
With the manor filling up with suppliers, decor and brides-to-be, we decided now would be a good time to leave. Poor Mr Foxy is absorbed into wedding world literally 24-7 with my job so I thought he did deserve a weekend off PLUS this fabulous house is one of our recommended venues to our couples on our wedding website.
We checked out and as we closed the heavy red door behind us it was with some sadness. Luckily for me Jess who is their Sales & Marketing Guru told me during my morning wander that they were opening a spa! There is my salvation! I have asked Jess if we can come back and take a look when this is open as a spa is the perfect addition to this weekend retreat.
We will be back, we will go for lunch when we are doing our Bicester Village homage (happens quite regularly). We will go to the spa. We will do a wedding shoot here. We just have to, it is a little bit of heaven right on our doorstep.