Last week I was treated to a stay* at the newly refurbished Lords of the Manor Hotel in the Cotswolds, and I can confidently say it was one of the best experiences I've ever had at a hotel. The service was impeccable and the rooms were spacious, well designed, and thoroughly welcoming! I also had the opportunity to take part in a 6 course sparkling wine and food tasting, hosted by the hotel in collaboration with Rathfinny Estate, creators of the Sussex Sparkling Wines, which felt like a once in a lifetime experience!
"The service was impeccable and the rooms were spacious, well designed, and thoroughly welcoming!"
The Common Spaces
There are two types of historical hotels that you're likely to stumble across on any travels you may take to the United Kingdom. The first is the one that initially looks quite appealing, but, upon closer inspection, is actually falling apart - between the old beams you'll find dust and dirt, showers that don't drain, and mattresses older than the internet. The second is crisp, clean, warm, welcoming, and in awe-inspiringly good condition, the kind that one walks into and thinks "ah, I want to redecorate my entire home to look just like this place!" Thankfully, I can confirm, in no uncertain terms, that Lords of the Manor is the second.
Each of the common rooms are decorated with lavish, bold wallpaper and with furniture that was created with Mulberry fabrics. The styling of the rooms take what could be very imposing spaces and turn them into charming common areas to sit and drink or dine with friends. Lords of the Manor has three spaces to dine, a smaller dining room, a larger restaurant area, and a private dining section which can be reserved, and is also where I enjoyed the incredible 6 course meal.
"The shower made you feel like you were standing under a waterfall!"
One of the staff members, Hannah, was kind enough to give us a tour of every style of room, and let us take pictures and videos to be able to share with you all. Lords of the Manor has 25 rooms, of which no two are alike - each is decorated in a charming meld of British and French Provincial styles. They are also incredibly accommodating in every aspect. For example, I am allergic to feather bedding and pillows, so they removed all of them before my stay. They also offer accessible friendly rooms, which offer all of the same glamour and charm of the others, and pet friendly rooms, with pet bed and treats included!
The rooms have all of the modern amenities you could hope for, from bathtubs and showers in every room to USB chargers beside the beds to plug in your phones and various electronics. The mattresses were new and incredibly comfortable, the bedding was spotless, and the shower made you feel like you were standing under a waterfall!
"I somehow doubt anything I do from here on out will top this experience."
This was the first time I was ever able to attend a wine and food pairing event like this, but I somehow doubt anything I do from here on out will top this experience (thought if it does you will be the first to know!)
As opposed to finding a wine that would pair well with a pre-planned meal, the chef, Charles Smith, created an entirely new menu to pair perfectly with the 6 different Rathfinny wines we were served. He even went so far to create a modified menu for my mom, because of her allergy to fish and shellfish!
Besides having a marvelous selection of sparkling wines, Rathfinny Estates are powered by 100% renewable energy, which is no small feat for any business, let alone a vineyard and winery. Their grapes are grown in the mineral rich clay of the Sussex Coastline, and their fermentation and blending processes, along with their completely customized bottles, give their wines an incredibly distinct flavor.
"Every single dish we had this evening was a concoction of perfectly balanced flavors. "
Course 1 was a duo of canapé's to open up the palette, and where we were presented with our first, and my favorite, wine of the evening, the Rathfinny 2018 Cuvee. The wine was a first press of their 'house-style' Sussex sparkling, and it absolutely blew me away. This is the kind of sparkling wine I'd love to have at a big life event like a wedding!
Course 2 was shredded Cornish crab with small circles of pickled cucumber, avocado, and finger lime on a bed of clear tomato jelly, served with the Rathfinny Blanc de Blancs, which was my mom's favorite sparkling wine of the evening. The Cornish crab was delicate and sweet and it's flavors were amplified by the pops of vibrant lime and cucumber. Every single dish we had this evening was a concoction of perfectly balanced flavors.
My mom had Brown Butter Roasted Cauliflower with pickled turmeric yoghurt and lime, which was a new flavor combination for us both. We both agreed that we needed to find a way to recreate the yoghurt sauce when we went back home because it was divine!
Course 3 boasted Steamed turbot, which was the most insanely rich and meaty fish I've ever had, with fennel, oysters, and a caviar cream sauce made from the same wine we were served, the Blanc de Blanc Magnum. Turbot has jumped to the top of the list of my favorite fish, purely because of this fantastic meal.
Mom's dish was quail nestled on sweetcorn and wild mushroom risotto, which I, of course, stole a bite of, and it was remarkable! If you've never had it, quail is everything great about dark meat chicken, without the overt greasiness that often accompanies it.
Course 4 was fascinating, though I will admit the most challenging to my palette. I pride myself on trying any and all different types of food at least once, so that was what I was determined to do with crispy veal sweetbreads, lemon, capers, broccoli rabe, and brown butter sauce. Now I'm a huge fan of capers, and basically all greens, but I'd never tried sweetbreads, aka the pancreas. The flavor was wonderful, it was perfectly seared and the acidic sauce expertly cut through the fattiness of the sweetbreads, as did the Cradle Valley Pinot Gris, which was our only still wine of the evening, but for me the texture was just a bit too spongy to be able to really enjoy. I'm very glad I tried it, and tried it in the best way possible, but I don't think I'd reach for it again.
Course 5 was MAGICAL, and I really do mean that. Our plates were graced with sous vide then grilled venison, salsify, beetroot, and a sour cherry and black pepper sauce. This is also my first time tasting venison, and it was like the most perfect filet mingon I'd ever had, and then somehow even better than that! Even after such a filling meal, I would have gladly had three more portions of it. It was perfection, and the sour cherry sauce excellently complimented the fruity notes of the Blanc de Noirs we were served beside it.
Course 6 was the dessert course, served with my second favorite Sussex Sparkling wine of the evening, their rose. Listed simply on the menu as "rhubarb and custard," this desert was a rhubarb sorbet, in a delicate pastry shell, topped with custard cream, on a pool of rhubarb jelly, decorated with edible flowers, chunks of rhubarb and stem ginger. It was beautiful, instagramable, and disappeared from my plate in mere moments!
My stay at Lords of the Manor was wonderful, and I strongly recommend it for anyone looking to be well and truly spoiled on a weekend getaway (or a wedding!).