Why should I go now?
The English countryside is at its most beautiful in the final few weeks of summer; leaves are turning golden, mornings are bright and fresh, and the evenings are still long. Nestled within a thousand acres of lush fields and wild gardens, Gravetye Manor offers a serene escape from city life.
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What’s the lowdown?
Once the home of celebrated Irish gardener William Robinson, Gravetye is a grand Elizabethan manor house with gardens easily as beautiful and varied as those at the neighbouring estate of Wakehurst (Kew’s offshoot). It’s an hour from London by train and close by to several National Trust properties as well as a vintage railway. Unsurprisingly then, the hotel tends to attract an older crowd; most guests have been coming to the hotel for years, which gives the whole place a homely, relaxed feel.
Times are changing though. Last year saw the opening of the hotel’s new, ultra contemporary Michelin-star restaurant The Dining Room. The space, much like head chef George Blogg‘s menu, focuses on the natural surroundings with wall-to-ceiling windows and tables positioned right up against the glass. At night, the gardens are prettily light by bulbs.
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The restaurant’s tasting menu follows the concept of ‘Time & Place’ with a series of small, delicate dishes inspired by the estate’s various locations such as it’s bountiful walled garden (in summer this garden supplies 95 per cent of the hotel’s fresh produce). Amongst our favourites were scallops cured in pickled elderflower, turbot with lobster bisque and caramelised white chocolate with apricot.
Although facilities are somewhat limited, there’s a croquet lawn and several cosy lounge areas for relaxing with a book. Reception supplies laminated maps of walking routes varying from one to four hours (including suggestions of pub stops along the way) and the staff are refreshingly unstuffy.
Throughout the hotel, the style is classic grandeur with wood panelled walls, thick drape curtains, padded window seats and plush sofas. Our room, Holly, was at the front of the house with stunning views of the green, sloping countryside and a huge four-poster bed. The bathroom was spacious and understated with piles of fluffy towels, a bathtub and shower. The welcome bowl of freshly picked strawberries felt wholesome and down-to-earth.
It’s a shame there isn’t the option of spa treatments, but that said, there is also something rather lovely about Gravetye’s homely, more grounded approach to luxury.
Rates from: £650 for an Exclusive Double Room during the summer months (approx. €700 /$750)
Book your stay: gravetyemanor.co.uk