In search of halcyon days and epicurean nights, Food Editor Debby Donnelly-Addison takes a summer sojourn at the Cotswolds best kept secret: Burleigh Court
“You have all the time in the world” Oana assures me as she places my order of bacon French toast down on the crisp white linen of the breakfast table. “You’re here to relax”. It’s my first morning at Burleigh Court, a 200 year old, 18-room country house hotel perched high on a hill overlooking Gloucestershire’s golden valley, and I’m only just disengaging work-mode. Oana’s gentle reminder rings synonymously with the overriding feel of the building: you are, indeed, here to relax, and it’s abundantly clear that much heart has gone into ensuring you do so.
Since taking over the business in 2019, owners Corinna and James Rae have created something really rather special: a boutique retreat where you can eat well, sleep well, and feel well. The grandeur of a country house hotel with a warm, homely atmosphere, it’s the hotel equivalent of eating freshly baked cookies in an extravagant ballgown. Do not let the resplendent frontage and acres of lush gardens fool you: when you’re coming to Burleigh Court, you’re coming home.
Time to switch off
You cannot so much as walk down a hallway in Burleigh Court without stumbling across signs of the care and keen eye that have gone into the gentle restoration of the property that will no doubt appeal to a new generation of traveller. A basket of blankets in the entrance hall for al fresco drinks late into the night, warm throws casually draped upon overstuffed sofas, the soft touches that make one feel cossetted and content. The same applies to the rooms, where antique furnishings, hand printed wallpapers, and quality linens meet quirky, thoughtful design features such as retro telephones, glass carafes laden with mineral water, and botanical themed door hangers. All rooms boast a power shower and/or bath, sumptuous bedding atop marshmallow soft beds, and complimentary tea, coffee, and home-made shortbread from the kitchen downstairs. With a variety of accommodations including family friendly, pet-friendly, and a recently refurbished romantic getaway, all rooms are blessed with either panoramic views at the front of the building, or the lush greenery of the secluded garden and pool to the back. Window seats and wing backed chairs provide the perfect perches for gazing dreamingly out over the gardens and beyond.
Making a splash
As is the overriding theme at Burleigh Court, the outdoors are just as well cared for as within. The four acres of gardens, meticulously curated by a team of passionate gardeners, include a croquet lawn, oversized hammocks, deckchairs, and dining areas, amidst wildflower patches, the kitchen garden, bee hives, and a charming swing framed by a magnificent tree and sea of ruby red poppies. The outdoor Art Deco pool, created by the esteemed Sir Clough Williams Ellis, is open from mid-June to September and provides a most welcomed cooling dip on a hot summer’s day. Surrounded by loungers for those who’d rather not get their hair wet, the pool area is a great boon for those who are serious about relaxing and rejuvenating during their Cotswolds break.
Food with a view
The “Eat well” philosophy at Burleigh Court is well evidenced in their two AA-Rosette restaurant. With a strong commitment to keeping food miles low and produce standards high, all ingredients are sourced within a 30-mile radius, many of which coming from their onsite kitchen garden. The uncomplicated, seasonal menu is available to residents and non-residents alike, with the option of dining in the historic oak panelled restaurant or al-fresco on the terrace outside. The dedication to supporting local suppliers and maintaining a low carbon footprint is a refreshing change from the mass-produced offerings in the larger chain hotels, but that is the beauty of embracing the independent, modern minded properties such as Burleigh.
If you’re a meat-eater dining with a fellow carnivore, the Chateaubriand is a real treat. Served with chunky chips, buttered greens, and a delicious sauce for drizzling, the chefs at Burleigh Court know how to cook a steak to perfection. The majority of dishes are garnished with microgreens and various other goodies from the kitchen garden a few metres away, the epitome of freshness, consideration, and respect for ingredients. Allergies are carefully considered, with the kitchen staff kindly whipping up a separate sauce for me, to negate the risk of cross contamination. The drinks menu is extensive, the wine plentiful, you really could not ask for more.
A foraged feast
I was fortunate enough to take part in the Wild Foodie Foraging Experience, a new offering for Summer and Autumn this year. Led by kitchen gardener and foraging expert, Emanuelle Paulson, we took a stroll beyond the hotel grounds and into the village on the lookout for edible treats, often overlooked by the untrained eye. After a quick safety briefing on what and what not to eat (“check. Double check. Triple check. Then check again”), we toddled off down country lanes, sampling wild strawberries, lime tree leaves, even stinging nettles (the trick is to smooth down the hairy fibres as you first handle the leaf). A morning of leafy nibbles, storytelling, and a brief, refreshing downpour, ended in the hotel gardens, where we were introduced to the Burleigh bees, buzzing away in their eau de nil beehives. We are told that the bees will remain nonplussed if we respect them and their space, respect being a running theme here: the hotel interior is contemporary, yet respectful of its history. The gardens neat enough to appear curated, but with an element of wild growth to respect the greenery and its quest for sunlight. Everything you experience here is based on respect, care, consideration. A much-appreciated rarity these days.
- The newly refurbished room 2, with it’s four-poster bed and spa bath, is a real treat. Spacious, serene, with a window seat overlooking the gardens, this room would make the perfect mini-moon or anniversary stay.
- Whilst you may not want to leave your room at all, no stay is complete without an evening drink on the terrace. Granted, you lose the stunning views once the sun goes down, but bundling yourself up in a blanket under the stars and sipping a drink next to the globe shaped firepit is a very special experience indeed.
- The afternoon tea at Burleigh Court is the stuff of local legend. Pre-book to avoid disappointment.
- The exclusive foraging experience runs on limited dates and is a must for novices and seasoned foragers alike. You can check dates and prices here.
- Burleigh Court also offers/can point you in the direction of a vast array of experiences including spa treatments, floristry course, golfing, and mountain bike trails. You can check out the full list of activities on offer here.
Debby Donnelly-Addison was a guest of Burleigh Court, a boutique hideaway hotel with a 2 AA Rosette restaurant in The Cotswolds. Weekday B&B stays are priced from £119 per night. New for 2021, Burleigh has launched a Wild Foodie Foraging Experience available on select dates July-October. Priced from £60 per person, this includes a guided foraging walk and wild food lunch. To book a stay at Burleigh Court, please call 01453 883 804 or visit www.burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk.