It may sound cliché, but approaching the Burleigh Court Hotel feels just a little bit like revisiting a slower time. I was initially struck by the ivy coated stonework and Georgian architecture on the final leg of our drive, which was a far cry from the city views as we left London to head to the Cotswolds for two nights of relaxation. The illusion of having been transported to a more leisurely era continues into the manor home itself, where every detail is imbued with a sense of simple, yet indulgent luxury. Stepping over the threshold, I felt the rush of the city fall away.
Our room, “The Foxglove,” was outfitted with a balance of decadence and simplicity that both charmed, and impressed. As a room in their romantic category, it’s finished off with a whirlpool bath and lavish four-poster bed that tempted me to spend our stay happily tucked away in our suite with a book.
However, far more tempting, was the view from the patio. The recently updated manor home is perched on a hillside overlooking the Golden valley, near Stroud. They’ve taken full advantage of the picturesque view, so the absolute first thing we did after unpacking was settle onto the patio to take it all in, and enjoy some cheeky post-travel cocktails. This became a habit during our time as guests of the manor – after breakfast, we’d stroll out with the remainder of our morning coffee and watch the Burleigh Court bees buzz from their hives to daffodils and violet blossoms. In the evening, we’d sit by lovely cedar wood fires and watch the lights in the idyllic valley glowing up at us.
The true crown jewel of experiencing Burleigh Court though, is the food – but not just the decadent meals served in the Oak Room Restaurant. One of the more unique activities that Burleigh Court has to offer is guided foraging tours led by Kitchen Gardener and Foraging Expert Emanuelle. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect going into a foraging tour, being a complete novice to England’s edible plants. But Emanuelle’s approach to teaching starts with the basics, and her expertise is so far reaching that she has an impeccable ability to explain how to identify what is edible (and what is not) even if you go in with no base knowledge. As we explored the Burleigh Court grounds (and beyond) we nibbled on fresh bronze fennel, discussed the best means of foraging stinging nettles without being stung, and learned to identify edible plants in the mint family, with our questions being expertly answered along the way. Ever since, I’ve found myself identifying edibles quietly to myself even in my own garden, with an unfamiliar craving for stinging nettle tea.
What Emanuelle teaches, she also practices in the Burleigh Court garden – and that mentality of sustainability extends to the kitchen of the Oak Room Restaurant as well. The restaurant itself is currently targeting three AA Rosette status, and features a menu that is not only prepared with local ingredients, but provides a modern approach to traditional Cotswold cuisine. The artistry of each course is obvious, even to the untrained eye. I don’t just mean visually (though each plate we received, from my cashew pâté starter to my partner’s honey glazed duck breast main course, was indeed a work of art), I mean in the
careful and intentional pairing of sustainably sourced ingredients. The menu rotates with the seasonal availability of ingredients, and as summer approaches even more of Burleigh Court’s own garden produce will be woven into their dishes.
Alongside their traditional afternoon tea and dinner menus, in 2021 Burleigh Court added wine tastings to their schedule of events. On our final evening, after spending my afternoon reading and soaking in that whirlpool bath I mentioned, we made our way downstairs for one such event. We began outside, and sipped a crisp Italian bubbly paired with delicate canapés, while watching the sun descend over the valley accompanied by the sweeping calls of evening birdsong.
When the last light faded, we moved into the warmth of the dining room for our remaining paired courses and wines. The wine selections we enjoyed were not only expertly paired, but were also selected from vineyards that use organic, biodynamic growing practices. Even in their wine menu, the Burleigh Court Hotel champions their devotion to sustainability.
As our evening drew to a close, I found myself struggling to remember that I was, in fact, at an event, in a hotel. Other attendees’ laughter resounded in the intimate space, and our sommelier for the evening shared the details of our wine pairings as if chatting with a room of his closest friends. It was in those small moments that it became clear what makes a stay at the Burleigh Court Hotel so unforgettable: during your stay, you’re not regarded as a traveler, escaping for an evening or two. You’re regarded, truly, as a guest of the manor.
Hotel rates for 2022 start from £139 for a classic room and £209 for the Romantic Room category. They offer rooms in five categories: Classic, Cosy, Superior, Noteworthy, and Romantic.
The Wild Foodie Foraging Experience is priced from £69 per person; £138 per couple, and includes a three-hour Foraging Walk followed by a two-course lunch. www.burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk/wild-food-foraging
By Gabrielle Scarlett