We had the dreamiest escape to the country last weekend, with a good mixture of fun, music and dancing at a festival – along with some much needed recovery downtime for this pregnant mama-to-be – with lots of eating, relaxing and breathing in the fresh Oxfordshire air (and I do mean it when I say there is something very special in the air in this particular part of England)…
First stop on our way to Wilderness Festival, was a quick pit stop at Soho Farmhouse (my fave) for a spot of lunch, to fuel us for the long day ahead…
Fed and watered, we ventured across to the festival site (with just a quick change of footwear). Now I am no heavy festival goer myself; although my husband works in music with touring and festivals and I am very fortunate enough to have access to some great tickets and shows – I am by no means a natural camper (especially now that I’m over 8 months pregnant!). So we stayed at a local hotel and popped by the festival during the days and early evenings (my ideal set up). Fortunately for us it stayed dry the whole weekend we were there (YAY), although I do love a pair of good Hunter wellies at a festival (you know, just in case).
H&M Jacket (old) – similar here
ASOS Maternity Jeans
Jimmy Choo Sunglasses
Mon Purse Bag
I met up with some of my favourite blogger girls whilst at the festival, and still managed to have so much fun while drinking my water and virgin cocktails (!) – rather compensating with the amount of delicious food served at the festival (I mean, you just can’t go wrong with veggie Gyozas and truffle Mac & Cheese…).
On the Sunday, we spent the morning in Oxford (25 minutes from the site) – somewhere I have never really spent much time in. We got there quite early, as we’d decided to go punting along the river. We managed to get there just before two bus loads filled with tourists descended to the boating station, and managed to jump on our guided tour boat, for a relaxing journey along the river… Such a gorgeous spot and location.
Topshop Maternity Jeans
Jimmy Choo Sunglasses
In the afternoon, we popped by the festival for a few hours to catch some relaxing music and lunch in the sun, before packing up and setting course for our final destination for the weekend, checking into the magical Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for 24 hours…
You get the jiist? I mean, you won’t get much more of contrast to a festival than this place (understatement of the century). Albeit Wilderness is one of the most refined festivals I have ever been to – the Belmond is just something else. And a very welcoming contrast at that… Sure, the festival was leafy and green, and parts of Oxford town centre itself is very countryfied – but driving down the windy roads to get to this grand yet cozy hotel, located in a secluded Oxfordshire village, was just what my body and mind needed. The Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, run by celebrated chef Raymond Blanc, is straight-up old-fashioned luxury. From start to finish, the service is impeccable (I might even go as far as saying it’s the best service we’ve ever encountered at any hotel). Granted, we were only there for a day, but during our short stay, the attention to detail, the warm, yet professional service and overall attentiveness was first class (I truly believe that every single waiter there knew about my no-sugar/no meat/no alcohol request!).
The grounds are stunning and surprisingly vast. There’s a tranquil Japanese garden, a mushroom valley, orchards, large pond ringed by tumble-down historic stone walls, and sculptures throughout – not to mention space to play garden games, an impressive vegetable and garden patch, outside seating for al fresco cocktails, lots of stunning walks off the estate into the rural countryside, or a short walk to the most picturesque little village of Great Milton… So much to see, so much to do, too little time!
Mint Velvet Jumper – similar here
Topshop Maternity Jeans
& Other Stories Slippers
Mon Purse Bag
There are 32 rooms, all of which are individually handcrafted and designed with it’s own uniqueness to it. We stayed in the Lace studio suite – which had an air of French boudoir to it. With a display of handcrafted lace, rich velvets and crushed silk, the room was intimate yet spacious, and ultra romantic. Although the room was stunning at impressive at first glance, the overall room decor did come as a bit of surprise to us – as it’s in such a contrast to the hotel, with it’s very traditional English style. When that said, I loved the more modern and contemporary touches to our room; and the idea of every room having it’s completely different feel, is pretty special (and the reason why the room rates are on the higher end of the scale).
So now that I have covered the hotel, the rooms, the grounds – let’s talk about one of the other main reasons why this place is so acclaimed, with it’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Les Quat’Saisons. With Raymond Blanc as head chef, we knew we were in for a culinary treat when we opted in for the 7-course meal – all of which started with apperetifs at the hotel in the hotel lounge area – before descending into the conservatory for an evening of foodie heaven. There were so many highlights with every course, and I particularly loved that the menu was so fish and vegetable heavy (and let’s not even begin to discuss their eponymous double-storage cheese trolley…).
The next morning followed by even more food at breakfast (I still don’t know how we were both hungry after that feast the night before!), which we chose to have in our room. As you can see, we had a bit of everything on the menu, from Kippers on rye toast, to a double set of boiled eggs (just in case the first set wasn’t to our liking!), a full English, fruit platters, berries and freshly squeezed juice…
After breakfast, we ventured out on a long country walk followed by some more exploring of the grounds – in the lead up to our afternoon of cooking at the acclaimed Raymond Blanc Cookery School…
We had so much fun at the cookery school, and were surprised with how straight forward and relatively easy the cooking was. We made so many delicious and wholesome dishes – all of which Sam nailed as well. All in all, a successful afternoon – and the perfect end to our mini escape to Oxfordshire…
Thank you to the Belmond Le Manoir aux quat’Saisons for hosting our stay.
Loved reading this – I have a stay booked at Le Manoir this weekend, I can’t wait.
Have an amazing time!
Perfect place for relaxing away from crowd. We are planning next year.