Whatley Manor: A luxury pre-wedding getaway in the Cotswolds
By The Sloaney Bride
When your partner proposes, you have that magical few moments when there is nothing else in the world that is more important than your relationship. As soon as you utter yes and become a fiancé, the celebrations become a whirlwind of excitement and then the wedding planning begins.
There is so much to do when it comes to organising a wedding, especially if you have a busy day job to manage too. Weddings have become very commercial in recent years and while your dream day is important, it is also essential not to lose sight of the fundamental piece of the jigsaw that brings the whole occasion to the fore. That is the relationship with your future husband.
With only a week to go until my big day, I decided to take some time out with my fiancé and escape the chaos of the final build up for an evening of pure, uninterrupted luxury. We wanted some time just for the two of us.
A staycation was on the cards as I was certainly not in the frame of mind to tackle an airport just as many of the schools break up and also, there are lots of beautiful retreats close to home. Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa was my choice and it proved to be the perfect pre-wedding treat.
Whatley Manor is located in the Cotswolds and is a beautiful manor house that has been tastefully restored with plenty of contemporary touches also added to the interior. The suites are particularly impressive and maintain many of the traditional features such as imposing stonework and elegant wooden beams. There is a huge amount of space with a separate entrance within the initial door for many.
The Deluxe Suite has its own private entrance from the main courtyard and spans over two floors. Meanwhile the Grand Suite spans the second floor of the main house and is south facing with stunning views of the gardens and the Wiltshire landscape.
Apart from the beautifully appointment rooms, chocolate box architecture and perfectly manicured gardens, other highlights at Whatley Manor include the spa and two Michelin star restaurant, which is overseen by chef Martin Burge.
We arrived just in time to enjoy a spa session before dinner. The spa boasts an excellent selection of treatments and I was keen to try a hydrating facial in order to make sure that my skin is in tip top condition for my big day.
The spa uses La Prairie products and these are only used in the best hotels around the world. The treatments are renowned for giving excellent results and in the run up to your wedding day, you want nothing less! I had the Cellular Hydrating Facial, which can either last for an hour or 90 minutes.
It gives the most dramatic results for stressed and fatigued skin, which is exactly how mine has been feeling in the run up to my big day. The intensive treatment combines hydrating masks, and massages with the revitalising benefits of Cellular Ampoules for the face. The results were brilliant and have so far lasted for a significant period of time.
Afterwards, I joined my fiancé in the hydro-pool, which has a range of different water massage areas including an outdoor circuit that features Jacuzzi seating.
In fact, the outdoor area is wonderful when the sun is out and would rival many plush European destinations. The spa has every facility you can think of including salt scrub showers, a serial mud chamber and thermal cabins.
Pommery Champagne is served by the glass and we enjoyed a drink on the terrace whilst admiring the immaculate gardens. The scent of Orange Blossom really added to this civilised summer experience and I would recommend those living in the local area to make the most of such a sophisticated setting.
As we relaxed the waiters presented the menu for us to browse before leading us to our seats in The Dining Room. There are three tasting menus available and these can be paired with wine or you can select your own wine for the occasion. Needless to say, the menus offer a notable selection of cuisine and the setting is very French. This falls in line with the dining experience, which is designed to be classically French but with a modern interpretation.
Highlights on the tasting menu that we chose included the native lobster that was topped with mango and coconut. It was served with a slightly spicy consomme and, while I am not normally a huge fan of lobster, this thai twist made it delicious. Scallops are one of my favourites and the hand dived scallop that was pan fried and served with pickled cockles and a mint infused seaweed broth did not fail to impress.
The lamb was also well presented but the black truffle ice cream that was dressed with lightly creamed Roquefort that followed proved one of the hero dishes. We were pleasantly surprised by the textures of clementine that were served with mandarin sorbet and juniper granite and the taste of tropical fruits that came with banana panna cotta, coconut ice cream and passion fruit curd lived up to expectations – it was incredible.
After dinner we retired to one of the big lounges to enjoy a fresh mint tea with some chocolate treats that included a light, fluffy macaroon, among other sweet mini-bites. The regal surroundings have a European influence and it is almost like sitting in a luxury chalet. In fact, while Whatley makes for an ideal summer destination, I think that it would be just as appealing on a frosty, wintery day.
The service throughout is impeccable and the staff are ready to meet your every request. This combined with the stunning setting, outstanding food and therapeutic spa facilities, makes Whatley Manor the ideal destination for a pre-wedding getaway. However, I have a feeling I will be back for a post-wedding getaway too as this has become one of my favourite places to visit for an indulgent weekend break on home soil.
Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa is located at Easton Grey, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, SN16 0RB For more information about Whatley Manor you can visit the website whatleymanor.com You can book by calling +44 (0) 1666 822 888