The Farncombe jewel
For the discerning traveller there will be nuances of high end hospitality in different establishments catering for every need but rarely will one find a destination that allows you the freedom you might expect when visiting a dear old friend eager to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. Foxhill Manor is such a destination. Just over a year after opening we are told it has firmly cemented its position as one of the UK’s finest boutique hotels. A success it puts down to its relaxed atmosphere and wonderfully personal feel. The eight-bedroom home is more in keeping to that of a private house, than of a hotel and it is the perfect place for couples and friends to pinch a book or newspaper and settle in for a night or two.
There is no reception at Foxhill Manor, no set meal times or menus. Guests have all-hours access to the kitchen, - with a house chef on call 24/7 to satisfy any craving - a help yourself pantry with homemade cakes and treats and plenty of complimentary Champagne, soft drinks and afternoon cakes are available in the lounge. The elegant Arts & Crafts mansion was built in the early 20th century. Its transformation has ensured a cosy atmosphere with just the right amount of exclusivity. The original sweeping staircase, Cotswolds mullion windows and open log fires have been kept to ensure the interiors warm and characterful atmosphere while the bespoke furnishings have added a new level of comfort testifying to the estate’s link to Scandinavia, to much credit to the present proprietors the house’s history is celebrated. From the 1930s onwards, Foxhill was the family home of Henry Maudslay DFC, a brave RAC Squadron Leader who was involved in the planning and deployment of the Bouncing Bomb for the famed ‘Dam Busters’ operation in May 1943. Maudslay reached his target, but his aircraft was damaged in the bombing and tragically, shot down on the return journey. Maudslays’ family remained at Foxhill until 1954 and the lost hero’s surviving nieces confirm that little has changed at the Manor since their wartime childhood here – on the outside at least.
Just like the design, the service is also immaculate yet disarmingly down to earth. Foxhill Manor prides itself of its ‘whatever, whenever’ policy a very distinctive feature in service it brings to its customers. Guests are invited to chat to the Chef about their favourite foods and enjoy a personalised four course meal. It was fascinating being allowed to enter this heart of the house and speak in detail about what might appear later on our immaculately set dinner table. Equally, if guests want mac n’ cheese or a midnight bacon butty in the media room, they can just say the word, we settled for popcorn enjoying one of our favourite films. In line with the homely feel of this magical place meals are served wherever a guest chooses and there is also a wonderful selection of house specials and gourmet picnic hampers.
Foxhill Manor sits in its own delightful gardens and enjoys stunning views across the Vale of Evesham and the surrounding countryside, to the Malverns and Black Mountains of Wales. It is on the same 400-acre private estate as the newest addition to the Farncombe family, The Fish, and the celebrated Dormy House where we enjoyed an equally memorable stay shortly after it opened its doors. Guests of Foxhill Manor have access to the full range of estate activities, including quad biking, archery, horse-riding, House Spa at Dormy House and Dormy’s restaurants. Everything and anything apparently can be arranged by Foxhill Manor’s dedicated team of house managers who are part concierge, part butler, part local guide and who are on hand 24/7. However don’t miss wandering off on your own, walking through the sloping fields towards the neighbouring picturesque village of Broadway but be sure to put on your wellies provided at the door. If you feet tire and you don’t fancy making the trek back on foot the friendly staff will be happy to pick you up.
It was with some reluctance we left our beautiful chestnut room on the day of departure, realising there is no better way to relax than to spend time in the company of sweet sounds of the country side with nature at your feet, a feast for the eyes. Such an adventure in the English country side is something to look forward to every time for every season. It won’t be long before we plan our next visit to Farncombe.