There are some hotels in the world which simply keep on giving. Endless doorways of luxury, spiral staircases which lead to world-class spas and a multitude of lounges that you can’t help but get lost in with every turn. All that is certainly true when talking about Whatley Manor. A beautifully restored Cotswold manor house hotel and spa nestled deep within the market town of Malmesbury. It has that wow effect on arrival too. Hotel guests approach the huge wooden gates which automatically open up to the hotels driveway. Hand your keys over and you car is whisked away to safety and bags delivered directly to your room.
Whatley Manor was originally built-in the 19th century and formed part of an estate including the farm and was then called Twatley Manor. Moving hands through various owners, it wasn’t until 1987 when Whatley Manor became a hotel for the first time. Imagining this as someones house seems to me rather unimaginable, given the scale of the property and the endless grounds. We started to the rear of the property and took ourselves on a mini tour which offered both beauty and many surprises.
A game of croquet on the lawn, glass of wine on the terrace or a walk down the hill to the lakes, words can’t begin to describe just how peaceful it is here. We also learnt that during this estates time as a hotel, its current owners Marco and Alix Landolt stayed at Whatley Manor in the 90’s and when Whatley Manor came up for sale in 2000 they quickly snapped it up and restored it to the grade 2 listed beauty you see it as today.
A total of 12 acres and 26 distinctive gardens – many of which have been based on original 1920’s plans. As you continue to wonder through the grounds you’ll discover all the estates walled gardens and hidden enclaves. We came across a serene water feature of tall lilies sprouting water from their leaves and a full-bloom rose garden which smelt incredible. Whoever the head gardener is here – they deserve a medal.
With that impending rain looming over us we headed back around to the front of the property, passing the converted barn stable rooms and outdoor deluxe suite. The door of the suite was open and we had a quick peak – it was rather impressive I can tell you! Though not quite as impressive as we were to discover of our room later.
If you fancy walking around the grounds in style, make sure you pick up a pair of the Veuve Clicquot wellington boots – my only question is where do I get a pair of my own!
With its new owners, Whatley Manor opened its doors in 2003 and has managed to preserve a unique character from past times for guests to be able to feel as though they’re inside a private home, rather than a large hotel and you really do feel like part of the family. It was also no surprise that a year later in 2004 the hotel joined the luxury Relais & Châteaux family and Pride of Britain Hotels group. Through the lobby, we made our way to the main lounge area while waiting for our room to be prepared. The hotel even has its own cinema for those seeking a private screening experience and adds to list of many thing to do while staying here.
The safari lounge as I’ve decided to name it was a great little place to enjoy an afternoon tea or a light lunch with a few too many glasses of Champagne.
We settled ourselves in at the bar instead and enjoyed a couple of sandwiches with a glass of wine and just as we finished – our room was ready. I always get so excited when checking into a room as you never quite know what to expect and photos online just never do them justice.
We were staying in room 24 – The Grand Suite. This gargantuan suite spans the second floor of the main house and is south-facing with some lovely views out over the Wiltshire countryside. As you enter the room you’ll find a lounge area with a concealed TV in the cupboard. Follow through to the landing and climb a couple of stairs you’ll discover a second seating area with writing desk and behind a small chaise lounge.
The exposed wooden beams really add feature and comfort to the room and is complimented by some beautiful furnishings and fabrics which create a sense of luxury. A large bed, more chairs and a TV which we never managed to switch on – always a good sign in my opinion. My trusty Ted Baker holdall made the journey with us too.
It wasn’t until later that evening we even realised our room had two bathrooms. One is hidden and located at the end of the bedroom up a few stairs and is equipped with just a sink basin and toilet – perfect for during the night when walking through a pitch black room can be quite traitorous. The main spectacle was of course the master bathroom. A bathroom of dreams if you will. Huge in size, double bowl sink unit, shower, toilet and a stand alone bath designed by Philippe Stark. Champagne and candles, obviously.
Before dinner we had a quick game of chess, something I love indulging in when staying at hotels and Whatley Manor have a perfect table to enjoy it at. We then sat ourselves down for dinner in The Dining Room. A two Michelin starred restaurant which is overseen by executive chef Niall Keating who is currently working incredibly hard to continue Whatley Manor’s reputation as an established destination restaurant. Read all about my full dining experience in The Dining Room. For those looking for a more casual dining affair then head to the Scandinavian style designed Grey’s Brasserie.
Still rather full from a mammoth twelve course tasting menu the night before we woke up early and made our way downstairs to the spa. The Aquarias Spa at Watley Manor is the epitome of relaxation. Face and body treatments by Natura Bisse, hydrotherapy pool complete with airbed, airtub, neck massage jets and air bench. A gorgeous swim-out pool with massage jets. A Tepidarium with heated stone recliners, salt scrub showers and experience showers – as well as thermal cabins such as the calidarium, steam grotto, laconium and Sauna. Pop to the spa cafe between all of this relaxation for a drink and refreshments.
Breakfast the following morning was set in the main dining room and offered a fantastic buffet selection, as well as an a la carte offering. It’s rather special and so shouldn’t be missed.
We sadly had to depart from Whatley Manor but it was done with great reluctance as we really needed two nights to fully experience everything this hotel has to offer. A destination restaurant, world-class spa and impressive rooms – there are so many reasons why a return visit is in order. If you’re looking for a magical night to create memories then look no further because Whatley Manor will do all of that – plus more.
NB: My stay was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.