One of the most popular destinations for a weekend getaway from London, the Cotswolds has no shortage of boutique hotels to choose from. It's actually pretty difficult to find somewhere that you won't have a pleasant stay, but if you're looking for something unique - one of those hotels that you will remember and no doubt return to, time and time again - Foxhill Manor is a cut above the rest.
Why? Luxury is no longer about being over the top - in decor, service or food - it's about understated brilliance, and ultimately a feeling of comfort. In a hotel, we want somewhere that feels like home but better - a place you can curl up in an armchair, feet tucked up beneath you; where you can have your meals at any time of day or fix yourself a snack; where you can pour yourself a fourth glass of wine and pad along the corridor in your slippers to the TV room without judging looks (even if it is 3pm).
We also want to be spoiled rotten - in the spa, in the restaurant or simply in bed linen. It's an exceptionally difficult balance to strike, but Foxhill - described as "a private country house hotel" - nails it, largely due to the staff, though the gorgeous grade-II-listed building and help-yourself drinks trolley are further sweeteners.
There are only eight guest bedrooms (including three suites), so this is akin to staying at the country pile of the friend you wish you had. Each room is decorated differently - low-key and comfortable; think pretty wallpapers, curtains that satisfyingly swish when you draw them, soft carpets and mammoth beds with tombstone-sized pillows. Exactly the kind of place you want to tumble into after a long, windy walk or languid dinner. We particularly like the window-side twin freestanding bathtubs in the Oak suite, complete with countryside views.
What's for breakfast?
Whatever you like. There are no set menus at Foxhill - guests are encouraged to wander into the kitchen and chat to head chef Richard Thorpe, who will happily whip up a plate of something divine for even the fussiest of diners. Eat your breakfast wherever takes your fancy - this is your home for the weekend, after all. We particularly like the first-floor window table, for its privacy and more views.
How about lunch and dinner?
Who says you'll be obeying "normal" meal times while you're here? "Linner" can be a thing, if you like. When hunger calls, potter to the kitchen to survey a blackboard of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients - scallops, pork belly, roast chicken, John Dory, asparagus, beetroot, cheeses (the list goes on) - and have a chat with chef to design your bespoke dish. It's really something quite special, as are the kitchen team, who show unrelenting patience and charm despite having a stream of guests traipsing in and out of their immaculate workspace.
Is there a bar?
Yes, though we think prefer the drinks trolley in the sitting room. Help yourself to a complimentary range of soft drinks, spirits, wine and house champagne as you settle into a deliciously plump sofa with a book or board game.
Guests are able to use any of the facilities on the estate, which is home to two other hotels - Dormy House and The Fish Hotel - each of which have their own restaurants. Staff will happily ferry you between the properties. Don't miss a visit to Dormy's state-of-the-art spa.
Things I should know
The hotel is "super" dog-friendly but less keen on children - no under 12s allowed. If the weather is ghastly and you feel like cosying up, head to the snug cinema room to hunker down for a movie marathon. Don't miss the pantry at the top of the stairs either, stocked with so many snacks you won't be able to resist a clandestine midnight feast.
Within a short walk you can find...
Borrow some wellies and make tracks over the fields to Broadway, one the Cotswolds poster villages for its traditional honey-stone houses. If you're feeling fatigued, give the staff a bell and they'll drive down and pick you up from whichever pub or local gallery you've instilled yourself in.