A Cotswold Dream
Bathing by an open fire, outstanding spa treatments and a culinary feast. Calcot Manor leaves you wanting more
Review by Jo Gregory
Deep in the heart of the Gloucester countryside lies the impressive Calcot Manor & Spa. We arrive at reception where we’re greeted with friendly smiles and a cheerful welcome. We head straight to the Gumstool Inn, the hotel’s traditional village pub for a spot of lunch; not before a quick game of boules, on the lawn, en route. The hotel has a number of outdoor games as well as board games, in the lounge, for when the British weather isn’t being so kind. We settle into our seats outside and order the mackerel pate served with a crispy poached egg and a plate of charcuterie to share, washed down with a bottle of the white Bordeaux. Everything was to perfection, especially the wine, which was served at just the right temperature.
After our exceptionally long lunch (hard to move when the sun is out, and settings are just right). I head over to the newly refurbished spa area for my Rose Hydration facial. My therapist Aileen introduces herself, she tells me she’s worked at Calcot for over nine years, only affirming the sheer charm and pull of the place. She talked me through what to expect during the appointment and made sure I was happy with both the room temperature and music, and it really didn’t take me long to sink into that lovely limbo state, rarely achieved unless snoozing on a beach in the late afternoon sun. My hour facial whizzed by and I left the treatment room incredibly relaxed, knocking into pieces of furniture as I made my way down to the pool in my chilled-out state.
You could spend hours in the spa area. As well as seven treatment rooms, there’s a studio with an extensive and diverse class timetable. A heated indoor and outdoor pool and upstairs is the relaxation room complete with a sauna & steam room. The piéce de resistance is the courtyards outdoor hot tub nestled next to an open fire. A truly marvellous place to relax and catch the last of the afternoon rays, and there is something really comforting about the smell of cinders outside of winter.
My guest and I head back over to our room to freshen up before dinner. We’re staying in the Oxford room, one of the hotel’s deluxe suites in a building adjacent to the main house. The main house is actually the only original building here dating back to the 14th century however, looking at the surrounding dwellings it’s hard to mark a difference between them, the attention to detail is exquisite. There are 35 individually designed rooms and suites on offer. In each room there’s fresh fruit, a desirable mini bar and to my delight, an impressive tea selection; I do like a camomile before bed.
Feeling revitalized we crossed over to the hotel’s Conservatory restaurant for dinner, a bright and airy space with spectacular views across the Cotswold countryside. The menu is impressive, with unique pairings of flavours and varied dishes to suit all. I opt for the king prawn ravioli to start followed by the Cornish turbot with braised gem lettuce, herb gnocchi and a caviar hollandaise while my guest went for the fish soup and the gild-head bream with capers and almonds. Both of the starters were divine, my prawns were especially meaty and hit the spot. However, both mains lacked a little character and could have used a little finesse but the cheese board to finish certainly made up for it; it was a sumptuous and creamy delight.
After dinner we decide to explore the rest of the hotel and stumble upon the newest building to grace the grounds, The Barn, designed specifically for business events, weddings and entertaining it’s a versatile and well thought out space and to top it off it’s for us adults only, a nice touch to a hotel that is extremely family friendly. As well as the dedicated kid’s playground there is also a crèche, horse riding, tennis courts, woodland gymnasium and free bike hire to explore the 220 acres of glorious Cotswold meadowland. As we head back to our room, I decide I can’t leave this place without trying out the huge bathtub and enjoy a soak before sinking into once of the best sleeps I’ve had in years.
In the morning we drink tea on the terrace outside our room and enjoy a morning paper which was delivered to our door before heading over for breakfast. A delightful buffet of cereals, fresh juices, croissants and yoghurts are served however we decide to go for a cooked breakfast, my guest the full English and a mushroom omelette for myself. The service was much the same as our meal the night prior, efficient, attentive and extremely friendly.
After a short walk after breakfast we head to reception to checkout. There we are given a goodie bag of water and a bag of sweets for the road, a rather lovely touch. Calcot has the feel of a family run hotel, the facilities to give its big name rivals a run for their money and an atmosphere which has you planning your next trip back before you’ve even left the car park.
Prices at Calcot start from £209 per night including breakfast.
Enquires: Calcot Manor & Spa, Near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8YJ / 01666 890391 / www.calcot.co