It may sound cliché, but approaching the Burleigh Court Hotel feels just a little bit like revisiting a slower time. I was initially struck by the ivy coated stonework and Georgian architecture on the final leg of our drive, which was a far cry from the city views as we left London to head to the Cotswolds for two nights of relaxation. The illusion of having been transported to a more leisurely era continues into the manor home itself, where every detail is imbued with a sense of simple, yet indulgent luxury. Stepping over the threshold, I felt the rush of the city fall away.
Our room, “The Foxglove,” was outfitted with a balance of decadence and simplicity that both charmed, and impressed. As a room in their romantic category, it’s finished off with a whirlpool bath and lavish four-poster bed that tempted me to spend our stay happily tucked away in our suite with a book.
However, far more tempting, was the view from the patio. The recently updated manor home is perched on a hillside overlooking the Golden valley, near Stroud. They’ve taken full advantage of the picturesque view, so the absolute first thing we did after unpacking was settle onto the patio to take it all in, and enjoy some cheeky post-travel cocktails. This became a habit during our time as guests of the manor – after breakfast, we’d stroll out with the remainder of our morning coffee and watch the Burleigh Court bees buzz from their hives to daffodils and violet blossoms. In the evening, we’d sit by lovely cedar wood fires and watch the lights in the idyllic valley glowing up at us.
The true crown jewel of experiencing Burleigh Court though, is the food – but not just the decadent meals served in the Oak Room Restaurant. One of the more unique activities that Burleigh Court has to offer is guided foraging tours led by Kitchen Gardener and Foraging Expert Emanuelle. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect going into a foraging tour, being a complete novice to England’s edible plants. But Emanuelle’s approach to teaching starts with the basics, and her expertise is so far reaching that she has an impeccable ability to explain how to identify what is edible (and what is not) even if you go in with no base knowledge. As we explored the Burleigh Court grounds (and beyond) we nibbled on fresh bronze fennel, discussed the best means of foraging stinging nettles without being stung, and learned to identify edible plants in the mint family, with our questions being expertly answered along the way. Ever since, I’ve found myself identifying edibles quietly to myself even in my own garden, with an unfamiliar craving for stinging nettle tea.
What Emanuelle teaches, she also practices in the Burleigh Court garden – and that mentality of sustainability extends to the kitchen of the Oak Room Restaurant as well. The restaurant itself is currently targeting three AA Rosette status, and features a menu that is not only prepared with local ingredients, but provides a modern approach to traditional Cotswold cuisine. The artistry of each course is obvious, even to the untrained eye. I don’t just mean visually (though each plate we received, from my cashew pâté starter to my partner’s honey glazed duck breast main course, was indeed a work of art), I mean in the careful and intentional pairing of sustainably sourced ingredients. The menu rotates with the seasonal availability of ingredients, and as summer approaches even more of Burleigh Court’s own garden produce will be woven into their dishes.
Alongside their traditional afternoon tea and dinner menus, in 2021 Burleigh Court added wine tastings to their schedule of events. On our final evening, after spending my afternoon reading and soaking in that whirlpool bath I mentioned, we made our way downstairs for one such event. We began outside, and sipped a crisp Italian bubbly paired with delicate canapés, while watching the sun descend over the valley accompanied by the sweeping calls of evening birdsong.
When the last light faded, we moved into the warmth of the dining room for our remaining paired courses and wines. The wine selections we enjoyed were not only expertly paired, but were also selected from vineyards that use organic, biodynamic growing practices. Even in their wine menu, the Burleigh Court Hotel champions their devotion to sustainability.
As our evening drew to a close, I found myself struggling to remember that I was, in fact, at an event, in a hotel. Other attendees’ laughter resounded in the intimate space, and our sommelier for the evening shared the details of our wine pairings as if chatting with a room of his closest friends. It was in those small moments that it became clear what makes a stay at the Burleigh Court Hotel so unforgettable: during your stay, you’re not regarded as a traveler, escaping for an evening or two. You’re regarded, truly, as a guest of the manor.
Hotel rates for 2022 start from £139 for a classic room and £209 for the Romantic Room category. They offer rooms in five categories: Classic, Cosy, Superior, Noteworthy, and Romantic.
The Wild Foodie Foraging Experience is priced from £69 per person; £138 per couple, and includes a three-hour Foraging Walk followed by a two-course lunch. www.burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk/wild-food-foraging
Review by Gabrielle Scarlett
TSF Owner Interview: Corinna Rae
During our recent stay at luxurious country house hotel Burleigh Court in Gloucestershire, we sat down to talk with owner Corinna Rae about her efforts to transform the 200-year-old 18-room Grade II listed manor into a stylish home-away-from-home that boasts hidden gardens and breathtaking Golden Valley views.
Hailing from outside the hospitality industry, Corinna and her husband James left their London life behind and bought boutique hideaway Burleigh Court in spring 2019. Ever since they’ve been busy passionately renovating it into a chic, award-winning, family-run hotel and
restaurant. Guests from near and far share rave reviews about this little slice of heaven located amidst the rolling Cotswold hills near Minchinhampton Common.
Corinna, you’ve created an idyllic country escape. Can you tell us about Burleigh Court’s latest developments?
Burleigh Court was inspired as a country house hotel by Japanese noblemen in the 1800’s. Since we purchased the hotel three years ago, we’ve been gradually renovating to bring it up-to-date. Most
recently, we closed our doors throughout January and updated five guest rooms, as well as expanding our 2 AA Rosette Oak Room
restaurant to accommodate more guests per service. We want to offer guests a relaxed and welcoming base from which to explore a
lesser-known corner of the Cotswolds. We’re in an area of outstanding natural beauty with picturesque villages, plus unique market and spa towns on our doorstep.
Following The Oak Room’s reopening, what can guests dining with you expect?
Led by Head Chef Shaun Jones, The Oak Room’s brand promise is to offer ‘consistently good, locally-sourced food with a view’. The main
dining room overlooks the Golden Valley and we put strong emphasis on serving sustainably sourced, uncomplicated, flavoursome, and seasonal ‘Best of British’ food cooked from scratch by local hands. We’re known for our romantic dining and strive to serve great quality food at a fair price. Much of our produce comes from local suppliers within a 35-mile radius, and our Kitchen Gardener, Emanuelle, grows an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and herbs in our grounds, while also foraging supplies from the surrounding country lanes and hedgerows. We’ve recently received a ‘AA Hotel Services – Breakfast Award 2022’ and our Burleigh bees make own-brand honey. Pre-bookable afternoon teas are available from £22. After Easter, we’ll restart our cosy, alfresco fireside dining, serving stone-baked pizzas and Cotswolds Teppanyaki on our back terrace.
Looking ahead, what’s next for The Oak Room?
We’ll incorporate even more seasonal local produce into our menus and we’re targeting 3 AA Rosette status. We want to raise the restaurant’s profile, particularly among the local community, as we offer something that’s quite unique in our area of the Cotswolds. You’ll see us run more regular food and wine tasting events, plus music and dinner nights, while also working to target the ‘special occasion’ market for
anniversaries, birthdays, and family events – all as part of our goal to attract a returning clientele of upscale leisure and business travellers seeking a relaxed country retreat.
In addition to expanding our commitment to serving home-grown and low food mile produce, we’re decreasing our carbon footprint by
reducing wine supplies from non-European producers in favour of smaller, boutique producers, to include organic, biodynamic, and vegan wines. Chef Jones is incorporating game into our seasonal menus to serve more sustainable meat, and we also source American crayfish from a Cotswolds fisherman. This invasive species is decimating the
indigenous variety – so, by serving its predator, we’re giving the local fish a chance to thrive. We also recycle all vegetable oil used.
You offer foraging experiences. What else are you developing?
Our Wild Foodie Foraging Experience launched last year: priced from £69 per person/ £138 per couple, it incorporates a three-hour foraging walk and two-course lunch. Emanuelle teaches participants how to
safely identify edible species and turn their foraged bounty into scrumptious drinks and meals. Guests will learn about seasonal eating; the nutritional values and medicinal use of plants, species and habitat conservation, and receive guidance on what to take from nature, what to leave, and how to store wild food. It’s a chance to sample local
seasonal edibles like lime tree leaves. We’re also going to launch a ‘Learn to Kitchen Garden’ course later this year.
All images credit: Burleigh Court Photography