A Truly Lavish Stay: Estelle Manor, Oxfordshire – Review
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A Truly Lavish Stay: Estelle Manor, Oxfordshire – Review

Here, serenity is guaranteed

Fiona Duncan checks into Estelle Manor, an utterly luxurious country house hotel in Oxfordshire.

Hotel Review: Estelle Manor, Eynsham, Oxfordshire

Opened last summer, Britain’s most lavish hotel to date is, quite simply, astonishing. As well as its fabulous looks and its impressive scale, depth, vision and attention to detail, it is also that rare thing amongst grand British country house hotels: it’s properly hip and cool and yet properly warm, enveloping and cultured and that’s saying something for a vast, brooding neo-Jacobean pile in not-quite-the-Cotswolds. Overlooking a languorous pool, heated year-round, on the huge terrace, with green fields beyond, Estelle Manor’s gorgeous, eclectic, layered and patterned sitting rooms, bars and restaurants sweep through the house while outside its grounds are filled with amusements and diversions, not least the just opened Roman-inspired spa, Eynsham Baths, as large – 3,000 square metres – as the once forlorn, now reborn manor house that it compliments.

Estelle Manor suite bathroom with freestanding claw-foot bathtub

The former Eynsham Hall, now Estelle Manor, is Soho Farmhouse for grown-ups. Better still, unlike members-only Soho Farmhouse, it welcomes hotel guests as well as members (who pay £3,600 per year, plus a £500 joining fee). Stay there, if you can, for several days: there is much to do, with more activities to come. Already, it has echoes of Gleneagles in Perthshire, now correctly dubbed ‘the glorious playground’. Both properties are owned by hospitality entrepreneur Sharan Pasricha of Ennismore (whose portfolio also includes the Hoxton hotels and private members’ club Maison Estelle in London) but unlike Gleneagles, it’s been created from scratch under the guidance of Sharan and his wife Eiesha, a successful businesswoman in her own right and daughter of Indian billionaire Sunil Mittal.

The care, authenticity and integrity that has been lavished on Estelle Manor by its owners reminds me of why the Pig Hotels also stood out – and still do stand out – from the crowd in their own mid-market sector: because they are the passion project of their founders, Robin and Judy Hutson, who, like the Pasrichas, see to every detail. At Estelle Manor, interior designers, under the guidance of Sharan and Eiesha, have successfully complimented the Edwardian, neo-Jacobean atmosphere of the original house (built in 1908) with a marvellous mix of colours, textures, patterns and period furniture whilst twisting the 21st century into the mix with superbly chosen modern art. It’s hard to choose a favourite spot, but the original library shelves filled with books and objects of interest, and the Billiards Room, now a traditional Chinese restaurant and a stunning essay in green malachite dominated by a huge original fireplace perhaps stand out. Other restaurants are the lively Brasserie and the lush Glasshouse, the latter overlooking the kitchen garden and serving its produce. Members, should they wish to be separate, have the own lounge, café and study, plus co-working space and kids’ club.

Estelle Manor brasserie with long tables, blue velvet banquettes and circular light pendants.

The Brasserie

What else? A lot. There’s the huge state of the art gym (with 37 classes per week for members), a pair of padel courts to cater for the fastest growing racquet sport in the world, archery, axe throwing, foraging, falconry, bike-riding and mini Landies for the kids with more activities in the offing, all happening within sight of the hotel. There are further bedrooms, cottages and even houses, all more contemporary in style than the lovely coiffed and canopied rooms in the main house, dotted around the estate. And there’s the spa.

Taking its inspiration from Roman villa ruins found close to the 60-acre Estelle Manor estate, the Eynsham Baths are a series of Roman-style bathing pools amongst sculpted stone columns with a vast central tepidarium bathing hall overlooked by a circular first floor balcony, plus five thermal pools, steam room, hay sauna, lounge, ten treatment rooms, a huge hammam and an outdoor ‘breathwork’ pool. A not inconsiderable fee of £95 allows hotel guests a three-hour spell in this serene temple of water and light, including a table in the lounge for healthy drinks and snacks. Add a massage from one of the expert practitioners specially brought in from Thailand, India and other countries and a sense of balance and serenity, when you step outside and return to the hotel, is guaranteed.

Spa at Estelle Manor, with marble columns replicating the design of Roman baths

The Eynsham Baths

Time, for me, drifted idly by in the Eynsham Baths (no mobiles, no watches or clocks). In the Nosing Room, where you choose from a variety of specially concocted massage oils for your treatment, I was introduced to my therapist, Manos. How wonderful: the single best massage I have ever had was courtesy of Manos, from Greece, at Heckfield Place a year ago. Now here he was.

Serendipity. Estelle Manor is that kind of place. My only proviso is that while staff are generally excellent (many, like Manos, have come from the best establishments Britain has to offer) they are as a whole, as befits the difficult circumstances of British hospitality these days, not quite as exceptional as the hotel itself, which has, like everywhere, a constant turnover.

BOOK IT

Doubles from £450 per night, including breakfast.

01993 685800; estellemanor.com