With its own dedicated feed expert on staff, Burleigh Court restaurant and hotel in the Cotswolds can rightly claim its sustainability credentials.
Emmanuelle Paulson, 23, the aforementioned expert who also takes care of the kitchen garden, is just as passionate about regional and seasonal products as the hotel owners. Products are sourced from within a 35 mile radius.
Eating there is a treat for the eyes and the palate. Some of the drinks and food served in the impressive, wood-panelled dining room are given a special touch of flowers, herbs and ingredients gathered from the fields and hedgerows surrounding the hotel. This attention to detail helped make dining here feel special.
The 30 Day Dry Aged Chateaubriand for sharing is one of the most popular dishes on the menu, but vegetarians are also catered for with dishes like wild garlic gnocchi (plant-based) with wild garlic pesto, broad beans, asparagus and tempura oyster mushroom.
And while there is something special about staying in a 200-year-old listed manor house, it’s rare that the interior is quite as fascinating.
Vintage touches at Burleigh Court blend surprisingly easily into interiors that have a rich and eclectic style, including (very) bold and luxurious wallpaper and fabrics by Italian designer Amanda Ferragamo.
The 18 room boutique hotel, which reopened in early 2022, is set on 4 acres overlooking the stunning Golden Valley of Stroud in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Our room had a four poster bed and jacuzzi bath and overlooked the back garden where we could often see a lone deer happily roaming around on the lawn next to the kitchen garden.
There is an art deco plunge pool in the hotel which was not open during our stay but would be a nice place to relax in the summer.
I was supposed to attend one of the hotel’s Wild Foodie Foraging Experiences, which are offered by the hotel for an additional fee, but bad weather got in the way. However, Emanuelle explained that the five-hour experience includes a three-hour foraging walk followed by a two-course lunch prepared by chef Shaun Jones. Their gourmet treats include wild herb pie made from cashews, ground ivy, triangular leeks, wild marjoram, hedge garlic and thyme. Followed by wild garlic pesto on gnocchi with garden vegetables. Top it all off with a bite of nettle cake.
Emmanuelle says: “People say they will never look at a hedge the same way again after their foraging experience. It helps them connect to the land and learn how they can help make it thrive.”
All sorts of tasty treats grow in the kitchen garden, including Swiss chard, beetroot, carrots, fennel and cucamelons (tiny South American watermelons), new to me! Herbs like lovage and winter savory sound like things Mrs. Patmore would use in Downton Abbey’s kitchen.
Apple, pear, plum and soft fruit trees grow in the orchard and in the garden a ring of edible wild St George’s mushrooms grows around the base of a cherry tree.
There are also beehives whose honey is served for breakfast and used in the kitchen. In fact, there’s a veritable feast of food ready to be harvested year-round. This is more than enough to keep you at the hotel, but the Cotswolds beckon and just minutes from the hotel are Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons, both National Trust sites. Minchinhampton is archaeologically significant, with prehistoric burial mounds, and Rodborough attracts visitors for its wild flowers – early purple orchids in May – and butterflies.
A little further afield, about 30 minutes away, however, is a Cotswolds favorite of mine – Westonbirt, the National Arboretum which has one of the finest and most important plant collections in the world.
It has 15,000 specimens and 2,500 tree species from around the world.
While it is probably most famous for its collection of Japanese maples, which display spectacular foliage in the fall, the late spring rhododendron blooms are also spectacular. We were amazed at the different colors and sizes of these plants as we walked along the paths of the Old Arboretum.
The collection of Japanese maples is world famous with around 297 different varieties.
The 1,400-acre arboretum was first created by wealthy Victorian entrepreneur Robert Holford in the 1870s, but has since grown into a huge visitor attraction.
Although we didn’t have much time to explore, there is so much to do here for all ages. Here you can find out about the important and ongoing work or simply take a walk on the STIHL treetop path,
So I would recommend Burleigh Court as a great base in the Cotswolds to relax and immerse yourself in the great outdoors.
No matter how many times you visit, the Cotswolds never lose their charm. There are beautiful honey-colored stone villages such as Laycock, Castle Combe, Bourton-On-The-Water, Burford and Stow-On-The-Wold, as well as palaces, castles and country houses.
It covers almost 800 square miles – and runs through five counties (Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire).
Ruth Brindle was a guest at Burleigh Court, a boutique hideaway hotel with a 2 AA Rosette restaurant in the Cotswolds. The price for stays is only £139 per night. Dinner, bed and breakfast packages are also available.
Dandelion: The whole plant can be used by roasting the root to make dandelion coffee, or you can use the leaves in a salad or jelly.
Nettles: must be used before flowering to make nettle pesto from the leaves or to steam them as a vegetable.
Violet and Nasturtium: The flowers can be eaten and make a beautiful decoration for dishes.