One of our favourite ways to spend a morning here is on the hotel’s Wild Foodie Foraging Experience with Burleigh Court’s in-house kitchen gardener and foraging expert Emanuelle Paulson, whose passion for farm-to-table food is infectious. Take a walk through the sprawling grounds with her and she’ll show you how to tell the abundance of edible plants apart and how best to sample them. You’ll learn how to spot walnut trees from their compound leaves, and tell the difference between the bright red rose hips that can be turned into syrups or jellies and the hawthorn berries that taste like apple rind.
Autumn at Burleigh Court
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Forage, forget the world outside, and feel down-right relaxed on a festive getaway to this Cotswolds manor house in the English countryside.
On the onset of Autumn, all the leaves are aglow on the drive into historic Burleigh Court. The air is crisp with the promise of winter, and the hotel itself, covered in flaming Virginia creeper, looks like it’s been lit from within.
The 18th-century Cotswold-stone manor house is set on a steep hill that provides sprawling views of the golden valley below. Enter and you’ll find a cosy two-seater bar to your left, with accents of deep wood and fur, where the sun streams in through a window onto a display of colourful bottles making it look like stained glass. Follow the sound of soft jazz from a record player, and you’ll arrive at the lounge, where the woodland themed wallpaper, comfortable sofas and copies of Tatler and The Field make for a chic reading spot.
You could while away your time here reading, and forget that you were in the bustle of London just a few hours ago, but we recommend first exploring the lawns. The hotel is nestled in four acres of gardens, where you may see the Burleigh bees buzzing away in their beehives, grey oyster mushrooms growing off deadwood, and purple sage adding even more colour to the autumn surroundings.
In an hour with her, you could taste the tart powdery sourness of sloes (not to be confused with blueberries) which bring out the flavour of certain gins, wild strawberries and sweet chestnuts. You’ll look differently at dandelions the next time you see them, and know that they’re not just a weed, but make for a delicious tea, and that even stinging nettle (which I’d usually avoid like the plague), can be blended into a pesto once blanched. Emanuelle can also show you just how much of nature an untrained eye disregards. When I walked with her, she gently removed the top layer of orange beech leaves on the ground to reveal nuts (that tasted like a mix of walnut and pine) underneath.
Of course, the best way to appreciate the garden’s spoils is at the hotel’s homey restaurant, where the smiling servers are as welcoming as the extensive wine list. The food menu is far shorter, the tell-tale sign of an award-winning restaurant. The 2 AA Rosette restaurant is now aiming for a third AA Rosette, which when earned would make them one of only three restaurants in Gloucestershire to hold this accolade.
If you’ve walked in the garden that day amidst the beetroot, turnips and carrots in the vegetable garden that are lovingly cared for by Emmanuelle, there’s a fair chance some of the spoils could end up on your plate in the evening. In autumn, we recommend sampling the last of the wonderful tomatoes or the cabbage — which doesn’t sound like much but just bursts with flavour. If you like to play it safe, the steak is one of the hotel’s ever-popular dishes, with good reason.
After dinner, head to the lounge and sip a nightcap by the friendly fire, or play a game of chess by a window seat with a view by the bar. My personal recommendation? Head to the refuge of your room where Netflix and cosy beds make for the perfect spot for a slumber party with a friend. Staying on brand for being bespoke and unique, each of the rooms here are decorated differently, but ours was described as the one the warm hotel staff described as “the girls room”, with furs thrown on the sofas and leopards plastered onto the cerulean walls.
Whichever room you choose, and whatever activity you fancy, one thing is for sure, this hidden gem in the Cotswolds will leave you feeling recharged for the winter.
The writer, Madhuri, was a guest of Burleigh Court, a boutique hideaway hotel with a 2 AA Rosette restaurant in The Cotswolds. Stays are priced from £139 per night room only. Dinner, bed and breakfast packages are available too. To book a stay at Burleigh Court, please call 01453 883 804 or visit www.burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk.
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