Love is often in the air at Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa, and never more so than on Valentine's Day. Nestled in idyllic rolling countryside in the captivating Cotswolds - one of the favourite places of our most loved-up royal, Prince Harry – this historic country pile is a perfect weekend retreat for rest, relaxation and most of all, for romance.
With a Michelin starred restaurant that boasts the ultimate in fine dining, sumptuous guest rooms, a cutting edge spa and roaring fires that banish the winter chill, it has all the right ingredients to get couples in the mood for love. Located near the medieval market town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, right at the heart of the area dubbed 'the royal triangle,' it comes as no surprise to learn that this enchanting neck of the woods is where the 33-year-old prince and his beautiful bride-to-be Meghan Markle are reportedly planning to settle down after their wedding in May.
Lavender on the terrace at Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa
Indeed, Whatley Manor is surrounded by a host of regal connections. As well as being just a stone's throw from Highgrove - the Prince of Wales' home in the neighbouring county of Gloucestershire where Harry spent much of his youth - and the Beaufort Polo Club where the polo-crazy prince frequently plays at charity events, it is only a few miles down the road from where his cousins, Zara and Peter Phillips live. Princess Anne's Gatcombe Park estate is on the doorstep, too, and it is here that the hotel sponsors the famous horse trials every year. As a keen equestrian, Whatley Manor's owner Christian Landolt has adorned the hotel with horse sculptures and paintings that reflect his passion.
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When it comes to VIP hospitality, the warm, friendly and attentive staff ensure that every guest feels like royalty. From the moment the hotel's grand wooden gates swing open to welcome you inside, you are embraced by a cocoon of tranquillity and luxurious pampering, and when better to experience such sensual delights than this Valentine’s Day.
Among the treats on offer are a Michelin-starred tasting menu, a cosy meal to share, a Parisian Valentine's supper and a special Valentine's inspired Spa Day for two. Created by Executive Chef Niall Keating, the decadent tasting menu served in the hotel's fine dining restaurant, The Dining Room, is every gastronome's idea of heaven.
Afternoon tea served in the drawing room at Whatley Manor
Featuring a cornucopia of imaginative dishes with flavours that sharpen the senses and explode on the tongue are eel with yuzu and lime, pork belly with kimchi, and cod with chicken broth and seaweed. Each exquisite course – for which some of the ingredients are sourced in the hotel's kitchen garden - is presented with an optional selection of fine wines as harmonious accompaniments to the mouth-watering morsels, as selected by sommelier Daniel Davies.
When it comes to culinary passion, food lovers at Whatley Manor are spoilt for choice. Also on offer this Valentine's Day is a romantic a la carte sharing menu in the newly refurbished Grey's Brasserie where dishes to tempt the taste buds include half a dozen Porthilly oysters, Chateaubriand for two, and profiteroles served with praline cream and coffee anglaise.
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For couples keen to extend the romance, Parisian Valentine's Night on 15 February proudly showcases the hotel’s new gastronomic space, The Green Room. Beginning with a glass of sparkling champagne, the six-course French-inspired menu, devised by guest chef Martin Caws, includes Gruyère cheese gougères, lemon sole Grenobloise and chocolate ganache tart.
There are 23 guest rooms at Whatley Manor
After an evening of indulgence, experience the sheer bliss of spending the night in one of the hotel's 23 guest rooms. In keeping with traditional country house style, richly upholstered sofas, swathes of opulent drapes, and elegant antiques abound, alongside state of the art mod cons such as Bang & Olufsen TVs.
As for the exquisite bathrooms – which feature a bathtub as well as a power shower – they are tastefully stocked with fluffy white bathrobes and slippers, luxurious L'Occitane en Provence toiletries, and candles should the desire for a candlelit bath unfold. All this relaxation can be a tiring affair, so when it's time to sleep, sink into the super-comfy beds which feature goose down feather pillows for a perfect night's slumber.
After a leisurely, delicious full English breakfast take a stroll in the fresh air around the hotel's immaculate gardens, where spring shoots are now beginning to show in the herbaceous borders. Or if you're lucky enough to return in summer, breathe in the sweet smell of its fragrant rose bushes and marvel at its swathes of deep purple lavender.
The hydrotherapy pool at the Aquarias Spa is a must-visit
No stay at Whatley Manor would be complete without sampling the Aquarias Spa. With its magnificent hydrotherapy pool, aromatic thermal suites, a tepidarium with heated stone loungers, and an extensive range of treatments delivered by award-winning therapists, its aim is to restore mind, body and sensory well-being to a new state of harmony. There is even an outdoor Jacuzzi accessed via the indoor pool, where you can gaze romantically at the stars or bask in the sunlight as you look out over the spa garden and woodland beyond.
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From 11-18 February couples can enjoy selected treatments together in the Aquarias Spa’s dual VIP suite whilst enjoying a glass of champagne and a selection of sharing dishes. One of the most innovative treatments on the menu is the Natura Bissé Vitamin C Facial, that takes place inside the Natura Bissé Pure Air Bubble which is pumped with 99.9 per cent pure air. In the course of this relaxing experience, the 60-minute facial awakens the senses, revitalises and firms the complexion, while the citrus scented vitamin C elixirs revitalise sun-damaged skin and reduce signs of ageing.
With balance and beauty restored, round off your romantic interlude with a bowl of home-made soup and crusty bread in the drawing room or sink back into the enormous sofas with a tray of afternoon tea - fresh warm scones with jam and clotted cream – in front of the fire. A perfect end to a perfect stay.
For more info go to whatleymanor.com or call 01666 822 888. To book treatments call Aquarias Spa on 01666 827 070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.