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Belmond Le Manoir
PERFECT FOR FOODIES
The lowdown: Raymond Blanc's legendary gastro-shrine
celebrates its big three-oh this year and remains the sine qua non
of no-holds-barred luxury: from the moment car keys are handed
over for valet parking, guests don't have to lift a finger. Blanc might
be the quintessential French chef in the flesh but his cooking is
influenced by techniques from further afield than France and his
dishes are light, seasonal and flavour-led. Spacious guest rooms
meanwhile are inspired by Blanc's travels and located either in the
original 15th-century manor house or the (completely in-keeping)
annexes that have been added over the years.
Activities to indulge in: Spend the time before supper dawdling
in idle bliss: tea and a slice of lemon cake on the private terrace of
your garden suite, perhaps, ahead of croquet on lawns bordered
by lavender, then a stroll around the two-acre organic kitchen
garden. If you want to learn more there's a cookery school. With
everything set up to make guests as comfortable as possible,
you won't want to step outside the grounds.
The damage: One night's BB costs from £555 for two people.
Dinner is an additional £140 per person.
Ben McCormack, editor
PERFECT FOR A SEASIDE GETAWAY
The lowdown: Set just 28 miles off the Cornish coast,
you'd be forgiven for thinking that this privately owned
island was a lot further away. Dramatic rock formations,
wild untamed grasslands, picture-perfect beaches
and coral-blue waters are the stuff of fantasy, while its
car-free status and relaxed pace of life couldn't make
for more of a contrast to city living. Even the weather
is better than on the mainland, with the island's
smog-free skies exaggerating the sun's rays. Luxurious
waterside cottages include all the mod cons, but it's the
scenic view from the windows that steals the show.
Activities to indulge in: Bikes are the best way to
explore the two-and-a-half mile-long island, available
to hire with your accommodation. Let off steam as you
cycle between sandy beaches and secluded coves,
stopping off at the Flying Boat restaurant for superfresh
seafood or friendly gastropub The New Inn for
more hearty fare. Take a dip in the sea or relax at the
spa, visit red squirrels in the beautifully maintained
Abbey Garden and make sure you catch the stunning
sunset over cocktails on the terrace at Ruin Beach Café.
The damage: One-bedroom cottages start from
£160 per night, with breakfast.
Ben Norum, news and online editor