Spotlight oN

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons,
A Belmond Hotel

Words by LUCY SIDDALL

The original garden-to-table hotel where style and elegance are as crucial as footprint and biodiversity.

Nestled in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is a feast for the senses. The sustainable, spacious and sprawling British manor is a quintessentially English environment. Yet, it is drenched in a wonderful French sensibility, creating a unique establishment rooted in quality, style and elegance. To mark the hotel’s 40th birthday and celebrate everything that makes Le Manoir the institution it is, the Condo spoke to Niall Kingston, the hotel’s General Manager, about what makes the space the historic and magical place it is while also feeling like a home away from home.

The Condo: How would you describe a visit to the hotel and its grounds?

Niall Kingston: Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, A Belmond Hotel is an exquisite and characterful 15th-century manor house surrounded by the rolling Oxfordshire countryside with Chef Patron Raymond Blanc OBE at its helm. 2024 marks an important year for Le Manoir as we celebrate our 40th anniversary and 40 years of two Michelin star status.

Over the last four decades, Le Manoir has become a destination where gastronomy, gardens, and culture come alive in the hotel’s stunning grounds and surroundings. Raymond created and developed the hotel’s extensive kitchen gardens, which are certified organic and provide the restaurant with highly seasonal, nutrient-rich, zero-food-mile ingredients throughout the year.

A visit to Le Manoir is a memorable, sensory experience, with every element grounded in nature, sustainability and style. Whether innovating at the cookery and gardening schools, experiencing culinary alchemy at the double Michelin-starred restaurant, or strolling through the manicured gardens.

The 15th-century manor house basking in the warm glow of the setting evening sun.

TC: What inspires the decor of the hotel rooms? How would you describe the design of the rooms?

NK: Each of the 32 rooms and suites is individually styled with a unique design inspired by Raymond’s travels around the world, including his childhood in France and travels in the Far East. Many also come with a secluded terrace leading to the magnificent gardens, providing a tranquil sanctuary for guests that feels like a home away from home.

TC: What role does the garden play at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons?

NK: The gardens are the centre of life here at Le Manoir. From the moment guests arrive at our countryside manor and are welcomed by the lavender-lined pathway, they feel the spirit of our gardens come to life. From the beginning, Raymond’s vision for Le Manoir has been to create a haven of hospitality nurtured by flourishing organic vegetable gardens inspired by his childhood in France.

In 1984, Raymond created the first vegetable garden to provide for his kitchen and guests. Now, there are 11 different gardens, a 2,500-strong heritage orchard, and the very popular Raymond Blanc Gardening School.

As pioneers of seasonality, sustainability, and local sourcing, Le Manoir proudly embodies the Garden to Table ethos of Raymond Blanc OBE. Guests are welcome to explore the two-acre kitchen garden home to over 90 different types of vegetables and herbs used to inspire the menu. Not only have we held two Michelin stars for 40 years, but we’ve also held a Green Michelin star for the past three years.

A stepping-stone path leads to the Fugetsu-an Tea House, where guests can experience Taoist, Buddhist and Shinto traditions.

TC: How do the changing seasons impact the restaurant?

NK: The seasons drive everything we do at Le Manoir. Raymond sees them as a catalyst to inspire and inform, from the seasonal produce in the gardens to the different textures and colour palettes that come with them.

TC: How is the time of year reflected in the decor within the hotel?

NK: During the winter, our lounges and suites always have a roaring fire on the go, whilst our rooms open up and lead to the luscious gardens in the summer. Our talented on-site florists create beautiful arrangements in each room, using sprigs of fresh herbs picked from the gardens to fragrance bath oils.

Christmas is particularly special at Le Manoir. We stock the cellar with wine favourites, the fires burn brightly, and swathes of green, red, and gold decorate every corner of the manor. Meanwhile, our Winter Dome, next to the orchard, is adorned with twinkling fairy lights, plush sofas with warm blankets, and mulled wine.

TC: What tips can you give our readers for creating a home that transforms and evolves with the seasons?

NK: Our first recommendation is to focus on nature, the garden, or any outdoor space where the smallest of things, from new blooms in Spring to the colourful transition of Summer to Autumn and the seasonal produce that flourishes and comes into its own throughout the year can inspire us.

TC: What role does sustainability play at Le Manoir? From the grounds and the garden to the interior and decor and the guests.

NK: Sustainability is a huge part of Le Manoir’s story and underpins everything we do.

Raymond is President of The Sustainable Restaurant Association and passionately believes that it is up to each of us, be it a consumer, chef or hotelier, to make a responsible choice.

Recognising the current climate emergency and the need for all businesses to take proactive action, we have joined Zellar’s sustainability platform. This platform helps us measure our current sustainability performance and create a plan to deliver on our goals: continue to fully offset our emissions, reduce our energy consumption, reduce our overall waste, educate our team in best practices, and achieve Net Zero by 2030.

Our restaurant champions consistent ethical practices, from our relationships with our suppliers to our in-kitchen principles and ingredients. We purchase food, beverages, supplies and equipment made with credibly sustainable practices and from local farmers. Fresh and locally grown wines inspire our menu; our wine list is 70% organic and biodynamic. Our glass bottles, corks, coffee grounds, fats and oils are recycled or repurposed. We have also introduced a closed-loop composting system, and we use the compost we create in our gardens and orchards.

Selected rooms in the hotel lead out onto the enchanting and tranquil garden.

The historic and grand entrance of the exquisite, beautiful Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.

Regarding our gardens and orchards, we continue to cement our commitment to sustainable luxury by growing over 250 different organic varieties of herbs and vegetables. The orchard provides all the fruit for the property. We compost unused garden fruit, vegetables, and herbs and waste absolutely nothing. Our aviary is home to 17 rescued Birds of Prey, and we produce honey from our own Bee Village to promote biodiversity. We also work closely with the Heritage Seed Library to pass on and propagate our seeds.

Guests are always welcome to explore our extensive gardens and orchards, which are home to a whole world of art and sculptures and form a perfectly integrated ecosystem and the living magic of Le Manoir. Inside, all amenities are recyclable, and housekeeping uses only eco-friendly products. Guests can take slippers home in cotton slipper bags and soaps in recyclable bags.

Visit Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel's website, here, to learn more or to book a stay.

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