Darkness had already fallen over Castle Combe by the time we arrived at The Manor House, so the full delights of the pretty Wiltshire village and its turret topped hotel were hidden from us until the morning.
Inside the hotel we were greeted by the smell of burning logs and courtly staff who showed us through a maze of stairs and hallways to our room.
Bristol24/7 relies on your support to fund our independent journalism and social impact projects. Become a member and enjoy exclusive perks from just £5 per month.
The hotel bedrooms were all generous and very elegant. There are 21 rooms in the main house, with ours, ‘Paddock’, is one of the plusher options. There are a further 29 in a terrace of charming cottages just a short climb up the hill from the manor.
There were a few modern touches hidden among the classic-style room, adding to the luxurious feel; an iPad on the leather topped desk on which to order room service, underfloor heating in the bathroom and a TV screen set into the wall at the end of the bathtub.
Before dinner, we were invited for a drink in the beautiful, dark wood paneled lounge bar; medieval family crests above the crackling fire. I had an Old Fashioned, while my other half enjoyed a Garden Thyme mocktail, which does a pretty good job of impersonating a gin tipple.
With high expectations of what may be in store for dinner, we moved through to the dining room. Spacious and brightly lit with chandeliers, we were seated on a table between an excited couple returning to their wedding venue on their first anniversary and a middle-aged Welsh couple.
After a mouth-watering selection of amuse-bouches, comes a delightful plate of lightly cured salmon which is rich and fatty but melts in the mouth, alongside a delicately grilled langoustine topped with disks of pickled vegetable and punctuated with dots of herb and citrus flavour explosions.
A series of delightfully simple, beautifully presented and utterly delicious plates follow, including rich and unctuous pressed Perigord duck liver, a poached halibut with muscles and sea vegetables and a succulent fillet of beef.
It certainly does pack a punch, a power chord of hearty flavours: succulent fillet, slow cooked and falling apart ox tail, salt baked kohlrabi, red wine jus, which could almost be too rich were it not played in such a beautifully balanced symphony of courses.
A friendly and knowledgeable Hungarian sommelier is on hand at every course to talk through the wine flight. An unusual Miradas with the salmon, dry and acidic but with a richness from the sherry grapes; a complex Gewürztraminer with the liver and a delicious semi dry Coteaux du Layon with the black fig and custard tart pudding.
It’s an accomplished meal, refined and delicious.
There’s sparkling wine awaiting us in our room and a soft and expansive bed to climb into. And, while we don’t want the evening to end, The Manor House has one more treat in store.
After a fine breakfast which includes a complementary Bloody Mary, we explore the rolling grounds, which include an impressive 18 hole championship golf course, and follow the bubbling river through the village. As we return back through the main gates and approach the house for the second time the misty morning reveals the full expanse of this timeless treat of a hotel.
A one night stay in the Paddock room costs £200, the tasting menu costs £95 and the wine pairing costs £65. Find out more about The Manor House Hotel at www.exclusive.co.uk/the-manor-house
Read more: A weekend in Wiltshire