Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am

Where is it? Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc's hotel and restaurant is 10km from Oxford, England, on a former Saxon site in a village called Great Milton. It is a peaceful spot where visitors can admire the lavender-peppered hills adjoining the rich, water meadows of the Thames Valley.

Luxurious or basic? A night in the new Lemongrass suite takes you into a world of bold, dark furniture, lime silk bed sheets and bamboo fittings. The bathroom has a steam room with stone relaxation bed. Alternatively, sink into the king-sized bed that is the centrepiece of the oak-beamed rustic Provence suite (far right) for a touch of European decadence.

Who should visit? Anyone wanting a break from London (72km to the southeast) or craving a spot of eastern promise in England. Wander into the exotic Malaysian Garden and assail your senses with the scents of lemongrass, ginger and horseradish. Or learn to cook with these herbs at the on-site cooking school.

What's on the menu? Modern French cuisine crowned by two Michelin stars and the best of British food paired with a rich imagination. Try the beetroot terrine or the salad of Cornish crab before moving on to a main course such as roasted scallop spiced with avocado, sesame and scallop tartare. The chocolate mousse soaking in a lemon butterscotch sauce and almond milk creme glacee is a decadent way to finish.

What else is there to do? If you're interested in picking up a few treasures, the former coaching inn that is home to Swan Antiques - chock-full of jewellery, silver, textiles and clocks - is only five minutes away. Bicester town, a short drive from the hotel, is home to more than 90 British and international luxury brands offering designer labels at reduced prices.

What's the bottom line? The Lemongrass and Provence suites cost GBP825 (HK$12,460) a night; a standard suite is GBP515.

Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons is on Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford, England, tel: 44 1844 278 881; www.manoir.com.