‘Your time at Eckington Manor can be spent exactly as you please, brushing up on your cookery skills, relaxing in our luxurious bedrooms, sampling some of the delicious foods on offer or simply soaking up the countryside air.’
This is how Eckington Manor describes itself and was exactly what we needed after a frantic few weeks of me getting my coursework together for university and D helping and supporting me all the way. We also had the great excuse of the bathroom being done, there was not a more perfect time to escape to the country.
We were heading away for some peace and quiet, country air and some of that delicious food they talk about and were certainly not disappointed.
The hotel itself is on the edge of Eckington, about 30 minutes drive from Cheltenham. It is on a farm which was bought by Judy Gardner who has totally refurbished it to a really cosy, comfortable, luxurious hotel. Our room was in the roof space of the old Cyder Mill which was separate to the main house and cookery school. It was very spacious, light, had a beautiful ensuite and a huge bed.
We arrived on the Sunday and Judy was there to meet us and show us to our room. There was a supper tray (which we had preordered) waiting for us in the communal area of the main house where there is also a well stocked honesty bar. After unloading the car we walked over to the local pub The Bell and had a small bite to eat and a few drinks before heading back to the hotel and enjoying a glass of wine and the supper tray before a super early night – it was amazing.
The supper tray consisted of cheese, homemade chutney and bread, cured meats, antipasti bits. Beautiful! Its the only word I can think of that sums it up, everything was absolutely delicious.
Breakfast was a triumph with a full english breakfast, homemade granola and porridge all being on offer. The porridge was great with the homemade stewed fruits and the full english breakfast was second to none, it even got me trying black pudding, something I have never quite managed before.
The second night we headed to Russell’s Fish & Chips in Broadway for dinner after a day shopping in Cheltenham. The food was fresh and tasty, service fast and friendly. What more could you want? A nice glass of red wine or beer as you sit inside? Not a problem, this place has got you covered. I had a glass of the house red (unconventional I know) and it was so delicious we bought a bottle to take away with us, which I am currently enjoying as I write this post on a wet and windy Friday evening.
On Tuesday we returned to Broadway and walked through some lovely fields and down country lanes up to Broadway Tower… in the fog. Ok I would not recommend walking up there in the same conditions, we could barely see the tower, but it was a lovely walk and there is a cute little cafe at the top selling food and drinks. You could equally drive to the top, but where is the fun in that?
Now for dinner on Tuesday we stayed at Eckington Manor and boy oh boy it was stunning. I started with a cocktail (naturally), Eckington Manor cocktail to be precise; a blend of homemade apple juice, cucumber, mint, lime and gin (I opted to go without the additional elderflower but what ever floats your boat they will do their best to cater for you). I also tried the plum and vanilla fizz. Both were amazing, both I would drink again in a heartbeat.
The food all started with homemade bread sticks with truffled cream cheese, this really got the tastebuds watering. This was followed closely by the amuse-bouche of cauliflower pannacotta with raisins and cumin, if only cauliflower tasted like that all the time I would probably eat it more often! We decided to skip on the starter and go straight to a main course of a rib eye steak, with beef shin, wild mushrooms and a red wine jus. It came with a small amount of charcoal puree, sounds weird but works wonderfully. It makes the beef taste like it was cooked on the barbecue, a lovely smokiness. This was the most perfect dish, the steak cooked perfectly with all the elements being my favourite. I followed it with an orange soufflé with marmalade cream and bitter chocolate sorbet and D went for the Dutch apple cake with vanilla parfait and brambly apples. Both were so yummy, the sorbet going so well with the sweet soufflé but the apple pudding was something in a different league. There was apple jelly and sorbet, all of which I am still dreaming of. We had every intention of going for the cheese board after to share between us but we were so stuffed we just couldn’t, but Im not worried as I fully intend to return to make sure I get my fill.
All the food is sourced as locally as possible, the beef being from the very farm we stayed on. The vegetables and fruit are often from the farm too. This means that the menu is ever changing with the seasons, but I love that and I am looking forward to seeng what the menu will consist of on our return.
Overall our stay could not have been more perfect. The staff were so friendly and couldn’t have done more for you, there is nothing snooty about this place. I asked a million questions about the food and they were all answered with a smile. The food, as I have continued to go on about, was simply stunning and the rooms are luxurious. We arrived frazzled and left like we had had a week in the Bahamas (ok so the weather wasn’t on our side but you get what I mean).
I urge you all to go check this place out and most definitely go for dinner because it will not disappoint, please note though that the restaurant is closed on a Sunday and Monday (everyone needs a little break).