Our April FAM trip was held at the stunning Manor House in the picturesque village of Castle Combe in the Cotswolds, we knew we were going to love this place as soon as we started the approach to the Manor House via the village. If you are looking for a 5-star property in a stunning setting for either an intimate board level retreat or for a conference for up to 100 delegates, then look no further we've found the perfect place for you!!
Upon arrival, we were directed to our beautiful rooms – let me re-phrase that – we were directed to our beautiful rooms in the super cute cottages that are located within the grounds of the main hotel – less than a 2-minute walk door to door. We were all so excited at staying in the cottages, after checking out each other’s rooms we are happy to say that they are all equally as lovely!! Majority of the cottages have access to outside space so after one or two Instagram stories / Tweets about our rooms we all met on the terrace outside one of the rooms and had a glass of bubbles before the trip officially started – it really was the perfect way to start!
Bubbles consumed, we headed off to meet Ratnesh who was our brilliant host for the trip. We started off with afternoon tea in the Bybrook restaurant which is a great space and has a private dining room just off the main the restaurant. The afternoon tea went down a treat especially the cheese scones – they are a must to try when you there! After catching up with everyone, we had bellies full sandwiches, cakes and tea so we decided it was time to check out the grounds and walk off some of the calories!
The grounds provide ample opportunities for team building activities, outside dining, BBQs etc – it wasn't BBQ weather, but it was putting weather! We all put our golf skills to the test with some putting on the putting green, it was great fun and we all got extremely competitive – a great option for a light-hearted activity to break up your event. There is actually an 18-hole golf course on the property which would work really well to add as an option for your delegates after a meeting at the Manor House.
Once we realised we were not going to be giving Patrick Reed a run for his money at the next Masters we went back to what we know best (and love) – events!
The hotel has 4 meeting spaces with capacity ranging from 12 – 100 people, the two boardroom spaces are gorgeous with natural day light, exposed brick work and they interconnect so perfect if you wish to use one as a space for the board meeting itself and one for the networking space. The largest space has capacity for a maximum of 100 people in cabaret or theatre style, this space provides you with an exclusive use feel due to the location of the space within the hotel, it even has a lovely terrace overlooking the beautiful countryside. Full information on the spaces can be found here.
The Manor House really does feel like a resort especially with the cottages and the latest addition – their very own pub! The Castle Inn is a pub located in the village – less than a 5-minute walk (or stagger at the end of the night) from the Manor House – that is owned by Exclusive. The pub also has some bedrooms which can be used as overflow bedrooms if you've occupied all the bedrooms within the house and cottages – the rooms in the pub would be suitable for the organising team with your delegates staying in the main house and cottages. If you have exclusive use of the hotel and are there for a couple of days, the pub provides a great alternative for an informal dinner option night with the formal dinner night taking place in the Michelin star restaurant, the Bybrook.
After freshening up i.e. making the most of the amazing bathrooms (ladies – all rooms have the fantastic Dyson hairdryers, we were super impressed with them so much so were all on John Lewis looking them up to place an order…) we were all ready for the night's activities – a night of gin tasting and a tasting menu in the Michelin star restaurant! Personally, I was bit apprehensive about the gin tasting as I've not had good experiences on gin and it turned out a few other attendees felt the same so we were a hard audience to please but by the end of the gin masterclass we had all learnt about we liked / didn't like, how the tonic really does affect the taste of the gin and even a few of us were converted gin drinkers! Josh, the Bar Manager, really knows his stuff, along with the other bar tenders, the bar has a list of over 250 gins including their own gin!
Up next was the tasting menu with paired wines in the restaurant, the restaurant has a Michelin star and I have to say the food was seriously good and well deserved of the star. After a night of fantastic food, drink and great company with lots of laughs, we ended the evening in the bar with a nightcap – we were going to head to the games room for a game of pool and board games but at this point our beds were calling.
At our FAM trips, we always say that the breakfast is vital as it is the lasting impression of the hotel. I'm happy to report that the breakfast didn't let the Manor House down! It was delicious with lots of healthy and non-healthy options, the breakfast is served in the Bybrook restaurant and they also offer room service if you wish to make the most of your rooms.
A few of us really didn't want to leave the Manor House or Castle Combe so much so we stayed on for the day, we explored the grounds, the local area and after a 5k walk we had worked up an appetite (not sure how after all the food we had consumed in the past 24 hours) so we headed to the pub to check out the lunch menu. It really was the perfect FAM trip, we can't wait to return to the Manor House it really is the perfect venue for events that require 5 star treatment in a beautiful setting – all within 70 minutes from London.
For further information on the Manor House or any of the hotels in the Exclusive group reach out to Ratnesh Bakhai.
Michelle Rees is a Events Advisor for a London Law Firm
Kate is a Events Manager for a London Law Firm