Appetite for travel is high.
Boosted by an end to travel restrictions, travel companies are experiencing a rush of bookings. Jet2 reported a January booking spike of 150 per cent. But in the ongoing Covid climate, booking anything that involves leaving the country comes with risk. That’s why so many of us are booking UK staycations. Google says searches are up 23 percent from 2020. And, over the past 18 months, many of us have learned that staying in the UK, doesn’t mean your holiday has to be any less luxurious than taking a trip abroad.
There are scores of talented British chefs who have opened restaurant-come-hotels over the years - but Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons remains king of them all. Blanc opened his hotel, which is now part of the Belmond group, in 1984, based in a now famous, Instagram-friendly honey-coloured 15th century Chiltern manor house. Since then, it has become a mecca for gourmets the world over.
Travellers looking for a bit of spoiling can book lunch or dinner and enjoy the beautiful, art-laden grounds while taking a look at the kitchen garden that produces 90 types of vegetable and over 70 varieties of herbs used in the restaurant.
A six-course tasting menu lunch is £170, while dinner is £194 for seven courses. Wine pairing flights cost from £129 to £999 depending on how much you wish to splash out, and non-alcoholic flights (which mostly consists of cold-pressed juices made from local produce) are between £69 and £89.
If you’d like to stay over, prices start at £920 per night for a deluxe double room and breakfast, based on two people sharing - with in-room spa or relaxation treatments and yoga facilities now available to pre-book on request.
But, capitalising on the luxury staycation market, Le Manoir is now offering The Raymond Blanc Cookery School – one of the only places in the world where visitors can watch and learn in the kitchens of a two-Michelin starred restaurant.
There are half day and full day courses on offer, most of which are themed. Budding chefs can pick from the seasonal dinner party course, where you create an impressive three course menu; or on the other end of the scale, Blanc Vite teaches time-poor guests how to cook fast, fresh food. Other popular picks include the patisserie course, the chocolate heaven course and vegan cooking. Half day courses start from £195.
If you are more keen to learn about how the food is grown rather than how it is prepared, there is also the Raymond Blanc Garden School. The full-day courses are led by head gardener Anne Marie and her team, and cover topics such as Grow Your Own Vegetables, Micro Herbs & Edible Flowers. Courses start in May and run until October, with prices starting from £250 including a working lunch and refreshments. Children’s courses are also available in the school holidays.
Le Manoir has always been a special place to eat and stay. But now with its foodie and green-fingered courses on offer, it provides a luxury escape for those wanting to indulge but learn something at the same time... without the need for travel testing and potential last-minute changes to travel rules. What’s not to love?
For more information, go to belmond.com/lemanoir