Muddy reviews: Burleigh Court Hotel, Stroud
Searching for an award-winning overnighter in the countryside with top nosh on demand? Escape to this 19th century, boutique manor house in the heart of the Cotswolds. Muddy packed the bags and checked in for the night.
This Bridgerton-esque manor house nestled in the Cotswolds was taken over by passionate hoteliers Corinna Rae and her husband James two years ago. As a local myself to the area I’d barely known it had existed, tucked away on the edge of Stroud, but in a short 24 months it has transformed into a bucket-list boutique hotel and dining destination, bagging the Best Boutique Hotel in the Muddy Awards 2021.
First built in 1800, the house itself was remodelled 100 years later by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis – creator of the famous coastal village of Portmeirion in North Wales – so it’s a proper period stunner.
Set on a steep, wooded hillside it has four bijou but beautiful acres of terraced gardens and rolling lawns where you can play croquet in the summer or imagine you are Phoebe Dynevor on the dreamy wooden garden swing. There’s also a peaceful chill-out Mediterranean-style terrace that has fire pits, a prime location for sipping spritzes all year round. With far reaching views over the Golden Valley it has one of the best vistas you’ll find in the AONB.
Classical, elegant, yet resoundingly unpretentious, it has a stand out location being just minutes from Stroud, a boho and arty market town, which scooped the Sunday Times Best Place to Live 2021. It’s also a cow’s whisker in the other direction from the National Trust’s Minchinhampton Common, with 700 acres of romantic landscape, featuring free-ranging Galloway cattle and 360 degree views. So far, so blissful.
There are 18 spacious rooms to choose from, and although the reception area isn’t huge the lounge and reading room with its comfy sofas and nooks is a lovely place to hang out. Oozing a contemporary country charm it has been done up with an attention to detail, with antique chic accents everywhere, from old oil paintings and ornaments to the quirky Gramophone with old records stacked alongside.
The bar is bijou in size – seating maybe no more than 10 – but it has lovely original features, from the oak flooring to an old safe which is now used to house a cigar collection. It’s also mightily well stocked with every spirit you could wish for along with organic wines from local boutique vineyards (Woodchester Valley Vineyard is steps away if you fancy taking a tour).
Country charm with a large dollop of luxury. The decor at Burleigh is beautifully sourced, an eclectic mix of antique, mid century and touch of modern, with Corinne’s keen eye for detail in the quirky wallpapers dotted around. We’d been here before for afternoon tea (one of the best I’ve had, hand on heart, and highly recommended) and the open fire and deep sofas are impossible to leave once you settle in.
The weekend we stayed there was a nice laid back atmosphere; couples chatting, friends clinking glasses and families, one of which was having a hoot of time playing Trivial Pursuit around a table together with a roaring fire (board games are readily available from reception, perfect for prizing them away from their phones or ipads).
There’s a big floor-to-ceiling, wood-panelled dining room which is quite stunning whether you catch it in the mornings for a coffee as light streams through the giant sash windows, or candle-lit by night when it feels deliciously decadent.
Outside there’s a beautiful and IG-tastic Art Deco pool which is open to guests in the summer months (too chilly for winter folks, sorry) but on a hot summer’s evening it’d make anyone feel like a film star for the weekend.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Making a name for the restaurant is one of Corinne and James’s main priorities, so I was intrigued to see how they had pitched the food. Burleigh prides itself on a 30-mile provenance, meaning what you get on your plate is sourced locally from local suppliers, or grown on the estate itself in the herb and vegetable garden.
The award-winning, two-rosette restaurant, which is rumoured to be heading for a third I hear from the Muddy grapevine, is headed up by chef Shaun Jones, who has previous impressive form at The Calcot Collection and the Bell at Sapperton. The dining room was dark and moody, so much so we actually had to use my iphone to peruse the menu, but the ambiance also made it feel deliciously intimate and epicurean (oh so perfect for any romantics out there wanting to dine à deux.)
The menu is tightly curated, there were 5 starters and 6 mains to choose from, with a strong modern Cotswolds feel to it, focusing on rich meats and flavours.
For starters I went for the Red Cabbage Cured Salmon with Pickled Cucumber, Beetroot and a lovely dollop of very Heston-esque honey and rosemary ice-cream (£10). It was very substantial (Mr M had to help me out) and the simple, rustic presentation and flavours were spot-on.
Mr Muddy went with the Pork and Prune Terrine with Focaccia Crisp (£12), which was a lovely dish and got polished off at speed.
For mains I went seaward again, choosing Pan Fried Halibut FIllet with Girolles, Scallop and Chicken Beurre Blanc. Admittedly, at £24 it may not be on the cheap side, but it was feather light, beautifully presented and a heavenly combo of flavours.
Mr Muddy went for the 8oz 32 Day Dry Aged Wiltshire Sirloin Steak (£28), which was incredibly delicious and a real appetite-satisfying hunk of meat.
There are four desserts to choose from and each looked hugely tempting. We went for the Ice Peanut Butter Parfait with Chocolate Soil, Chocolate Mousse and Berry Parfait (£10) which was thick and creamy and an absolute treat, it even beat Mr Muddy, it was so filling, but I gladly helped him out.
Meanwhile I had the Pear & Ginger Cake (plant-based) with an Oat Chantilly and Rosemary Caramel (£10). I must say I adored this dish, light, not too sweet and a real high to end the meal on.
If you still aren’t full after three courses by some miracle you can move on to the English Cheeses which come with Celery, Grapes and Quince & Wafer Crackers. (£12), but we were blissfully ready to roll out of of the room by this point.
All in all, although priced high, the food really shone, it’s the kind of place that really works as a dining destination in its own right and we’d definitely be back for a special occasion.
Oh, and if you’re bringing the nippers, although there is no official kids menu, the restaurant can whip up whatever they want on an individual, bespoke basis – which in my view sounds far lovelier than a bog standard goujons ‘n chips offering.
There are 18 rooms to choose from at Burleigh in five categories: classic, cosy, superior, noteworthy and pooch-friendly in the adjacent coach house.
Much to our dog’s chagrin we nabbed a Romantic Room, which meant he had to stay at home, but it was so worth it. The room is glorious, with a dreamy four poster bed, original wood floor, cast iron fireplace, window seats looking out over the terrace and gardens and a stunning spacious bathroom with a crystal chandelier. It was like bedding down in a period drama for the night.
Tasteful tradition and attention to detail rules the day here, with muted colour schemes, graceful wallpapers by Tuscan designer Amanda Ferragamo, and elegant squishy armchairs.
One of my favourite parts of the stay was closing the door after a long week, and luxuriating in the bubbly spa bath which when it got going kicked up quite a surf. Absolute bliss. Elsewhere in the room there was everything you’d expect, from a generous supply of tea, coffee and biscuits, complimentary Wi-Fi, luxurious organic toiletries and feathery pillows to fluffy bathrobes and slippers
Families are also well catered for at Burleigh with the Family Suite, which can be booked from £189 per night. Featuring a snug area, four-poster bed, bunk beds, stunning views, a little private terrace and of course pool-side location and direct access to the large lawn and lawn games should they need to burn off some steam.
Breakfast needs its own shout out. Nothing was too much trouble for the attentive staff, from my fussy oat milk order as a non-dairy eater, to the extra sausages on our tasty full English. I loved the little touch of the Pure Raw Burleigh Honey which comes in fat, tubby jars on the buffet that you can ladle out onto thick wedges of locally made bread, made by Burleigh’s very own bees that live in hives on the lawn.
From big vintage bowls filled with granola and juicy fruit salad to seasonal pumpkins scattered around with clutches of fresh flowers cut from the garden, it was lovely.
Plus, the view with a morning coffee as the sun came up over the hills was one of the best ways I can think of to start a day.
GOOD FOR: Special occasioners and frazzled couples wanting a night away, we felt fully recharged when we left. Foodies will be in their element here, the restaurant is a dining destination in its own right. Great for families, plus there are a host of experiences you can book from the hotel (e-bike tours across the Common, horse and pony riding at nearby Barton End Stables). Groups of friends wanting a stylish getaway within reach of a buzzing great market town.
NOT FOR: Spa seekers. Also, dog lovers will need to book a Coach House room, pets are made to feel very welcome but can only stay in this block, as the rooms have access to the outdoors.
A Classic Double in the Coach House starts at around £159 per night, with complimentary wifi. Our three-course meal for two came to around £95, without wine, add on a bottle of red and expect to pay in the realms of £125. Not your cheap eats, but this is stand-out, AA Rosette cheffing.
Book in for a cosy pre-Christmas stay or dining experience with one of their festive afternoon teas, lunches and dinners and a special offer stay from £199 for dinner, bed & breakfast – click here to find it.