In truth, it's just off the M40, though you wouldn't know it. The village of Great Milton – on the edge of which the hotel sits – is picture-postcard perfect, all rolling hills, village green and honey-hued homes. The closest station, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, is 45 minutes from London Marylebone. From here, a taxi ride takes about 15 minutes. The hotel also has a helipad, however, if that sounds rather too gruelling.
Style & character
Oxfordshire manor house meets French fancy. There is the archetypally British: manicured lawns, croquet games, 15th century ponds. The fanciful: Japanese ornamental gardens, elaborately and individually designed rooms (one, Jade, is inspired by a paddy field that sparked Raymond Blanc's imagination). Plus, of course, the foodie: a restaurant that takes centre stage, and improbably pretty kitchen gardens.
Service & facilities
Service is polished to perfection. Forget parking your own car, you can't even make your own coffee in your room, presumably because it would be so inferior to that which housekeeping delivers. For the foodie, facilities are fabulous. Do not expect a kids' club, pool or gym (though you can book in-room beauty treatments). Instead, there is The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, where everything from dinner party master classes to children's cookery courses are led by expert and friendly chefs. Plus, the new gardening school, based in the improbably beautiful Botanic Glasshouse within the grounds.
- Room service
The 32 rooms, designed by Emily Todhunter, each draw inspiration from Raymond Blanc's global travels. All are large, unstintingly luxurious and welcome guests with sugared almonds, a decanter of madeira and a selection of fruit. Some are more elaborately themed than others, so it really is worth checking which you are booking. Blanc de Blanc is entirely, well… blanc. Jade is dressed as an Asian boudoir. Many, however, have a more traditional French feel and the Garden Suites all have their own gardens.
Food & drink
This is the only British restaurant to have held two Michelin stars for more than three decades.
Accordingly, you can have a seven-course taster menu, bracketed by amuse-bouche and petite fours and prepared from seasonal, organic ingredients (the hotel's own garden supplies 90 different kinds of vegetables and 70 different varieties of herb to the kitchen). Breakfast, also served here, is delicate and divine: a buffet of bijou patisserie and a menu of petite hot dishes.
Cocktails meanwhile are expertly mixed in the snug, 1930s-style bar, while the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of over a 1000 different wines.
Value for money
Double rooms from £595. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi. With the seven-course set menu coming in at £162 a head, supper and a stay are going to sting. But what's the price for perfection?
Access for guests with disabilities?
All public areas are wheelchair-accessible and one Studio Suite (Citronelle) can be set up for wheelchair users.
Surprisingly so. While respect for fellow diners (and the amount they are spending on their dinner) demands that children refrain from throwing tantrums or bread rolls, the restaurant has an unrivalled children's menu complete with illustrations of Asterix characters. Kids are invited into the kitchen to choose their ice creams. In bedrooms, thoughtful quiz booklets and teddies in chef's whites are left as gifts. At the cookery school, La Petite Ecole welcomes junior master chefs aged seven and up, while the gardening school hosts Henri Le Worm Children's classes for kids.