After a 45-minute train ride to Aylesbury Vale Parkway from London Marylebone, alongside the Bicester Village flock, I took a five-minute taxi to the historic Waddesdon and, more specifically, the boutique Five Arrows Hotel. A wonderful mix of Victorian and Elizabethan architecture, the 19th-century hotel is situated at the gates of Waddesdon Manor and is the most idyllic place to rest after a stroll around the countryside.
A Grade II-listed building on the site of an old coaching inn at the gates of Waddesdon Manor, Five Arrows Hotel gets its name from the Rothschild’s family emblem of a shield covered by five arrows. The hotel was originally used to house the architects, craftsmen and artisans who were working on the manor and designed with elaborate Elizabethan chimney stacks and twisted ironwork – typical of the architect James Taylor’s style. Nowadays, the strikingly beautiful building is a luxury boutique hotel with 16 rooms and home to an outstanding restaurant.
Greeted by an informal, yet extremely friendly, concierge sat by the entrance, I was guided back outside to my room for the night, which turned out to be a suite in an outbuilding. Room 9 or, as it’s affectionately named, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, is a newly-refurbished modern room with a nod to the hotel’s heritage. Designed by Design House Winchester, the suite was stylish and contemporary with a country house touch.
After a serene stroll around the village and hotel grounds, I took a large bubble bath using The White Company toiletries provided; the fragrance cloaking the room as I got ready for dinner. The suite had its own living area stocked with blankets, tea and biscuits, which really made it feel like a cosy cottage and a home-away-from-home. As the sun set and the stars started to emerge in the night’s sky, it was time to walk the 30 seconds to the hotel’s restaurant.
Similar to the room, the restaurant had a contemporary but relaxed interior with a roaring fire and Rothschild’s coat of arms scattered across the walls. The hotel restaurant is a destination in its own right, with locals as well as guests flocking to enjoy its menu. Fully booked with the comforting hum of conversation, it was the first time I had seen people that day.
The menu was simple and carefully curated with local and delicious ingredients. I chose the tasting platter to start, which gives you a selection of all the autumnal starters on the menu, including Waddesdon gin gravlax and Waddesdon Estate beef nugget. I followed it with the Creedy Carver duck breast cooked in quince for a main and washed it down with a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon which, like the rest of the wine, was from Waddesdon Manor’s very own wine cellar. Despite a full stomach, I finished my meal with the Tonka bean set cream decorated with caramelised white chocolate chunks, raspberries and mint – it was incredible. Even an after-dinner coffee couldn’t stop me from feeling sleepy, so I sauntered to my room to rest my weary head in the four-poster bed.
The next morning, as the sun crept through the cracks in the blinds and the distant song of twitterpated birds gently woke me up, it was time to head back to the restaurant for breakfast, which, once again, didn’t disappoint. The restaurant offered a continental buffet of cereals, fruit, yoghurt and toast alongside a large selection of cooked breakfast options on a menu. I went to the vegetarian full English and guzzled down plenty of coffee in preparation for the day ahead.
There are plenty of places to visit while staying in the sleepy village of Waddesdon, including Ascot, Waddesdon Manor and Bicester Village. What’s more, if you stay at Five Arrows Hotel you can received a VIP card offering you further discounts at the luxury Bicester Village shopping outlet. However, as I was literally on the doorstep of the manor, I decided to walk to the grounds and explore the former Rothschild Chateau.
As you leave Five Arrows Hotel, you’ll find the grand gates of Waddesdon Manor and its endless drive framed with conifers. You can ramble for another 20 minutes to the house or you can hop on the regular shuttle bus, which takes you from the car park to the house via the stables – which is now a temporary exhibition space with a café.
Built in the 1870s for Baron Ferniand de Rothschild, Waddesdon Manor was donated by the family to the National Trust and is now open to the public. Visitors can explore the many decadent rooms full of silk tapestries, family portraits, priceless ornaments and ornate furniture while learning about the history of the family and the grand house. I was particularly taken by the sheer number of lavish chandeliers as well as delicate tiles in every bathroom. If, like me, you have time, I would recommend heading down to the wine cellar to view the 12,000 bottles of Rothschild wines, including Chateau Lafite and Chateau Mouton (my hotel room’s namesake). I finished my exploration with a walk around the immaculate gardens, aviary and stables. Waddesdon Manor is a must-visit for history enthusiasts after a night at the Five Arrows Hotel.
Just a short distance from London, a stay in the luxurious Five Arrows Hotel is an ideal choice for rest and relaxation while enjoying the English countryside. Plucked out of a Dickensian novel, Waddesdon is a beautiful village that time, thankfully, forgot.