JACKIE: We want to Talk about two noble locations in England; again David is solo, while I’m holding down the fort and planting the snow peas….
DAVID: Somerset and Wiltshire, two of England’s most beautiful counties, boast two of her most beautiful towns and villages with two of her most outstanding hotels.
THE MANOR HOUSE, CASTLE COMBE, WILTSHIRE. About 350 people live in this magical village; but millions have seen it – on television and in the movies. I discovered it in 1967 when my friend Ray Aghayan designed the costumes for the Rex Harrison movie musical, Doctor Dolittle, and urged me to visit. (Years later I would speak with Mr. Harrison and gain permission to use clips of his performance in my That’s Hollywood TV series.) Now I was back, having just seen the small, wondrous village co-starring in the new movie War Horse.
I stayed, thanks to Edward Boulton, Marketing Coordinator, and GM Stephen Browning, at The Manor House, the absolutely perfect country house hotel. The years have been more than kind to the superbly designed house. Today there are scrumptious accommodations which have earned The Manor House its 5 Star status; you can play golf, tennis, croquet, go fly-fishing in its lake, or just get busy doing nothing, all on its 365 acre wonderland. My two days were happily spent in one of the completely modernized (without loss of the original character) cottages. Dinner was taken in The Manor House’s “Michelin-starred” Bybrook restaurant where I relished the cuisine of young Chef Richard Davies. All new since my first time here. What has not changed is the warm Cotswold stone of the main hotel and the luxurious cottages. A few steps away and you can wander the enchanted 17th century village and re-live the movies it has co-starred in. My two days and nights were just enough to make me want to return regularly to Castle Combe and the magnificent Manor House Hotel. I heartily recommend it!
JACKIE: Luckily, I have seen the enchanting Castle Combe; unluckily, I’ve not experienced the hotel … yet.
DAVID: QUEENSBERRY HOTEL, BATH, SOMERSET. A few short miles away and you are in another county, almost another world. Bath is well known for its stellar attractions: the famous Roman Baths, its museums, and its celebrated daughter Jane Austen. Bath’s antique shops, amazing Georgian architecture, the Royal Crescent, and Pulteney Bridge over the Avon River are treasures. However, there’s another treasure I’ve just discovered – the boutique Queensberry Hotel where I spent two terrific days. The website tipped me off to the offbeat, friendly, contemporary quality offered by the owners, Laurence & Helen Beere. Take a look; you’ll enjoy the style. And I enjoyed the comfort of my excellent accommodation — a lovely junior suite reserved for me by charming General Manager Lauren McCann — the delicious full English breakfast, and the perfect location of the Queensberry. It’s an easy walk to all of Bath’s attractions and a short walk back for a good rest, a bracing shower, and then champagne in the Q Bar followed by dinner in The Olive Tree Restaurant. Quite a large space with quite a lot of well-dressed, mostly young people enjoying a Friday night treat. Mine left me dreaming of perfectly cooked risotto (with cepes and parmesan), one of the best filets of beef I have ever had (hands down!), and my pudding (dessert), a marvelous peanut butter ice cream.
An excellent Burgundy kept me and my food good company.
An offbeat house with features that bring a smile, the Queensberry is small, intimate, perfect for relaxing, and replete with caring, helpful staff. If you’ve never been to Bath, you don’t know what you’re missing — and if/when you go, don’t dare miss the Queensberry Hotel.
JACKIE: I did — missed the Queensberry and missed David.