Review: Eastwell Manor, Boughton Lees

PUBLISHED: 10:38 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:38 04 February 2020

Push out  the boat and stay in one of the Deluxe suites in the Manor (photo: Steve Lancefield)

Push out the boat and stay in one of the Deluxe suites in the Manor (photo: Steve Lancefield)

STEVELANCDFIELD.CO.UK

Escape from the mundane into an elegant country house experience complemented by a rather gorgeous spa

It's just five miles outside Ashford yet you feel in the heart of the countryside as you drive up the long sweeping drive towards elegant Eastwell Manor and its rolling acres.

The original house was demolished in 1926 and replaced by this faux historical pile, which has been the subject of ongoing refurbishment since being acquired in 2016 by Champneys.

However, the UK's original health spa's very first investment was in transforming the old Pavilion into a classic Champneys Spa, revamping the gym and pool as well as the treatment rooms and Spa Restaurant.

And it was to the Spa that My Blonde Mate and I were first headed, leaving a wet, cold afternoon behind as we entered a tranquil space of calm where everyone was in white robes and nibbling salads in the restaurant or lounging beside the pool.

One of the delicious desserts (photo: Fleur Challis)One of the delicious desserts (photo: Fleur Challis)

Soon suitably robed and flip-flopped ourselves, we headed upstairs for our treatments. Two hardworking gals, we'd both opted for much-needed massages: mine a Hot Poultice massage and MBM's a Lava Shell version.

Floating out, shoulders no longer under our ears, we headed straight for one of the relaxation rooms, reluctant to leave the warm, fragrant cocoon of the spa.

What followed next was certainly a bit of a contrast. Driving up the the manor to check in, we found we'd been assigned the Earl of Northumberland honeymoon suite. Lovely, but MBM had left her partner at home, I am still inexplicably single (I know!) and much as we like each other, we weren't planning to snuggle up for the night.

With the clock ticking and our dinner reservation getting ever closer, eventually a room near the spa was found and I did the decent thing; left MBM with the four-poster and the standalone copper tub and trundled off with my bag into the night towards my rather more contemporary quarters.

Eastwell Manor, Champneys Hotel & Spa sits within beautiful landscaped gardens (photo: Peter Kociha)Eastwell Manor, Champneys Hotel & Spa sits within beautiful landscaped gardens (photo: Peter Kociha)

Knowing my appalling sense of direction, I don't think she ever expected to see me back in the reception area but, dear reader, I made it and thought I'd warm myself up by the fire. Which wasn't lit. I've been coming to Eastwell Manor for years and the logs are always blazing, even in summer! I do hope it's not part of the second phase of improvements to the main house, which are now in progress. I love all the panelling, embossed plaster and air of rather faded grandeur.

Harmony was restored with a glass of very welcome champagne in the Manor Restaurant, all turquoise seating, soft lighting and mullioned windows. And a rather glorious feast lay ahead, with a menu that defied expectations that it might possibly be a tad 'safe.' It certainly wasn't, and the wine list was considerably smarter and shorter than the tome I remember from past visits.

My pan-seared scallops came with squash purée, crackly braised pork belly and a red wine jus, elevating a classic to new heights of rich, meaty deliciousness.

MBM opted for the woodland grouse, nicely balanced by spiced blackberries, chanterelle mushrooms and pistachio. Local, seasonal, different; a great start.

The fabulous indoor heated swimming pool (photo: Peter Kociha)The fabulous indoor heated swimming pool (photo: Peter Kociha)

To follow, I had the Kentish venison, which delivered up both loin and faggot, plus celeriac mash, juniper and bacon Savoy cabbage, carrots, curly kale and a port jus. Keeping it hearty, MBM chose the fillet of English rose beef, cooked perfectly as requested and accompanied by chips and wild watercress, to which she added seasonal greens.

The Cabernet Sauvignon we were enjoying was going down so well we decided to share a cheese plate to finish (which included my favourite Ashmore). Puddings did, however, look most tempting with choices like caramel and apple feast and a Burgundy pear tart.

Morning dawned not quite so wild and windy and we reconvened back in the restaurant for breakast - a buffet plus menu choices for cooked. We both had a traditional English, which didn't come with the promised black pudding (not a major issue, just a bit odd) nor toast (definitely odd).

A place still of great charm, but at the moment rather of two halves: spot on in the Spa, a bit haphazard up in the big house.

The essentials

What: Country house manor and luxury spa hotel

Where: Eastwell Park, Boughton Lees, Ashford TN25 4HT

When: Manor Restaurant open for dinner 6.30-9pm; Spa Restaurant open for lunch 12-2.30pm

How much: Scallops and braised pork belly £16.50, Kentish venison £32, line-caught seasonal fish £30

More from Food & Drink

Thu, 09:32

Dr Trouble is offering the chance to win a set of their all natural limited edition African Lemon Chilli Sauce and their limited edition African Double Oak Smoked Chilli Sauce – 25 sets up for grabs

Read more
Thursday, November 5, 2020

Get everything you need to keep everyone fed and watered throughout the Christmas period or pick up a gift or two from these great Kent producers

Read more
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

English wine is gaining in popularity and this winter could be just the time to try a few.

Read more
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Here’s something for all ages at our Halloween supper – the cocktail can be adjusted to be alcohol free for the kids | Words: Julie Friend - Photos: Julie Friend

Read more
Friday, October 23, 2020

With its wealth of culture, vibrant shopping areas and enticing eateries, Canterbury and its surroundings have much to tempt locals and visitors at this time of year.

Read more
Thursday, October 22, 2020

We are delighted to announce the finalists for the Kent Life Food & Drink Awards 2020! Congratulations to our wonderful finalists!

Read more
Friday, October 9, 2020

No Sunday is complete without a roast dinner, and in the glorious county of Kent you’ll be spoilt for choice with fantastic places to go. We have picked 12 great places where you can indulge in a roast with all the trimmings

Read more
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

It’s that time again, the Kent Life Food & Drink Awards are open for nominations

Read more
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

From saving money to helping the environment, there are many reasons to embrace shopping local

Read more
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Get a half price meal at these great Kent restaurants, pubs and cafes with the government’s #EatOutToHelpOut scheme

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Latest from the Kent Life