Imagine waking up, pulling back the curtains, opening the door to your private courtyard, pouring coffee in your robe before a pre breakfast swim. Post swim, that’s exactly what kind of breakfast I enjoyed on Monday. Said meal was toasted sourdough that was freshly baked, with feta and avocado (this is not a marker on the quality of a hotel stay, but I do love my avocados at breakfast, and this was particularly lovely). For a moment though, probably best I step back to the Sunday afternoon, as that’s when we arrived at Dormy House (having known what I know now, I would’ve booked a whole week).
Dormy House is situated on the Farncombe Estate, it is a glorious sprawl of forest and field, with rambling trails and cycle routes and, of course, home to not only Dormy House, but Foxhill Manor and The Fish. From the moment we checked in to our room and opened the bottle of champagne waiting for us, it was pure bliss.
We had one of the bigger rooms and had plenty of desk and sitting space, and an ensuite with marble-set bathtub with shower. We had a lovely courtyard to ourselves. Splendid Rooms are spread between the Farmhouse and the Emily Wing, ours was outside of the main Farmhouse, which we loved.
Due to social distancing, we booked a 60 minute slot in the pool and thermal suites area, we were a little early (ok, so I wanted to sit on the sun terrace) so we spent some time at The Greenhouse pre swim. This is a chilled-out spa café with its very own sun terrace where spa guests can relax and spend some time in the sunshine. As it was the warmest day of the year so far, we were in our absolute element with chilled drinks and super stylish sunbeds and oversized rattan furniture before our swim, swathed in white cotton waffle robes and peppermint green flip flops.
The pool is past the most luxurious nail salon, as we stepped in from the sun and made our way to the changing rooms; I was rather impressed by the interiors and the champagne style nail stations, with bottles encased in gold metal and glass walls. Social distancing at this point was definitely in our favour as two of the four people in the pool, at this point my inner child reminded me it was the first indoor swim in almost a year so I made the most of the blissful drifting for as long as I could.
The next bit was something I’d looked forward to for a while, I must admit; I’d even studied the menus. As my diet is most plant based it’s usually a few dishes on the menu that are ok. However, what happened next was almost the cherry on the (preferably gluten free) cake. The Vegan menu, even Mr C was impressed, the self-proclaimed steak eater that he is.
We were greeted by the ever so knowledgeable Simone, for whom nothing was too much trouble. She guided us through the menu suggested a crisp dry Rose and you could clearly see that she was an absolute natural. We took advantage of the beautiful cloudless sky and sat in the kitchen garden whilst eating dinner, surrounded by runner beans, courgettes and butterflies fluttering past (there’s even the sweetest private dining room at the end of the garden that can be dressed for special occasions, tastefully painted in a faded emerald with twinkling fairy lights).
I chose to skip starters as I’d already promised myself a closer look at the desert menu, however I did have some of the freshly baked sourdough, warm and fluffy accompanied by a dairy free butter alternative (this I may add, attention to detail is what stands out). My main I could only describe as Summer on a plate, a ravioli of peas from the garden in a delicate pesto; aesthetically and flavour wise it could not have been better. My dessert was a White chocolate sphere, dulcey cremeux, banana sour cream sorbet, sesame, lime once again, faultless (well, to be fair could’ve been bigger, but I’m greedy).
The restaurant’s set up to showcase and celebrate the best of the back garden – literally – and has a concept where every single dish showcases the best of the Cotswolds. Sustainability and seasonality are at the heart of the Back Garden philosophy; that means slow foods, high-welfare rare-breed meats, and responsibly cultivated grains and veg – all sourced and served in tune with the rhythms of the land. No pretension or gimmicks, just inventively prepared flavour-first food that’s true to the land it came from and you can see and taste this ethos.
The relaxed atmosphere continued, as the sky changed from pale blue to darkest navy, bats replaced swallows flickering overhead and we decided on a nightcap in The Potting Shed. As with the rest of Dormy House, there are quirks that are unique to the establishment, that create unique experiences, whether it’s the freshest smoothie in the greenhouse to the wine on tap in the potting shed (yes, wine on tap you say?! Yes, you heard me right, they’ve installed a new wine dispensing machine in The Potting Shed so guests can help themselves to their vino of choice). Being the absolute rebel that I am, I considered the wine on tap an experience for my next visit and had a coffee before we retreated to our beautiful room for an earlier than expected, but nevertheless unbroken night’s sleep.
Which brings me back, to the beginning of this piece, describing our idyllic stay. Waking up to the loveliest breakfast, wishing we’d stayed longer.