Norfolk terrier and PetsPyjamas Pet Inspector, Kiki, turned three in January; so we decided to whisk her away for a celebratory weekend in the Cotswolds. We wanted to find somewhere luxurious, where she would feel thoroughly spoilt, with a super comfy bed, lots of doggie extras, gorgeous grounds to play off lead, and lovely walks on the doorstep… so Whatley Manor was perfect!
To make sure she looked her best we booked Kiki into Le Wag, a super new grooming parlour in Fulham for a wash, fluff dry and facial with Sasha. Kiki absolutely loved it and when we collected her she looked rather pleased with herself – all fluffy and gorgeous and smelt lovely. And because she had been so good, we got her some Doghouse treats and a new toy to bring with her on the trip.
Kiki gets very excited when her travel bag comes out with toys and treats
and she knows she is going somewhere exciting and different. We always bring along her crate in case we need to leave her unattended in the room, as well as her favourite food, country tweed collar and lead plus a spare as well as shampoo as she has very short legs and invariably gets muddy on her country walks.
Luckily, Kiki loves travelling in the car and just like us, revels in a change of scene. The journey from London to Whatley Manor is just two hours and we decided to stop for lunch at nearby Westonbirt Arboretum, a magical place and home to over 2,500 different trees from the far corners of the globe.
We went along the Tree Top walk and to Silk Wood where Kiki could run off lead, and then we had a lovely lunch at the cafe where we sat outdoors with lovely views of the trees.
We whizzed along a few more country roads until we arrived at our destination – Whatley Manor, a very impressive 19th-century country house with long drive and 12 acres of gorgeous grounds and fields. This looked just the sort of place to escape from the hustle and bustle of London and we couldn’t wait to step inside.
Kiki got a wonderful welcome at reception and she behaved in a rather regal way as befitting the atmosphere of the place. Having said that it was anything but stuffy and relaxed, warm and welcoming. We were shown the spa which looked very inviting and we were looking forward to our treatments – I was booked for a Jade facial whilst Rory had opted for a session in a flotation tank.
We were then shown to our suite which was simply stunning. Conveniently situated on the ground floor with easy access to the gardens, the rooms were fabulous, with a luxury king size bed, separate sitting room and even a small front room which was especially set up for Kiki – with a comfy bed, ball, treats, biscuits and a birthday present from the hotel.
There was also a birithday card and welcome letter for `Kiki, inviting her to ramble through the grounds and smell the flowers as well as a list of walks from the door.
We immediately went for a stroll in the beautiful grounds with a designated area where Kiki had fun running off the lead and splashing in the stream. Then, we went off for our spa treatments whilst Kiki had an afternoon snooze in the room.
The spa is gorgeous with an inside and outside pool and our treatments were excellent and very relaxing. We both felt a bit zen afterwards as we returned to our room to dress for dinner.
However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of Whatley is the Dining Room which is a Michelin starred restaurant open Thursday to Sunday. The restaurant is presided over by executive chef Ricki Weston and is a real foodie destination.
We started with drinks and amuse bouche in the bar moving into the kitchen to meet Ricki and to sample the oyster course. After that we sat at our table and enjoyed the rest of the tasting menu which included black tortellini, turbot with edamame and black truffle, beef from the Manor and the famous chocolate frog with toasted rice ice crream
After what was one of the awe inspiring and fabulous meals ever, we drifted back to the room and took Kiki for a midnight stroll round the grounds.
We decided to take Kiki along for breakfast with us the next morning. We had a table away from the main restaurant but in a lovely setting by the window in the sitting room. We couldn’t quite manage a full English after our delicious meal last night, but we enjoyed some homemade granola, yogurt and fresh fruits. Meanwhile Kiki enjoyed a breakfast sausage.
After a final swim in the spa and spin round the grounds we were off home. Kiki had a really memorable birthday treat with lovely presents and fabulous walks and we had felt very spoiled too.
We cannot recommend Whatley Manor highly enough as a luxury dog-friendly destination. They really go the extra mile to make your stay feel really special.
Note: If you intend visiting Westonbirt Arboretum you need to book your ticket in advance.