This summer, Cowley Manor Experimental officially opened its doors in an idyllic setting in the Cotswolds, a short drive from Cheltenham. As a place that has inspired artists and authors for centuries and been a haven for creativity, Experimental Group, together with design collaborators Dorothée Meilichzon and De Matos Ryan and Chef Consultant Jackson Boxer, has breathed life back into the much cherished British country house hotel.
Cowley Manor has been a manor house at the heart of England’s history for more than 300 years, with the first iteration constructed in 1695. The land was once owned by Edward the Confessor, the property designed by the renowned R.A.Briggs and the estate a safe haven for locals in the war. It is also widely recognised as the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Today, it enters a new chapter under the tutelage of Experimental Group.
Sat within 55 acres of Cotswolds countryside, Cowley Manor is home to 36 bedrooms and suites, the award-winning C-Side Spa, restaurant, Experimental Cocktail Club Cotswolds Bar, lounge, library and plentiful living rooms. Interior Designer Dorothée Meilichzon has put her spin on its storied past, carefully weaving together classical inspiration with contemporary elements, placing baldaquin beds at the heart of each grand bedroom complemented by blurred maple and Verdigris. Touches of rattan, mixed with bold colours and glossy lacquer and statement lava stone feature throughout, alongside nods to Lewis Carroll’s iconic Alice in Wonderland: a small hidden door here, White Rabbit door knockers there, and an entirely bespoke checkerboard carpet throughout.
The bedrooms are divided into: Petite Cowley – the cosiest rooms located in the main house; Wildflower – spacious open plan suites with four poster beds in both the main house and stable block, some with outdoor terraces; WaterLily – a romantic suite overlooking the lake; Alpaca’s Room – havens for the whole family featuring a sofa that magically turns into a bunk bed; Family Tree – a stone’s throw from the main house and set across three levels; and four hero suites including Churn’s River Junior Suite, St Mary Suite, Swan Lake Suite and Cowley Manor Suite.
A place for guests and the community alike. The new restaurant and cocktail bar at Cowley Manor is a place to mark a milestone, or simply enjoy a long lunch, dinner or afternoon tea. Celebrated chef Jackson Boxer leads the team as Chef Consultant with a menu woven with extraordinary local produce and paying homage to Experimental Group’s French heritage. As part of the hotel’s revival, the team have focused on evolving the kitchen garden, growing wider varieties of produce and increasing its size. The complementing cocktail and wine lists offer a mix of English and French wines, alongside classic cocktails and Experimental signatures.
An escape to nourish the soul, relax the body and emerge rejuvenated, C-Side Spa has reopened following an interior refresh for hotel and day spa guests. An iconic post-modern building carved out of the land flanked by two heated pools, indoor and out. Behind the doors, local vegan skincare brand Monu Skin is at the heart of each treatment – 100% natural, a combination of plants and essential oils – a real tonic for tired skin and sore muscles. The spa is also home to a fitness centre, sauna and steam rooms and five private treatment rooms.
Gently enveloped by meadows and pastures, with Italianate gardens at the heart, the original Cowley Manor gardens date back to the 19th century when the fertile soil was planted with ginkgo biloba, atlas blue cedar, grand sequoias and later, cypresses. Seven natural springs are at the heart of the gardens, with the upper lake flowing east to the middle lake on the River Churn. Delicately flowing through a Grade II listed water-staircase consisting of fountains and pools, created at the hand of James Hutchinson in the 19th century and overlooked by ornamental statues of eagles and lions carefully carved from stone. Early morning brings the promise of wildlife encounters and birdsong from woodpeckers, kinglets and kingfishers, and throughout the day, alpacas graze on pastures in the surrounding fields. Cowley Manor is a true playground for nature lovers, a place where head gardener David Masters lead guests on a trail of discovery.