The Manor House Hotel & Golf Club, Castle Combe, England
The golf course makes excellent use of water features
The Manor House Hotel & Golf Club, Castle Combe, England
A golf buggy may prove to be your best friend on this undulating golf course
The Manor House Hotel & Golf Club, Castle Combe, England
The enchanting setting threatens to distract you from your every shot
MANOR HOUSE, CASTLE COMBE, ENGLAND
- Romantic Breaks: Exquisite setting in rolling English countryside;romantic hotel with an abundance of private areas; Michelin Starred restaurant; old world glamour.
- Family Vacations: Lots of outdoor activities; special family guestrooms; easily accessible from London and Bath.
A GOLFING JEWEL AND ONE OF
ENGLAND'S CROWNING GLORIES
If ambience makes the heart grow fonder, to paraphrase the Bard, you'll fall head over heels when you see Castle Combe. On the periphery of the Cotswolds near Bath, this quintessentially English village (for long acclaimed as the prettiest in the land) will leave you with senses soothed and your soul at peace.
That’s not all, though: wander down the narrow main street, edged by houses of honey-hued Cotswold stone, and opposite the village pub you’ll spot the driveway that leads to the Manor House Hotel. Investigate and you’ll lose your heart at first sight. Stay there and you’ll itch to return.
Here’s a historic country house that will renew fond memories of uncompromising standards, an hotel par excellence where no detail is too small to be overlooked. Elegant informality and sheer good taste are rampant and the ambience will knock your socks off!
It doesn’t end there, either. It has a golf course that will have your eyeballs standing out like chapel hat pegs. If you’ve a special occasion in prospect, an anniversary perhaps, or are simply seeking a romantic hotel with first rate golf and every accoutrement, then look no further. There are very few of such quality in the UK. It is an irresistible combination.
11 miles from Bath (and 70 from London), Castle Combe is situated on the southern-most edge of the Cotswolds.
Click here to see a local map.
Siutated in 365 acres of beautiful English countryside, the Manor House Golf Club was one of the first designed by the Peter Alliss/Clive Clark partnership and is a feast for all the senses: voluptuous and dramatic is an apt description. Heavily wooded and undulating, with enticing contours, oodles of water and a good deal of lateral movement, it offers a red-blooded challenge, demands sound course management, an inventive short game and no little imagination.
The topography, as much as the design, dictates strategy: some severe changes in elevation will have you scratching your head on club and shot selection. There are several lakes and the meandering river keeps them nicely topped up. The greens are long and narrow in the main and frequently laid side-on or head-on to present small targets, most with mounding or generous bunkering for nuisance value.
There have been some modifications, notably in the routing, since it was laid out 1989. The start and the finish are essentially unchanged, as is the master design, but those who recall the course will discover that some holes mid-round have been re-numbered and lengthened. Thus, the outer loop is now anti-clockwise; the inner clockwise. This eases the logistics of navigation in the necessary golf carts.
Originally some 6,230 yards to standard scratch of 70, the lay-out has been extended to 6,500 yards via the introduction of championship tees. The course plays rather longer than this, though. Those contemplating strutting the tiger tees should approach them only after a proper breakfast or a hearty lunch, preferably including red meat. Do not take them lightly…
That said, a round here might prove the most fun you’ve had fully clothed in daylight. A chap could play this course every day for a week without succumbing to boredom and he’d find some new challenge each time. He’d need to play the course at least twice to appreciate the nuances and the various options in a masterpiece of golfing architecture. This is a classic of the genre.
Some of the holes, indeed, deserve wider acclaim: the par four 5th of 467 yards is a jewel. It’s a right-angled dog-leg, left to right, with bunkers on the inside elbow, trees down the length of the left side of the fairway and a lake guarding the approaches to a long narrow green surrounded by bunkers. A four here is akin to a birdie for most and you’ll need to nail the tee shot into position A to even consider it. Play for a bogey and hope for a single putt, is the alternative.
The 12th is a par five you’ll want to photograph, a dog-leg across a valley with trouble on both sides and the river running across the fairway in the green approaches. Play it smart, is sound advice: you won’t over-power this beauty even though it’s not much longer than the old par four maximum of 475 yards. Take a long iron or fairway wood off the tee and then lay-up. Card a five and smile!
Bewitching beauty aside, the course has a lovely tempo with several true three-shotters and a couple of par fours that appear drivable but are fraught with danger. The 3rd, for instance is a straight-away hole that’s 600 yards from the back down a tree-lined fairway. Its name is Doolittle because this is where some scenes from the film of that name, starring Rex Harrison, were filmed. Compare it to the 8th which is barely 300 yards, and the 13th which is only 289 from the tiger tees. Easy peasy birdies, you’d think, but both can result in big numbers, as Tiger might say.
There’s a gorgeous set of par threes, the most striking being the 17th which is both scenically breathtaking and unique, a real heart throb. Unique? How about two greens and a set of tees for each? The latter are on a hill top; the former, edged by the river, snuggle among trees 120 feet below. The two greens are there simply for variety and play quite differently, with variable shot lines from their respective tees.
Like the nearby village, the finishing hole may be the prettiest in England and some way beyond. There’s trouble on both sides so the tee shot must be pin-point: a draw aimed at the big tree on the gentle bend would be perfect, leaving perhaps a mid-iron to a green with a narrow opening and surrounded by sand with a lake on the right. A lay-up in the rising green approaches is the shot, particularly if the flag is at the rear.
Take five and smile your way to the nearby 19th and order a bottle of bubbly to celebrate a perfect day. You’ll experience nothing quite like it – until you set out again on the morrow to do it all again… It's irresistible.
Away from the delights of the Manor House Golf Club, you and your companions will be spoiled for choice with activities a plenty.
There are tennis courts and (seasonal) brown trout fishing within the hotel grounds. Nearby are facilities for lazer clay shooting (yes, really); “normal” clay pigeon shooting; hot air balloning (highly recommended if you have a head for heights); and archery.
For adrenalin junkies, the famous Castle Combe Race Circuit is on your doorstep.
There are also superb walks available nearby through the Castle Combe area of Wiltshire. Venture slightly further afield (with the use of a hire car) and you'll have your pick of the Georgian City of Bath; Stonehenge; and the Cotswolds, with its charming villages, stunning landscapes and variety of local attractions.
ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN
Depending upon the age of your children, most (or all) of the above activities will also be suitable for children.
Note that Castle Combe Race Circuit also offers go karting – guaranteed to put a smile on any child's face.
WHERE TO STAY
The Manor of Castle Combe, originally a vast country estate, is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The original castle, the fore-runner to the present country house, was built in the time of Henry I, the 13th Century.
Much of the present building is of 14th Century origins and though it retains a mediaeval ambience and structural appearance, with a veritable warren of corridors and stairways winding between foot-thick stone walls with mullioned windows, it is the epitome of modern luxury. All style and heaps of substance, you might say.
The guest rooms, with four poster beds and arched beamed ceilings, are sumptuous in décor and furnishings; the bathrooms, the pointer to all great hotels, are peerless. When you spot the welcome bottle of champagne on ice your initial impulse might be to lock the door and hide the key, content to indulge romantic inclinations and view the blissful setting that stretches out beyond your windows. But that would be to ignore the myriad outdoor facilities on offer: bicycles, woodland walks, fly fishing, tennis, golf…
The frontal elevation overlooks an expanse of lawn that’s home to a paved terrace with furniture for al fresco cocktails, a croquet pitch, a large putting green and an area set aside for open air concerts, all with a backdrop of ancient trees overlooking the River Bybrook.
Wild life abounds: deer are a common sight; heron may be spotted stalking the brown trout that populate the gurgling river. On the other side of the house the guest room windows give views of ornamental Italian gardens and rockeries with open countryside beyond. Idyllic is an ineffectual adjective here.
The Manor House has its own Michelin Starred restaurant: the Bybrook Restaurant. Alternatively, for something a little less formal, the Woodbury Restaurant in the Manor House Golf Clubhouse offers a gastropub-type experience. Transfers to and from the Clubhouse are available by golf buggy.
You can also take advantage of the hotel's “pick and choose” menu anywhere that takes your fancy inside or outside the hotel – and there are an abundance of ‘comfy’ nooks and stylish ‘crannies’ around the hotel for you to make your own and enjoy a more private supper, snack or champagne and nibbles.
WHEN TO GO
Golf is playable throughout the year in this part of the world (even if fair-weather English golfers will try to tell you otherwise). However, little in life is better than a gloriously warm spring, summer or early autumn day spent chasing birdies on the Manor House golf course, or strolling through Castle Combe village.
Click here to see a weather forecast for the next five days.
TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR HOLIDAY
Castle Combe is within comfortable driving distance of London and Heathrow airport (around 1.5 hours drive away). Alternatively, express trains run from London Paddington train station to Bath (11 miles fro Castle Combe) or Chippenham (5 miles away). Hire cars are available from Hertz in Bath.
If travel by road or rail is not to your liking, the Manor House has its own helicopter landing pad. Phone ahead to arrange landings.
To get the most from your trip to Castle Combe, a car is highly recommended (as is almost always the case when holidaying in the English countryside).
Packing Tips & Dress Code
Smart casual clothing is acceptable in the hotel. Walking boots or sturdy shoes would be a good idea if you plan to go walking through the local countryside, or venture into the Cotswolds.
£ sterling. For current rates of exchange, click here.
The country code for the UK, and the area code for Castle Combe, is +44 (0) 1249 (then add the local number).
HOW TO BOOK YOUR VACATION
Request a Quotation or Use Our Recommended Golf Tour Operator
PGT can negotiate discounted rates and bonuses for our readers. Simply contact us giving details of preferred dates and your requirements and we will contact the resort on your behalf.
Alternatively you could
Book Through A Tour Operator
If you require a total holiday package including flights, transfers, accommodation and golf reservations PGT will recommend the tour operator who serves the resort or destination of your choice and negotiate any possible discount available.
Insurance isn't fun but it is both important and a sensible investment when travelling overseas (particularly when transporting expensive golf equipment). We recommend American Express .