First impressions count, and Raymond Blanc’s fine-tuned take on country-house luxe will have you gasping from the moment the gorgeously appointed gardens and meticulously maintained manor house come into view. But rest assured, Le Manoir is no snooty, ‘temple of gastronomy’ kind of place. At its best it provides a silkily orchestrated, warmly attentive experience, and the kitchen earns its keep with near-faultless cooking based on classic French technique and the very best ingredients. A terrine of baby beetroot, burrata and horseradish sorbet is as simple as it gets, but elsewhere it’s luxury all the way – from superb wild Cornish brill with oyster, scallop, cucumber and wasabi or roasted fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef accompanied by pearl barley, girolles and red wine jus to thrillingly inventive desserts. Although serious financial outlay is required, this velvety trip should lull you into a sense of such enormous well-being that you’re not too troubled by the bill.