We head to Gloucestershire to see how Thyme’s latest additions make incentive travel even more splendid
When was the last time you read the Domesday Book? Yeah, it’s been a while for us too. But if it happened to be recently, you’ll recall a mention of The Southrop Manor Estate. Just short of a millennium later and the former (alleged) monastic house is far less ecclesiastical. Any less worship-worthy though, it ain’t.
It’s now known as Thyme. Owned by the Hibbert family (with mum Caryn at the helm) it’s a country house hotel and retreat, where guests can stay in home-away-from-home style cottages. The Tallet, which sleeps eight is an incentive booker’s dream, and comes with a private courtyard for summer dining. For bigger groups you can hold a private dinner in the cathedral-esque Tithe Barn (they provide champagne at breakfast – enough said) and enjoy the spoils of the surrounding land, from homegrown cavolo nero to wild garlic, and straight-from-the-hive honey.
With incentives in mind, Thyme’s two new food offerings for 2018 mean that guests can stay within the Cotswold stone confines of Southrop for three nights, and dine in a different restaurant each evening.
The first new spot is the village pub, The Swan. It reopened in April having enjoyed an interior refresh – think village pub meets country house living room – and an update to its menus. Drinks in the courtyard (we supped on bellinis in the year’s first proper sunshine) should be followed by dinner at the long table in the main dining area.
Culinary director Charlie Hibbert and head chef Matt Wardman have paid homage to the village’s farming and Norman heritage – groups who like to know where their dinner’s come from will sleep easy (in one of Thyme’s seriously comfy beds; trust us) in the knowledge that the ingredients have not travelled much further than down the road. Our favourites? The goats curd, radish, wild garlic and soda bread starter was wholesome and cleansing, while the gargantuan main of a pie made for two – filled with chicken, bacon and wild garlic – was definitely the crowd favourite. A table full of those feasting-style? Winner.
You’ll have to wait for the hotel’s second restaurant to open. Part of the main Thyme building, The Ox Barn will be ready for diners come September. Charlie will be heading up the menus there too, so we’re expecting the clean, ingredient-led food he’s championing already at The Swan. Watch this space.