Manoir aux Quat’saisons – A countryside retreat with lessons to give

This was my third visit to the Manoir – I went once as a teenager, once in my thirties and now in my 40’s it was time to visit again thanks to my lovely friends Clare and Rich.

This time I really did take in the whole experience – as if in another world where time has slowed down I was told not to lift a finger. Every thing was taken care of from the moment you drove through the iron gates to the moment you left. You didn’t have to ask – your questions were anticipated. This made for a very relaxing weekend-one that is great to reproduce when friends or family come to stay.

Here are five lessons to take away from such a luxury experience.

1. Make your guests comfortable with a nice sleeping space.

The bedrooms were really cosy and had everything from a sewing kit, to magazines, to slippers, to bathrobes, to a fruit bowl and some sweets. You can create the same hotel atmosphere by adding an extra blanket for example, a bowl of fruit from your garden (or shop bought), a bottle of water and some glasses, some magazines and books and a radio. If you can have extra pillows, bathrobes and towels that is fabulous. Nothing needs to be too smart otherwise guests feel they have to walk on eggs. The Manoir achieved it very successfully it really felt like home.

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2. Make your guests relax

Create a relaxed atmosphere in your living spaces such as your living room and kitchen. Nothing has to be perfectly tidy or too manicured but everything should be clean to show that you have made an effort. Lots of lovely seating, low tables to put drinks and snacks, a lit fireplace if it is winter and lovely scented candles. Everything a bit prepared in advance will make sure you enjoy yourself more and spend more time chatting to your guests.

3. Cook lovely meals and create a sense of occasion

Make an effort to cook or to buy something yummy and display it in a nice dish. Set a beautiful table…you don’t need a white table cloth but candles and flowers and a few trinkets to decorate your table. Show the wine and drinks on offer on a trolley or side table so people don’t feel they need to ask for extra. Start by offering olives, crisps or little canapés with a drink.

4. Let them chill and explore your surroundings.

Provide your guests with a few ideas on what to do and visit according to their taste. You can lend them a map, guides and wellies if you have. You don’t need to always take them everywhere people are often happy to have a small explore on their own. If you have bicycles let them have an explore of the area.

5. Make sure you make them want to come back

Email them pictures of your weekend, give them a pot of jam you made or a bunch of flowers from your garden to take away to prolong their week end. You can also give them a few snacks for the road. This is a lovely touch if they live in the city and are in the country for fresh air and an escape.

Do you have other tips when you have friends and family come to stay? Would love to hear them.

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