Estelle Manor review: The Oxfordshire hotel and private member’s club that will appeal to honeymooners and families alike

Estelle Manor is a sanctuary from the rest of the world — a place where life is easy and everyone gets on. Jo Rodgers checks in.

Nobody ‘checks in’ at Estelle Manor, the hulking, Elizabethan-style mansion built in 1908 that reopened as a hotel and private member’s club in Oxfordshire last summer. That kind of shop talk punctures the atmosphere.

Instead, you chug up to the oak front door and the choreography begins: you’ve been expected, a man in a cap has the bags, you’re being led to a tastefully eclectic room with Frette sheets where you can run a bath, or put on a swimsuit and descend, light footed, to the 82ft, heated outdoor pool on the south terrace, with dandy vistas of the enveloping countryside.

It is such a frictionless arrival that sometime later you might wonder what happened to your car (it’s in an out-of-the-way lot by the gym).

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Upstairs, the manor house bedrooms are mostly occupied by couples (kids must be 13 or older), while families unpack in the walled garden, stables and a handful of standalone homes. There are restrictions about children in some of the restaurants, too, but the rules feel peacekeeping rather than punitive.

Though chic, Estelle Manor is squarely pitched for intergenerational travel: there are babysitters and miniature bathrobes, the world’s cleanest kids club (The Nook) and battery-operated, pint-sized Land Rovers (‘Toylanders’) parked in a bell tent on the front lawn.

That said, the more-is-more living room and library are thickly spread with dripping candles, conversation-starting objets d’art and low-slung, tasselled sofas. In the evenings after dinner, guests and club members range with nightcaps, perching on fenders in front of open fires.

It’s an uphill feat to be all things to all people, but, improbably, Estelle Manor threads the needle. 

At breakfast (get the homemade Beanz), the gamut of guests are together and everybody rubs along: honeymooners and new parents, friends on a holiday that will revolve around the pool, grandpas holding pink babies and an ingratiating faction of tail-thumping dogs.