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How Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons changed British hotels

I spent the night at L’Orangerie, an accomplished blend of limed oak, stone and marble with a French chateau feel. Although the majority of rooms were designed more than 20 years ago, they are in pristine condition. Even so, they will soon be undergoing a facelift; the costs are no longer Blanc’s responsibility since selling to high-end hotel group Belmond in 2014 (which was acquired by luxury behemoth LVMH five years later).

There are plans to add another dozen or so bedrooms – the number changed each time Blanc mentioned it; his brain not always in sync with his zeal. 

Further innovation is afoot. Although the vines have yet to be planted, Le Manoir’s own wine blend is already in the throes of creation with local vintners. In the same way Blanc partnered with scientist Nicholas Kurti to investigate molecular gastronomy – which one of his protégés, Heston Blumenthal, famously went on to develop (with his blessing) – they have been working on revolutionary methods of speeding up wine production.

When I enquired about the Belmond buyout, Blanc became overwhelmed. “I lost most of Le Manoir through a bad recession and a transition period of buying and selling. It’s hard, complicated and personal, and it hurt me”. Does he still feel a sense of propriety? “Emotionally, intellectually, in terms of vision and the context of everything, yes, but it isn’t my place. To be honest, it doesn’t matter. I am the custodian and we are fireflies, passing by. The whole point is to leave something beautiful behind, not for yourself”.

It could be argued that part of his legacy is the vast inflation of hotel room rates we have seen in recent years. While prices at Le Manoir officially start at £690, a quick look at its online booking tool tells you there are no rooms for under £935 between now and the end of this year. A Saturday night in mid June will set you back £2,855 for a one-bedroom suite, including breakfast. Dinner comes in at £245pp.