A Food Lover’s Paradise in Aylesbury – The Five Arrows Hotel
I can’t imagine that anyone has missed out on hearing about the Rothschilds’ wealth (and wine), but what you may not know is that in the 1880s Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild set about building himself an impressive home in Aylesbury. Waddesdon Manor was built both to house his extensive collections, and to entertain his guests in lavish style.
The building of Waddesdon Manor was such a huge undertaking, which also involved a spur railway line being built for the materials to be transported, that Rothschild also built a house at the gates of the Manor in 1887 for the craftsmen, architects and artisans to live whilst working on the Manor. This is now the Five Arrows hotel. Its name is derived from the Rothschild family emblem of a shield surrounded by five arrows.
The grade 2 listed hotel has recently been refurbished. The garden and the bar have had a make-over and made accessible to locals and guests alike. With a barbeque planned every Sunday from 3 pm to 7 pm, this is going to be a well-used spot I’m sure. I loved the fact that the bar had a coravin system, which meant that I was able to have a rather lovely glass of Sancerre in the garden whilst my partner Alex enjoyed a craft beer.
Our room was situated in a little block of what once might have been stables. Each room is named after one of the famous Rothschild wines.
It was rather lovely with its own lounge complete with a fascinating coffee-table book telling the history of the building of Waddesdon Manor. The rooms are decorated in a modern style, in soft natural colours with layers of texture. We found our room to be a relaxing haven. It was indeed the perfect place to switch off from London life.
We were lucky enough to experience two dinners at the hotel. The menu is wisely small with beautiful local ingredients. I have to be honest and say that the standard of cooking was much better than I’d anticipated. This is a real foodies restaurant.
On our first evening, we started with a delicately smoked salmon for me and an unusual rabbit pasty for Alex.
Rabbit can be tricky to cook as it dries out easily, but this was tender and provided a really tasty filling to the pasty.
I then had a perfectly cooked flaking cod fillet with fresh spring vegetables topped with pretty pea-shoots. Alex enjoyed a flavourful medium rare sirloin steak with the best triple cooked chips we’d ever had (obviously I had to try one in the interests of research!).
My English cheese plate came with some tangy home-made beer pickled onion and fig chutney. Alex’s Peach Melba Bakewell looked pretty and tasted delicious.
During the Saturday we went out and about, had a little walk, then headed off in search of champagne coupes for me for another blog post, and in search of craft beer for Alex. My quest was less successful than his, as he soon found the Chiltern Brewery nearby. The knowledgeable staff allowed him to taste a variety of their on tap beers, and me to taste some of their gin.
Their 3 hops dry gin found its way home with me, as did a selection of bottled beers for Alex. We missed the brewery tour, which takes place most Fridays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and includes a tutored beer and food matching session. These can be booked online.
On our second evening, I started with a creamy wild mushroom tart made with a perfect parmesan pastry, and crispy lamb belly served with grilled baby gem lettuce with cucumber, mint yoghurt for Alex.
This was another first, and I thought it a lot nicer than pork belly. The yoghurt cut through the rich fatty meat beautifully.
We then shared the Waddesdon chicken. Succulent and moist, with extra crispy skin it’s easy to tell why it’s a menu staple. The whole chicken to share was in demand, so if you fancy this, I’d advise pre-booking it in order to avoid disappointment.
My pannacotta had the perfect wobble, and Alex’s grilled pineapple a perfect caramelisation.
We slept well in the large and comfortable bed, and despite having eaten a lot a might before, managed a full English! That meant that a walk was in order. The Five Arrows provides its guests with a complimentary ticket to the grounds of Waddesdon Manor.
We loved the grandeur, the formal walled gardens, and the aviary where important conservation work continues to be carried out.
I’m thinking of building a bottle sculpture just like the Rothschild one, what do you think?
A National Trust shop like no other, there are Rothschilds wines to be purchased here, and also to be drunk. A coravin meant that I was lucky enough to be treated by Alex to a 1937 Maury. Wow, it was amazing, so complex and beautiful.
Waddesdon provides many different types of special events including guided walks, open-air theatre productions, tree climbing and many more. One that caught my eye is for all the ‘chiliheads’ out there. Waddesdon is hosting a Chili Fest from 31st August to 1st September. Featuring traders, sizzling hot food, live music and salsa dancing and craft activities for the children, it sounds like a lot of fun to me. Booking is via the website.
The beauty of the Five Arrows hotel is that it’s very accessible from London by car or rail, yet it feels like you’ve had a real break. How often can you say that you’ve stayed somewhere once owned by Baron Rothschild? That’s only one reason to go, but do go!
Buckinghamshire HP18 0JH
Five Arrows Hotel,
Aylesbury HP18 0JE, UK
Ash Lee Road,