The icing on the cake: top 5 hotels for baking retreats

By , 1st October 2015

Thanks to the popularity of TV shows like The Great British Bake Off, baking is back with a bang. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of the best country hotels offering up irresistible cooking courses.

So why not follow in the footsteps of your favourite contestants and combine your time in the kitchen with a luxury break? From master chocolatiers in Winchester to organic eats in Cork, we have your gourmet aspirations covered – and just a scone’s throw away.

Lucknam Park

Chippenham, England

Lucknam Park luxury hotel

Located in the charming Cotswolds, close to both Bath and Chippenham, Lucknam Park is a beautiful estate boasting 500 acres of listed parkland. Offering luxury at every turn, the 5-star hotel & spa features 42 individually-designed, elegant rooms and suites – many of which feature four-poster beds. Guests can also enjoy fine dining at the Michelin-starred Park Restaurant or eat al-fresco at the Brasserie.

Lucknam Park luxury hotel

Lucknam Park is also home to an esteemed Cookery School, led by the hotel’s own Michelin-starred Executive Chef, Hywel Jones. Located in a small house on the estate, the state-of-the-art kitchen offers a range of seasonal and speciality courses designed to help you unleash your inner Paul Hollywood. Adult and Child, as well as Kids Only courses are also available.

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Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons

Great Milton, England

Baking Course with Raymond Blanc at Belmond Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons

Billed as one of Britain’s finest gastronomic experiences, the Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons is the celebrated hotel from celebrity chef Raymond Blanc. Featuring just 32 unique rooms, the hotel offers an intimate environment for the perfect countryside retreat. The hotel’s restaurant is the proud recipient of two Michelin stars, thanks in part to the use of the freshest ingredients, grown in the hotel’s own gardens.

Baking hotels: Belmond

But that’s not the only option for gourmet tastebuds – the hotel also offers a range of hands-on cooking courses. Regardless of level or expertise, guests can sign up for half-day, full-day and residential five-day courses. Bakery and confectionary options include a two-day bread-making course, an introduction to patisserie and chocolate workshops.

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Ballymaloe House

Midleton, Ireland

Baking hotels in Ireland: Ballymaloe

Known as Ireland’s ‘most famous dining room’, Ballymaloe House is something of an institution. The traditional country house hotel offers a range of simple and elegant guestrooms with a welcoming feel – but it’s clear that the real passion here lies in food. The popular restaurant serves up delicious dishes using ingredients from the hotel’s walled garden and farm, with the ever-changing menu based upon what has been harvested.

Baking hotels in Ireland: Ballymaloe

But if you want to try your hand at recreating any of Ballymaloe House’s great dishes, you can check out recipes online – or better yet, register for one of the courses available at Ballymaloe Cookery School, located on a fully-certified private organic farm.

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Swinton Park

Masham, England

Baking hotels: Swinton Park

A luxury castle hotel in the Yorkshire Dales, Swinton Park is an idyllic place for anyone looking to hone their cookery skills. Found in a converted stable on the Swinton Estate, the Cookery School overlooks the castle turret and green parkland, with a period Deerhouse used for barbecue sessions. For anyone inspired by Mary Berry, the school runs several courses on baking – from beginners to advanced – as well as those specifically designed to help you get the most from your AGA.

Cookery courses: Swinton Park

Swinton Park offers a range of luxury accommodation, combining classic furniture with modern entertainment features, such as complimentary WiFi and flat screen TVs. For that extra special appeal, all rooms are named after a town in Yorkshire, with the unique design of each inspired by its namesake.

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Lainston House

Winchester, England

Lainston House winter

A charming 17th century country manor situated in the midst of 63 acres of parkland, Lainston House is a beautiful escape into the English countryside. The hotel’s wide range of unique guestrooms feature sumptuous furniture and elegant colour schemes to create a regal atmosphere. And dining is no less impressive: guests can take afternoon tea in the drawing room, dine in the award-winning restaurant The Avenue or take to the terrace in the summer months.

Season cookery school: Exclusive Hotels

But that’s not all – Lainston House is also home to Season, the Exclusive cookery school. Run in conjunction with other hotels in the Exclusive Hotels group, the organisers boast 4 Michelin Stars and 19 AA Rosettes between them. Any budding chefs with a sweet tooth won’t want to miss the Chocolate Masterclass with Mark Tilling, a former UK Chocolate Master.

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