Turn left at the Rolls Royce garage to reach an equally luxurious classic. Down a single-track road deep in the Essex countryside, Royal Oak Manor sits serenely in the landscape. It’s a 16th-century gem with Tudor timbering and modern hardwood floors that’s ready to host up to 18 friends and family, stags or hens, plus a pooch or two.
Royal Oak Manor is immensely elegant, but is it entertaining? Eyes down for a full house. Let’s start with the 32-foot outside pool, heated to 29 degrees from April to October and offering its own pool house. Squint only slightly for the Marbella effect. Drip yourself dry with a cold one from the poolside bar while the kids find the trampoline and swings.
Above the gym, the cinema room comes with mood lighting, leather seating and choice of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and a full Sky package. If all that’s not enough, you can tinkle the baby grand while the kids dive into the toys, books and DVDs or escape to one of four reception rooms to sound out the Sonos.
Royal Oak Manor sits within Essex’s single-track country, where the birds babble in the branches within one-and-a-quarter acres of what was once part of the Earl of Warwick’s estate. Eat out in the sunshine on the terrace by the outside kitchen with meat on the barbecue from Steele’s butchers.
Between April and October, you’ll want to dive right in to the 32-foot outdoor pool, heated to 29 degrees, with its own pool house. When you’ve towelled off, there’s a cold one waiting in the poolside bar. Relax while the children track down the trampoline, climbing frame and swings.
You’ve plenty spaces to chill here, with four reception rooms distributed around a building of over 4000 square feet. Burning logs warm the atmosphere and Tudor timbering blends perfectly with modern white walls, giant sofas and hardwood flooring. Royal Oak Manor is stunningly elegant, but amazingly entertaining, too.
You can play hard here, but work hard, too. That might be in the gym with its free weights, treadmill and multigym, or in the study, where you can catch up on emails with a view out across the gardens. Or maybe you’ll just chill with a book and some sounds on the Sonos – the conservatory’s good for that.
Get competitive in the games room over eight-ball pool and the arcade games, or just plan a convivial evening on the leather chairs in the cinema room watching Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Sky. Magic up some Mozart on the baby grand, or let the kids dive into the toys, books and DVDs. Be as sociable or separate as the mood takes.
Cook in the modern kitchen beneath heavy beams. Pick from three ovens: an electric in the main kitchen, an Aga or another electric in the annex. Or tear off the apron and let our professional chef prepare gourmet meals while you take it easy by the pool. Eat in the dining room or out on the terrace with food from the outside kitchen.
Fill the fridge/freezer complete with ice machine with deli delicacies from the Meadow Hill Coffee Shop or Seedy Blenders in Dunmow, or order up your big shop from Tesco. Treat yourself to takeaways, with Indian from Bayleaf or Balti Spice, Italian from La Bonta, or the best of British from the Angel and Harp.
Head out for top-rated tapas at The Flitch House, for katsu curry or mushroom, spinach and Stilton pasta at The Swan Inn, or crayfish risotto or venison at The Green Man at Lindsell. Tuck into seared seabass or pearl barley risotto at The Spotted Dog or perfectly cooked fillet steaks, mussels, belly pork and chocolate waffle at Square One.
Enjoy the taste of Bangladesh with a regional flavour at Pride of Sylhet. Give your evening an Italian twist at La Bonta, savour Indian and Pakistani food at Balti Spice, or try ciabattas, burgers and grills from The Axe and Compasses. Or push the boat out with posh nosh from Michelin Bib Gourmand holder The Windmill Chatham Green.
Surrounded by parkland, down a single-track road, you’ll sleep tightly disturbed only by the breeze through the boughs and the birds in the branches. Royal Oak Manor sleeps 14 in seven bedrooms that include two in the adjoining annex.
On the first floor, bedroom one is a superking en-suite with 55” smart TV, while bedroom two comes with a double bed, 37” smart TV and a garden view. Bedroom three offers two single beds for children and a 32” smart TV, while bedroom four is a double with 49” smart TV.
There’s a garden view from bedroom five, which provides a superking oak four-poster bed, an en-suite and 49” smart TV. In the annex, bedrooms six and seven are both upstairs doubles.
No need for children to get homesick here: with space for 18 guests plus a four-legged friend, you can bring home with you. When you arrive, you’ll find the grown-up toys here work just as well for kids and there’s one-and-a-quarter acres of parkland complete with pond, trampoline and swings to explore as well.
The games room will see plenty of action: with a pool table and arcade game, it could offer plenty quiet time for grown-ups. And older kids will enjoy the gym, with its treadmill, free weights and multigym. Upstairs from here, the cinema room comes with leather seats, drinks holders and choice of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky.
But enough of the dry-side entertainment. From April to October, kids can get wet and wild in the 32-foot outdoor pool, heated to 29 degrees. Get changed in the pool house and join the adults afterwards at the pool bar for a mocktail or two. Stay outside for a poolside barbie late into the evening.