If it’s good enough for Royalty then it’s good enough for us! Hartwell House stands within 90 acres of beautiful parkland in the Vale of Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire. Owned by the National Trust and managed by Historic House Hotels this country retreat is steeped in history that stretches back to almost a thousand years and was once home to the exiled Louis XVIII of France.
As you make your way down the sweeping driveway you can almost hear the horse drawn carriages of days gone by and dream you are Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice being greeted by the doorman as your carriage draws to a halt in front of the large imposing front door!
Walking through the above-mentioned door into The Great Hall it is evident that the building’s architecture is as impressive as its history. Full of original Jacobean and Georgian features, with it’s ornate stone fireplace, intricately carved ceilings and gold framed portraits, this was just one of many rooms that took our breath away.
A staircase lined with extraordinary carved figures leads us up to our room, a Royal Room. Tastefully decorated in traditional country house style with antique furniture, fine art and an amazing tapestry adorning the wall above the bed, it is easy to see how you can slip back into being ‘Elizabeth’ waiting for Mr. Darcy to call on you!
A visit to Hartwell House wouldn’t be complete without enjoying the pleasures of the spa, which is situated just 100 yards from the main house. Whether you want to lie peacefully around the Grecian inspired pool, or try out the gym, steam room, sauna or hot tub it is entirely your choice, I opted for the lounging round the pool (it’s hard work waiting for Mr. Darcy to arrive) until it was time to be pampered just a little more with ‘The Ultimate Aromatherapy Experience’ a treatment that helps to release tension held in every part of the body, leaving you feeling deeply relaxed and re-charged, this is a luxurious treatment that certainly did what it said on the tin and left me floating along in a bubble of calm.
Dinner was served in the Soane dining room, which is styled after a room at 11 Downing Street as a tribute to John Soane, yet another example of history and elegance combined. The menu was full of tempting dishes but after much deliberation we opted for the Brixham crab with Avruga caviar, avocado and red pepper sorbet and the duck liver parfait with flavours of apples and toasted brioche – both dishes were impeccably presented and were infused with flavours and textures that had our tastebuds wanting more.
The mains consisted of Aylesbury duckling served with salt-baked celeriac and confit potato on a bed of spinach – the duck was tender and melted in the mouth and the duckling jus was just divine. Venison loin and braised shoulder was the other choice and was served with parsnip puree, red cabbage, and duchess potato – the parsnip puree and red cabbage complemented the meaty venison perfectly creating an explosion of tastes on the palette.
There’s always room for dessert and the strawberries, vanilla cream, meringue and strawberry sorbet was heavenly as was the Mango meringue soufflé
We retired to the Drawing Room for our coffee before climbing the Grand staircase to bed, getting held up along the way as we noticed yet another detail on one of the carvings.
After breakfast we went for a wander round the grounds, marveling at how magnificently grand the house looked from a distance.
Hartwell House makes you feel like Royalty. It’s a place where you can enjoy some peace and tranquility and immerse yourself in the luxury of your surroundings – somewhere that is definitely fit for a King.
An overnight stay in January 2017 in a Royal Room starts from £400 per room including dinner, bed and breakfast. An overnight stay in January 2017 in a Four Poster Room starts from £650 per room including dinner, bed and breakfast.