If it’s good enough for Royalty it’s good enough for us! Hartwell Housestands 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 its 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. 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 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 pan seared scallops served with a mango chutney, curry sauce and seaweed cracker 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 taste buds wanting more.
The mains consisted of pan seared fillet of monkfish served with hazelnut and lemon gnocchi, spinach and a hazelnut dressing– the monkfish melted in the mouth with the flavours of the gnocchi just divine. Roasted loin of venison was the other choice, served with King oyster mushrooms, artichoke, potato fondant and an elderberry and balsamic jus – the mushrooms and artichoke complemented the meaty venison perfectly creating an explosion of tastes on the palette.
There’s always room for dessert and the ginger and treacle slice with apples and clotted cream ice cream was a real treat, as was the praline mousse with a hazelnut meringue, the perfect tastes to finish a delicious meal.
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.
The sun came up on another day and we enjoyed a breakfast feast of croissants, pastries, fruits, yoghurts, jams and of course a full English accompanied with freshly brewed tea and coffee.
After breakfast we went for a wander round the grounds, marvelling 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 tranquillity and immerse yourself in the luxury of your surroundings – somewhere that is definitely fit for a King.
Prices start from £260 for B&B
including access to the spa. Hartwell House is open daily for lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and spa treatments.
For more information or to book, visit hartwell-house.com