Just one hour away from the hustle and bustle of Central London lies Hartwell House, a magnificent, Grade I country house hotel surrounded by vast acres of luscious green Grade II* park and garden land in the Vale of Aylesbury. It was the perfect meeting place for myself and an old friend, refined, elegant and with a relaxing spa.
On arrival at the hotel gate, I was greeted by a lovely chap called David, who instantly made me smile and directed me to the front of the property where my bags were checked in and I waited for my friend to arrive.
Hartwell House stands in over 90 acres of gardens and parkland and in 2008 it became the property of the National Trust. The core of Hartwell House was built in the 17th century for the Hampden family and it features both Georgian and Jacobean features. Following the Hampden family, a string of prolific previous owners moved into the house over the years. In the 1960s, Hartwell House became a girls’ finishing school. It is one of three country properties that were lovingly saved by Richard Broyd, who was to bring them back to life as luxurious country house hotels – the sister hotels are Boddysgallen in Wales and Middlethorpe Hall in Yorkshire. In 2008, Broyd donated the Historic House Hotels group to the National Trust, who now continue to run them, with profits going towards the conservation’s ongoing work.
Having arrived early to make the most of a child-free stay, our room wasn’t quite ready. Not wanting to waste a minute we made our way to the spa where we were soon in our robes and lounging by the pool. The spa is set away from the main house and its facilities include a pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. There is also a small restaurant where we enjoyed a spot of lunch and a glass of wine before retreating back to our loungers for an afternoon snooze.
Late afternoon, after enjoying the jacuzzi we made our way back to the main house to check into our room. Hartwell House boasts forty-six individually designed rooms, each studded with its own special history and charm. When we entered the hotel, the great hall triggered an exuberant gasp. I looked up to see the beautiful, intricate ceiling that is impeccably maintained and worthy of a royal household. The morning room was next to capture my heart, closely followed by the dark wooden panelled library, extensive dining room and a particularly unique and characterful staircase adorned with eye-catching, hand-carved Jacobean figures. Impressive works of art line the walls and carefully curated antiques make the house feel like a home. Our room was bright and spacious, filled with charming antiques, floral patterns and Georgian references.
Before dinner, we enjoyed a cocktail at the bar, before we were seated in The Dining Room for a three-course dinner. The classic British and European menu showcases local produce including from the hotel’s very own kitchen garden. The food was stunning and the service was with fault. This is traditional dining at its best.
After a very restful night in the most comfortable of beds, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and a full body massage at the spa. The hotel is full of history and I felt very honoured to have been able to have spent the night in such a beautiful house.