Chic Country - Deep in the heart of England
I was heading out to my first trip to the countryside of England, arriving at Hartwell House in Buckinghamshire which was about 40 minutes from Heathrow. After a long flight from Los Angeles, California, it was cheering to be greeted by their Chauffeur to whisk me off the “The Chateau.”
I had a dinner reservation at 7:00 and had plenty of time to walk in the vast gardens and parkland which extend to over 90 acres. I had a gorgeous “room with a view” in the main building, as there are 32 bedrooms there with 13 more in a converted stable block. Rap artist Jay-Z stayed in the Lee room, named after the ancestors of US General Robert E. Lee, who once owned the house.
The Hartwell House is a country house in the parish of Hartwell in Buckinghamshire, southern England & owned by the Ernest Cook Trust. It has been a Historic House Hotel since 1989, and in 2008 was leased to The National Trust. It is most famous as the home of exiled French king Louis XVIII in the early 19th century.
Alas, the property does have star quality, including Jay-Z, Bill Clinton, Kylie Minogue, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Robert De Niro. When Bill Clinton was President, he addressed the US nation from the hotel's library - the only time television cameras have been allowed in. Female celebrities tend to head towards the Queen's Room, once home to Marie Josephine, wife of the exiled King Louis XVIII of France, who set up his court here in 1809.
I just loved the romantic bridges and swans floating about, it felt like being surrounded in a fairytale, whimsical grounds and a truly exquisite property you want to come back to.
At the restaurant in the main house, modern British cuisine is served. Executive Head Chef, Daniel Richardson, prides himself on sourcing local and seasonal produce. For me, it was such a convenience to dress and head to the lovely sitting lounge to relax and enjoy COCKTAILS - a martini before dinner. There is no need to dwell upon where to eat when you can stroll right into a five-star dining experience as if you were walking into your grand dining room in your own home.
As I just love the Relais & Chateaux brand properties, they make it is so welcoming and comfortable, and I did not ever have a concern about dining alone, their full serving staff and impeccable cuisine fills your evening. You can even finish with a nightcap and fulfill a sweet tooth with a delicious dessert.
Upon walking through the grounds, the next day, I ran into the gate guard who was full of historical information, including that Hartwell House has had many other US Presidential guests including George H. W. Bush.
My next stop was Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey (about an hour away)!