If watching The Crown has made you want to live like a royal, if only for a day, then you have to book a stay at Hartwell House, part of the Historic House Hotels group, nestled within over 90 acres of gardens and parkland in Buckinghamshire.
First mentioned in the Domesday Book almost a thousand years ago, this hotel has a rich and fascinating royal history. In the early 19th century the stately home served as a royal residence when Louis XVIII, the exiled king of France, hid out there with his family for five years during the French Revolution. He was joined by his queen, Marie-Josephine de Savoie and his niece, Duchesse D'Angoulême, the daughter of his brother Louis XVI and sister-in-law Marie Antoinette, along with over one hundred courtiers. Louis stayed there until 1814, when Napoleon was defeated and he signed papers of accession to become king.
Hartwell House has a rich and fascinating history
This fascinating history is evident as soon as you step through the doors of this grand and opulent stately home. While it has since served as an Army billet during the Second World War and even a girls' finishing school, the property has been restored to its original grandeur, with artwork and books on display that date back over 400 years.
Guests are made to feel just as important as the royals once did, with staff on hand to cater for your every request, whether it's a pot of tea delivered to your room or sharing their expertise on the house and its beautiful grounds. The gardens themselves are open to guests of the hotel, spa, or its restaurants, and would be the perfect place for scenic strolls, summer picnics and immersing yourself in history.
We stayed in a room once lived in by the Duchesse D'Angoulême
There are 17 guestrooms within the main house, 11 royal rooms plus two royal suites. We stayed in the room where the Duchesse D'Angoulême lived during the French royals' time at Hartwell House, a magnificent space with a king size four poster bed, high ceilings and breathtaking views over the gardens. I couldn't help but feel just a little regal as I explored the incredibly spacious and beautifully decorated room, before making our way to the Hartwell Spa for an afternoon of pampering and relaxation.
The spa is located in a former orangery and houses a large swimming pool with Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, along with a fitness centre and numerous treatment rooms. I couldn't resist indulging in the BIOEFFECT Cellular Hydration Facial, a 55 minute treatment that is designed to restore the skin's suppleness and firmness, leaving me with a healthy glow that lasted all day.
The spa has a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and treatment rooms
After a few hours of ultimate relaxation it was time to retreat to our room and get ready for our evening meal, which was hosted in the restaurant on the ground floor of the main house. We took the chance to have a drink and peruse the menu in the library - the room where Louis XVII signed his accession papers and the Royal Meteorological Society was founded - before taking our seats for dinner.
On our midweek visit the restaurant was quiet, so it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves and gave us a taste of what it was once like to be one of the royals living in the house. As you would expect, service was second to none, with attentive waiting staff and even better food. We each started with smoked salmon, which was served with a selection of fresh bread, before tucking into our mains - sea bass for me and steak for my partner - both of which were so delicious our plates were soon cleared. And although we were already full the dessert menu was too tempting to resist, with crème brulee and panna cotta rounding off our meals to perfection.
The restaurant at Hartwell House
After our meal we retired to our room, where the incredibly comfortable four poster bed combined with the quietness of the country estate offered us a peaceful night's sleep and welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. So much so, we're already plotting our return...
B&B priced from £230 per night based on two sharing. For more information and to book your stay visit hartwell-house.com.