Where is it?
Where is it?
Set in its own walled grounds in rural Buckinghamshire, just a mile outside Aylesbury off the A418. Address: Hartwell House Hotel, Oxford Road, near Aylesbury, Bucks HP17 8NL (tel: 01296 747444, web: www.hartwell-house.com).
What's it like?
Large, handsome Grade I listed Jacobean-cum-Georgian stately home in 90 acres of landscaped park. Adopted by Louis XVIII for five years during his exile, it has since had a varied history including being home to American soldiers in the Second World War. Historic House Hotels took it on and restored the main house and grounds. The 18th-century stables are now separate living areas which welcome dogs (great idea), and the Spa and Health Centre includes a swimming pool designed as an orangery in the style of Sir John Soane.
More evocative of an intimate, aristo retreat than a posh hotel, due largely to the immaculate restoration which has vast flickering log fires in the Rococo main reception rooms casting shadows on the walls and ceilings. Ideal for retreating couples on luxurious weekends.
Comely Bucks maidens in smart uniforms, discreet and relaxed in the restaurant. Prompt and friendly room service. In the spa and health centre a refreshingly down-to-earth helpfulness reigns.
Thirty-three bedrooms and 13 suites, all reasonably large and individually decorated, for the most part, in understated elegance Some have original antiques. From £135 for a single and £175 for a double to £400 for the beautiful Duc de Berri Suite and £600 for the Lee Suite. Weekend breaks available.
Definitely haute cuisine, even the room service food which arrived piping hot, with ceremonial flourish.
Voted 10th Best UK Leisure Hotel and fifth Best UK Spa Hotel by CondÃ© Nast this year. Good Hotel Guide Cesar Award 1997. Four red stars from the AA. Bill Clinton and the Emperor of Japan are recent (and impressed) visitors. Relais et ChÃ¢teaux affiliated.
During the weekend many London escapees, of which 50 per cent are repeat guests. During the week many Americans base themselves here for sightseeing.
Things to do?
Leisurely hotel pursuits include full-day or half-day spa and beauty treatments (inquire for Spa Weekend Breaks); well-equipped gym, handsome pool, sauna and all-weather tennis courts set in a porticoed pavilion. Waddesdon Manor, home of the Rothschild family, is around the corner as are Woburn Abbey and Blenheim Palace.