You don’t need to travel far from London to feel like you’ve left the city’s hustle and bustle behind you. With beautiful old county house hotels dotted around the outskirts of the British capital, all you need to do is work out what kind of getaway you’re looking for — heritage, sports, fine dining, pampering. Our round-up has all the bases covered.
You’ll find this Georgian manor house a short walk from the borders of Windsor Great Park, the former private hunting ground of nearby Windsor Castle — herds of deer roam there to this day. Accommodation at the hotel is all about understated luxury. The 70 rooms in the Mansion House and self-contained Stables and Cottages are decorated in calming, neutral tones, with plenty of striking modern details. In addition to the usual sporting and leisure pursuits you’d expect from a country estate of this caliber — tennis, croquet, spa and indoor pool — you can try your hand at polo on one of two professional fields on the property.
Formerly home to the Earls of Clarendon, The Grove sits at the heart of 300 acres of charming countryside to the north of London. There are 26 suites and rooms in the main house, which dates from the 18th century, plus another 191 guestrooms in the modern West Wing. Wander grounds dotted with striking contemporary art, bicycle along woodland trails, play a round on the championship golf course or just relax in the exquisite Sequoia spa, with its indoor and outdoor pools, fitness and exercise studios and decadent ESPA treatments. Fine dining comes courtesy of head chef Russell Bateman at Colette’s, while breakfasts, as well as lavish, buffet-style dinners, are served in The Glasshouse.
Stoke Park, with its 300 acres of parkland and 27-hole golf course, has appeared in a host of movies over the years, from Bridget Jones’s Diary to Goldfinger. When you visit the property that’s just 35 minutes from the capital, you’ll find 21 traditional rooms and suites in the 1795-built Mansion, and another 28 modern guestrooms in the Pavilion. Outside of being a Hollywood backdrop, it’s all about sports at Stoke Park, from tennis (its Smart Court System employs a high-tech, 3-D visualization system for instant shot analysis) and hot yoga to the championship golf course and swing studio. In the evening, adjourn to Humphry’s, a fine-dining establishment named after Humphry Repton, the man who designed the bridge that the restaurant overlooks.
Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons
Opened by acclaimed chef Raymond Blanc in 1984, Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, which is set on 30 acres of rolling countryside, is located just outside historic Oxford. The décor of the 32 rooms and suites is inspired by Blanc’s travels, so each offers a unique flavor, from Asian to classic French. Check out two-level The Dovecote for an extra special treat. Still, the real draw is the food at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, which is some of the most divine cuisine you’ll find in any UK hotel. You will experience classic French with the occasional twist, but expect almost all the vegetables and herbs to be harvested right from Le Manoir’s enormous gardens and orchards.
Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf
Yes, it’s technically in London, but this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s positioning in London’s finance hub means that during the weekends, when all the office workers have gone home, it’s actually remarkably peaceful here. This is also one of the few properties in the capital with access to tennis courts (at the Virgin Active health club next door). The place also boasts gorgeous views of the River Thames, which grants you the benefits of a getaway without the inconveniences of having to travel. Most of the 142 sleek, Philippe Starck-designed rooms have river views, as does the 65-foot indoor pool and the Treatment Suite, where individuals and couples can relax with services using Organic Pharmacy products.