Christmas is almost upon us, and I don’t feel at all ready. I’ve been away, then busy at work and not really had that much time to prepare like I normally do. We had snow for the first time this winter a few days ago, but for now, I’m still catching up on some of my autumn trips in England – and it’s a super special one today.
So to Cliveden House we go. The New York Times has described this house as ‘echoing a real life Downton Abbey’ and it didn’t disappoint. Wow. Just Wow.
Cliveden House is located just to the west of London, close to Windsor. Like any good stately home it’s in the middle of nowhere, so you need a car to access it directly – however, you could get a train from London to Slough, Maidenhead or Windsor and get a taxi to drop you at the hotel (it’s about 15 minutes from each).
I think the joy of visiting Cliveden is actually not leaving the grounds, but if you do want to leave (you crazy lunatic) and explore the local area then you will need a car. Within driving distance are:
- Windsor – to visit the castle
- Oxford – for the ancient university city
- London – for a day in the capital
- The Chiltern Hills – for wonderful walks
As I drove up the driveway, the house came in to view. Wow, I said out loud as I pulled in to the carpark. A butler came out and asked for my car keys because apparently cars have to be parked in colour order and reversed in to spaces only (me in my bright blue car pulling front in was not a good look for them).
Keys with the butler, my suitcases were whisked away from me without noticing as I entered reception. Wow, I said again. A huge, wood panel lined room steeped in history greeted me. At the back, a huge portrait of Nancy Astor – one of the most famous residents – reminded me of the scandals here.
Back in the 1960s, Christine Keeler met Profumo here, leading to the now infamous Profumo Affair which collapsed the government of the time. Also here, Nancy Astor (married to Waldorf Astor – of Waldorf Astoria fame of course) spent many weekends with Winston Churchill, reportedly a very love/hate relationship.
I was whisked to my room – small, but perfectly appointed. With beautiful finishing touches and a glorious hot tub, it was the perfect spot to switch off for the weekend. I ran myself a bath straight away and relaxed for an hour reading my book. It was wonderful.
After heading to the bar for dinner and a cocktail, I got in to the hot tub for 30 minutes before collapsing in to one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. Absolute bliss. These rooms feel like the sort of rooms that are a ‘home from home’ – they’re not the kind of places you use to just sleep, they themselves are destinations and enjoying the room is part of the joy of staying here.
Amenities & Experiences
There are three options for food at Cliveden. The first is the formal restaurant for full a la Carte menu (and is also where breakfast is served). There is then the informal bar which runs a smaller menu. And finally there is the Astor Bar & Grill, which offers a really great selection of formal and informal plates. All the food I ate was absolutely delicious, but it is pricy.
One of Cliveden’s most prized features is its spa. I booked in for 60 minute hot oil massage and I have to be honest – the setting was amazing and beautiful, but the treatment itself was poor. I couldn’t really feel anything and despite saying I wanted hard pressure, I basically got rubbed gently for 60 minutes and was very overcharged for it (£170!!!!). I may have just got a not very good therapist, but I wouldn’t recommend spending on treatments. However the spa’s outdoor heated pool, hot tubs, relaxation lounge and other area to sit and relax are all absolutely lovely.
The hotel offers a ‘butler tour’ every day at 16:15 for 45 minutes. It was cool to explore some of the house, and see how it worked in its hey-day. Seeing the old photos everywhere was also special, and hearing the history told in an engaging was also a good way to take it all in.
Cliveden is blessed with some of the most beautiful grounds. There are walks everywhere and on the first morning of my stay, I took a walk round the woodland and down to the River Thames which runs alongside the house. Enjoying all the autumn colours and fresh air was a true delight.
I’d planned a much longer walk but I was actually really not very well when I visited and just walking the grounds took the energy out of me – so instead I went back to my hot tub, ordered some food, read my book and got an early night. I slept soundly – what an amazing place to stay!
So what do you think of Cliveden? I absolutely loved my relaxing weekend stay there and had the best time switching off. Hope you enjoyed the visit – stay safe and happy travelling!