In Cliveden we trust

Mimi ON Oct 06, 2009 AT 10:59 am

Cliveden House Hotel

Cliveden House Hotel

By Tamara

The fact that nobody’s ever opened my car door for me probably says more about my boyfriend than it does about Cliveden House Hotel, but as the hotel’s liveried doormen approached, I realised this was definitely something I could get used to.

Cliveden, located in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, certainly isn’t your average hotel. To start with, the place has its own helipad and fleet of chauffer driven cars, which isn’t something offered by your average Travelodge. The National Trust property – all 376 acres of it- also features heavily in films – it became Lady Penelope’s mansion in The Thunderbirds and also stood in for Buckingham Palace in the Beatles “Help!” film.

Enjoy an evening meal at Cliveden

Enjoy an evening meal at Cliveden

Although I loved the beautiful gardens, away from the manicured lawns – all 376 acres of them – there’s plenty to satisfy those who prefer their horticulture “au natrel”, with winding trails leading down to the Thames. For the more adventurous, boat trips on the hotel’s own fleet of vintages launches be arranged, and there’s also a gym, squash and tennis courts, outdoor and indoor swimming pools and spa. Further afield, Windsor is only a short drive away and there’s also plenty of country pubs a short walk from the hotel.

The sheer size of the place means it’s easy to lose your bearings. (During dinner, on a trip to the toilet I couldn’t resist a peek behind a door marked “private” – call it investigative journalism – and was surprised to find that, instead of leading into some dusty room, it opened directly out onto the gardens.) The huge, vaulted entrance hall was our favourite part – suits of armour line the walls and while I don’t know my Pollock from my Picasso, it’s obvious that any one of the works of art dotting the walls probably costs more than my flat. While the dark tapestries and “objects d’art” means fans of stark, white minimalism will be disappointed, it’s impossible not to be seduced by the rustic grandeur seeping from every antique oak panel.

Enjoy a weekend away at Cliveden

Enjoy a weekend away at Cliveden

 Our room, TE Lawrence – the rooms are named after figures from Cliveden’s past – was huge. The bathroom was equally impressive, with an enormous bathtub and “his and hers” sinks. Although filled with antiques, rooms also feature TVs, DVD players and sound systems. As a caffeine addict, I missed the tea and coffee facilities, but there’s plentiful supplies of complimentary bottled water and hot drinks can be ordered from reception.

Walking around a place of this size means you quickly work up an appetite, so we headed to dinner with eager anticipation.  After amuse-bouches of tomato gaspachio, we dined on a starter of fantastically fresh scallops, followed by juicy steaks. My boyfriend finished with vanilla ice cream (he loved the addition of a fresh vanilla pod) and I opted for the cheese board, which proved the perfect way to finish a fantastic meal.

We spent the evening relaxing in our room, watching trashy TV from our huge-throne like chairs – I fell asleep in mine – before climbing into our huge, antique bed. The next morning we had breakfast delivered to our room. The night before a “breakfast card” had been pushed under our door, inviting us to make our selection by ticking which items we wanted – I’m ashamed to say not one box remained unticked. My boyfriend loved the black pudding, while the mushrooms definitely rated as some of the best I’d ever sampled.

One thing I loved about Cliveden is that, unlike many other luxury hotels, the atmosphere is super-attentive rather than stuffy. I can honestly say I enjoyed my stay at Cliveden more than many weekend breaks abroad and but still spent considerably less.

Bed and breakfast deals at the Cliveden House Hotel start from £195.00. Visit www.clivedenhouse.co.uk for more information.

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