Hartwell House – Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
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One of the great pleasures of visiting hotels is that they’re often very special buildings to which you’d never normally have access. One shining example is Hartwell House, a Grade I-listed stately home that was occupied from 1809 to 1814 by the exiled Louis XVIII. Inside, there are beautiful rooms with antique furniture and paintings. The Morning Room, for example, is a masterpiece of English design by Henry Keene, virtually unchanged since its completion in 1740, with a stunning rococo ceiling by Thomas Roberts of Oxford. There’s also an extraordinary Jacobean staircase, lined with statues of the knights of Europe, leading from the Great Hall – the king’s wife, Marie Joséphine of Savoie, had them removed because their candlelit shadows frightened her. If you think all this grandeur and history means pomp and ceremony, worry not. As with fellow National Trust Historic House Hotels, Bodysgallen Hall (see page 000) and Middlethorpe Hall (see page 000), the hospitality is natural and easy-going, the bedrooms as comfortable as they are grand and the food as delicious as you would expect. And the hotel’s spa is a classically-themed delight.
Doubles from £250
+44 (0)1296 747444; hartwell-house.com