As much as I like packing my bags and galavanting across the globe in search of blissfuly warm climes and exotic food, my heart will always lie within the emerald green pastures of England – home to some of the finest hotels in the world.
Just over half an hour’s drive from London in leafy Buckinghamshire, resides one of my favourite British country havens, Stoke Park – a luxurious five star hotel, country club and spa steeped in glorious British history.
Enter through 300 sweeping acres of grounds and you will find yourself in awe of this majestic building, which boasts a rich history dating as far back as 1066. It had been owned and visited by numerous famous historical figures before being renovated into a luxury hotel over 100 years ago by ‘Nick ‘Pa’ Lane Jackson.’ – a notable property developer with a fondness of unashamed splendour.
The breathtakingly fabulous lobby and lounge areas of the hotel are adorned with 18th century paintings and regal furnishings from a bygone era. Whilst wandering through such stately rooms and passageways it’s easy to understand why many major films have been filmed here, including James Bond’s Goldfinger and Tomorrow Never Dies, Layer Cake and Bridget Jones’s Diary. Who could forget those saucy mini break scenes with the naughty Daniel Clever?
The hotel’s 49 bedrooms and suites are effortlessly chic, extremely spacious and will take your breath away from the moment you open the wooden door with your heavy metal key – no flimsy plastic cards here, oh no.
Our suite featured a giant mahogany bed, flat screen TV bearing a message welcoming us by our names, real roaring log fire and a massive marble bathroom complete with shower and wallow-worthy bathtub. The icing on the luxury accommodation cake for me by far had to be the lengthly balcony with a view so romantic it will etch itself into your mind forever – or your Instagram account at least.
After devouring our welcome plate of strawberries coated in dark chocolate with a cheeky glass or two of Champagne, we made our way down to the bar area where we innocently sat nursing a couple of pre-dinner cocktails whilst admiring our opulent surroundings.
By the time we were seated in Humphry’s – Stoke Park’s 3 AA rosette restaurant, we felt as though all our Christmases had come at once. If Christmas came with stately vases of colourful spring blooms, and the soothing absence of obligatory family brawls over The Queen’s Speech.
The grand floor-to-ceiling windows, impeccable service and exquisite artwork helped create a welcome sense of escapism from the mundanity of everyday life, yet it was the food which made the whole experience quite so exquisite.
Starters were a merry affair – and that’s nothing to do with the number of alcoholic beverages we were generously plied with. We made our way though plump pan fried scallops adorned with picked fennel, toasted hazelnut and apple and a buttery five game terrine – perfectly complemented by tangy orange segments and crisp melba toast.
Mains included a pan roasted sea bass nestled happily on a plate bearing delicate king prawn dumplings infused with lemongrass, and beef medallions so tender the accompanying ‘jus’ was not even required. Although I was glad it was there as it was rather splendid in nature.
They had me at medallions…
Puddings were shamelessly served in our suite and consumed voraciously like depraved sugar addicts by the amber glow of the cracking fire. I recommend the Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Caramelised Oranges and the Coconut Panna Cotta – a melt in the mouth exotic dream that appeared somewhat chastely next to a naughty blob of mango sorbet.
The next day, freshly rested after a lengthly slumber in the regal bed, we made our way to the famed Stoke Park Spa. Admittedly, this took place after taking a ridiculous number of photos of the sunning views from the balcony – and our perfect full English breakfast platters of course.
Stoke Park’s spa features a large indoor pool, Italian marble steam rooms, relaxation room and a plethora of skin-smoothing (and soul-soothing) beauty treatments, but our favourite aspect of the spa by far had to be the newly opened outdoor jacuzzi, surrounded by lush green grounds and plush sun loungers.
When we visited this blissful place, it was an unusually sunny English day and we most scandalously outstayed our welcome in this bubbling pool of warmth, only emerging after an hour like a couple of steaming prunes.
Stoke Park is an iconic part of British history, an elegant country haven, a place where romances flourish and bonds between loved ones deepen.
Take your favourite person and get ready to create your very own love film…
Stoke Park, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, SL2 4PG