We still have royal wedding fever in the 7 Star Life office after Harry and Meghan’s nuptials resulted in the whole nation celebrating with glasses of bubbly, traditional afternoon teas and mock hen and stag parties that went on until ungodly hours of the morning.
For anyone wishing to carry on the royal theme, I recommend booking a stay at the understated, yet truly exquisite Hartwell House in leafy Buckinghamshire – part of the National Trust and a member of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux hotel group.
Set within acres of meticulously manicured grounds and steeped in royal history, Hartwell House recently celebrated its 30th anniversary since the beginning of its restoration earlier this year.
Being a self-confessed history nerd, before my stay I decided to do some research on this majestic looking hotel and discovered that in 1809, Hartwell House was leased to the exiled King Louis XVIII of France and his pleasure-seeking court. King Louis remained at Hartwell with his Queen until 1814, when the constitutional document, confirming his accession to the throne, was signed in the library by the king himself.
For guests with a penchant for royal history and extreme luxury, there are a number of royal rooms and suites in the hotel, offering the chance to escape from the hectic hubbub of the outside world and imagine what life was like for the royal inhabitants of this majestic home-away-from-home.
We stayed in the Queen’s bedroom – an extravagant, spacious suite complete with an antique four poster bed, sitting area composed of chic furnishings and and a large bathroom with a deep bathtub perfect for wallowing in with a good book – a Philippa Gregory novel especially.
To my delight, I noticed a portrait and a description written about the exiled Queen who once resided in the room I was calling my home for the night. Apparently, she became severely depressed and almost reclusive during her time at Hartwell House, which made me feel slightly guilty, as I was in historical hotel heaven and loving every indulgent moment.
When we managed pry ourselves from this elegant haven and made our way down to dinner, we found ourselves in a charming lounge room with high ceilings and fine art gracing the walls. After nursing a couple of cocktails made by the expert hotel mixologist, we made our way to the hotel’s award winning restaurant and feasted on a three course meal fit for royalty – and my fussy taste buds.
Starters included a chicken terrine topped with pickled mushrooms and chicken crackling – a pleasant first for me, and a creamy homemade burrata adorned with apple consommé, watercress puree, radish and walnuts.
My braised ox cheek main had been slow cooked for hours with garlic puree and tomato and was served with kale and cocotte potatoes. Being one of those smug “flexitarian” types, I was pleased to see that Hartwell House had a few tempting options for vegetarians.
The mushroom and nut ravioli with hazelnut puree, roasted parsnips and cheese veloute was anything but boring and gave me some much needed inspiration for future vegetarian recipe ideas. Veganism can wait, my love for cheese is too strong.
The next day, after an almost otherworldly breakfast in our suite, facing the windows overlooking the vast grounds and lake, we minced along to the Hartwell Spa for some truly regal pampering.
After swimming a few laps in the mosaic-lined indoor swimming pool and sweating out those pesky toxins in the sauna and steam room, I made my way to a peaceful treatment room where a therapist, with what I can only describe as gifted hands, massaged my weary limbs and tension-ridden back with an oil infused with lavender, leaving me in a blissful state of relaxation.
I left feeling like a queen and secretly yearning to be exiled forever in this breathtakingly beautiful house with the troublesome, yet fascinating royal past. Provided there is cheese of course.
For information on booking a luxury mini break at Hartwell House click here