Cliveden House Hotel – Berkshire, UK

You know that old dinner party question…. “If I were to go to any hotel in the country to immerse myself in history/culture/beauty and unrivalled service… where would I go?”

No? Well lucky for you, you will never have to ask … why? Because I have your answer, and the answer is without hesitation, Cliveden House. All 375 exquisite Acres of it.

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What surpasses its beauty is the rich history that created it and how they have managed (somehow astoundingly) to keep the traditional and original features in a place that frankly, feels as if you have been allowed to stay for the night in 1666…. In the Duke of Buckinghams house… Because you have.

Say what you will about modern buildings with all white walls, minimalistic feng shui and grafitti paintings made solely from using pygmy hedgehog spines (Oui. This exists) …. but sometimes, I WANT HISTORY! I want creaky stairs and tapestries from 1887. I want suits of armour and a table that has been sat at by the 1st Earl of Orkney. I want to know that the very couch that I have just popped my Ipad and Fedora hat on was once reclined on by Henry Ford. I want these things and here…. I am not seen as unreasonable for expecting them.

It is like being a kid in a museum where they let you touch everything…


Cliveden House

The Grounds are owned and maintained by the National Trust, and on most days open to the droves of people who come to see the the gardens and other aspects of the 375 acres. Popular attractions include the famous parterre, season long floral displays, expertly sculpted topiary and the world renowned sculpture collection.

But… When the tours finish and the grounds are closed to the public, you feel as if you’ve been given a private, all access special key to the estate which is pretty incredible to see as a hotel guest.  In national trust or conservation terms, Its like the V.VIP area within the VIP area.


When you are there (I assume you’re convinced and packed already?) I would really recommend taking a minute to locate and just stand in the French dining Room. A little history for you here: “On a visit to Paris in 1897 William Waldorf Astor was shown the intricate gilded panelling in Madame de Pompadour’s 18th century dining room at the Château d’Asnières. Realising the proportions exactly matched those of the dining room at Cliveden he bought the paneling, table and chairs, then had the entire room reconstructed in his home”.

No big deal, but the usual table that you will see before you has seated Madame de Pompadour, Queen Victoria, Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Charlie Chaplin, John Lennon (I dont really need to keep going, I am just putting you in good company here)… Also, to save you some time, virtually every British Monarch since George I.

A specific mention is necessary of Michael the Heritage Concierge, who knew quite literally everything there was to know about the estate and gave us a personal walk through the house and surrounds… This is no exaggeration, I mean EVERYTHING.


The Rooms & Suites:

Each room is named after a prominent guest or figure from Cliveden’s past, and furnished accordingly…

The rooms range from “Churchill to Chaplin, to Orkney and Sutherland to the Prince of Wales”. Each is decorated differently and so provides a totally unique experience. They are all furnished with unique decor, grand/four poster beds, large paintings and incredibly luxurious furnishings. It means that you can return without having exactly the same experience… I am sold.

I stayed in Spencer, (Named after famed artist Sir Stanley Spencer) which along with all of the other suites comes with an entire history of the room and its naming. In the west wing, it has views of Grand Drive and front of the House. Its scheme is pale blues, greys and whites, and remaining in the traditional style of its namesake, has a number of attention demanding paintings. As a perfect addition, it has a huge living room with tonnes of natural light. Frankly, had I not had a check out time, I could have set up camp in there with their Cliveden shortbread for another day or two at least.

As a little convenient hop between the centuries, almost everything can be done/ordered/connected/booked through your individual individual guest ipads. From spa bookings, to room service, to excursions.





Do you like your spas with water slides, strobe lighting and interchangeable daily DJs? Then go somewhere else…. You will not find it here.

This spa is elegant. Its 1700s sculpture elegant. It is famous political Profumo Affair scandal in the 1960s elegant.

Laying in the spa pavilion, you feel like you’re in a secret garden of historic British opulence.  Like it has been plucked out of a textbook of british empire luxury.

They are actually doing an entire renovation of the spa, which is ambitiously expected by 2017.  I can assure you that I will be there with robe in hand for when it is.


Andre Garrat. A career including 3 Michelin-starred Chez Nico, Bistrot Bruno, 3 Michelin-starred Guy Savoy in Paris, his Head Chef position at Orrery (where he retained its Michelin star and obtained a fourth rosette in the AA Guide). Oh and Just prior to Cliveden, he was Head Chef at Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows until 2013 where he began at Cliveden. Impressed? Wait for the food….

Cliveden House

My guest opted for the Salad of Provence Tomatoes with Innes goats curd, olive crumb, basil granita. The olive crumb was absolutely fab… but lets be serious here, they had both scallops and foie gras on the menu and so tomatoes were always going to lose with me in place of the Roast Orkney Scallops  or Terre et Mer to be exact. Served with braised chicken wings, girolles, summer vegetables. What is not to love? Nothing unless you have a questionable palette.

For the main course, I went for the bold and desperately under appreciated Grilled Herdwick Mutton Cutlet  with shoulder Bolognese, ruby chard, white onions, smoked aubergine. This was delicious with a real special mention for the mutton in question. It was a close call between this and the Roast Fillet of Turbot (Grenobloise) with cockles, braised celery hearts, chicory condiment, brioche butter. As predicted, Meat won over and I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.

My guest had the Semolina Gnocchi with white asparagus, charred leeks, new potatoes and truffle crumb. Now, ordinarily I would stear clear of most things with the word Semolina, as in my mind it has the same taste as an A4 Manilla envelope…. Until today that is. The Gnocchi was perfectly cooked and the flavour of the reduced pea sauce and truffle crumb was sensational. If only all semolina gnocchi tasted this good.

Dessert. Now I am a girl who is happy to admit when I am defeated by a dish and in the case of the outstanding Variations of Chocolate & Mint, (a chocolate lovers graceland in food form) … it came out on top. This is ganache, aero, crumble and Moroccan mint ice cream. Had I not already devoured most of the Creme Brûlée, I feel I could have given it a bit more of a challenge. (No judgement please)

Cliveden House

The next morning, after an incredibly comfortable sleep between meals, Breakfast came in the form of the Lord Astor (A full English Breakfast. Alternatively, you could opt for the Lady Astor (Smashed avocado and eggs). Otherwise, there is a full continental breakfast with a whole host of different jams, marmalades, compotes and preserves… but who in their right mind skips bacon?

A Must:

Now. .. a moment of your attention for what turned out to be more than a little bit special and something that you literally need to do if you go to Cliveden. The Champagne river cruise…. In our case.. on Suzy Ann.

I am no stranger to a boat jaunt or a punt down stream… but…This is no flimsy old row boat with splinter ridden oars, questionable holes and a wet seat… No sir. This 114 year old beauty went to Dunkirk and back and truthfully, looks as youthful as any mahogany airport boat in Venice.

Frankly, she has recently played host to Princes William and Harry and if its good enough for them, its probably safe for you to assume that its not too shabby.


Cliveden House

They really go out of their way to prepare one off, bespoke settings /dinners /experiences for their guests.

They also cater riverside picnics for an extra special occasions, or as Queen Elizabeth calls it when she stays there, Wednesday…


All in all, what you get from Cliveden is not merely impeccable service, beautiful grounds, elegant food, exquisite design and a feel of absolute luxury….. You also get to sit in the midst of actual tangible history.

Cliveden House & Pavilion Spa: Taplow, Berkshire, England, SL6 0JF