The scandal of the 60s was the affair between cabinet minister John Profumo and showgirl Christine Keeler – who met at one of the legendary Cliveden house parties. These days, the stately pile/five-star hotel has less of the scandal about it and more of the sumptuous, yet there’s still an old world, respectable glamour to the place.
Would-be Marie Antoinettes will love the elaborate, palatial bedrooms. Each is named after a past guest, and standouts include the Parterre Deluxe Suites (with their dazzling décor, luxurious sitting rooms and dressing rooms), Henry James (with its in-the-bath countryside views), and the especially decorative Sutherland room. The theme of luxe-y splendour is carried over into the bathrooms, which have 'shut-in romantic weekend away' written all over them.
But if all that grandeur sounds a bit too formal, you can always rent one of the secluded (and more cosy) National Trust river cottages on the grounds, where Profumo and Keeler came to hide out. Here, the only interruptions you'll get from the outside world are from the occasional boat cruising down the Thames or the ducks that arrive on the doorstep every morning looking for breakfast. It feels a million miles from the Cliveden Set, but you can always pop up the hill for afternoon tea if you start to suffer withdrawal symptoms.
On the food front, Waldo’s Restaurant (which is headed up by multi-Michelin star holding Executive Chef, Carlos Martinez) is on hand for some serious gastronomic treats. And if that’s not enough, Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck (voted best restaurant in the UK), is just a 10-minute limousine drive away, at Bray.
- The possibility that you are sleeping in a room once occupied by someone fabulous – think Edith Wharton, Rudyard Kipling
- Waldo’s destination restaurant
- The outdoor pool in high summer – waiter service equals cocktails in style
- You can take a boat down the Thames
- Some may find the grandiose décor overwhelming
Need to Know: Cliveden
Number of rooms: 38 plus the separate three-bedroom cottage.
Check-in/check-out times: 3pm and 11am
Swimming pool: Yes
Spa: Yes, including indoor and outdoor pools, Canadian hot tubs, whirlpool spas, steam and sauna rooms plus plenty of beauty and holistic treatments.
Dogs welcome: Yes
Eating and drinking: Fine dining in the grand panelled Waldo’s Restaurant room, or less formal dining – and views of the garden – in the Terrace Dining Room. The Club Room serves breakfast plus relaxed, gastro-pub-style lunch and dinner and you can enjoy light lunches and waiter service by the pool.
Location: Set within 250 acres of National Trust woodland, you might not want to leave the grounds of The Cliveden, but the close proximity of Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck in Bray may tempt you away for an afternoon or evening.
Getting there: Within easy reach of central London driving via the M40, exiting at Junction two, or by rail, from London Paddington to Burnham. There is a helipad on the estate if you’re travelling in high-style.