A magnificent 18th century country house, Hartwell House Hotel is situated some 45 minutes by car from London Heathrow and only one hour by road or rail from central London. Formerly the home of the exiled King of France, Louis VIII, it has been the home to many eminent guests and is now one of the top country house hotels.
Standing in 90 acres of parkland with a lake spanned by a stone bridge, a ruined church and many 18th century follies and garden buildings, Hartwell House is the perfect venue to enjoy a superb lunch or dinner with friends, or linger overnight to fully enjoy this wonderful house.
Accommodation underlines the exquisite restoration of the house undertaken by Historic House Hotels which has an impressive set of awards ranging from Four Red Stars to RAC Gold Ribbon and is the Pride of Britain Hotel of the Year 2008. It is regularly used by those who want somewhere to overcome the stress of modern travel, or to stay prior to departure for some foreign shore.
The magnificent rooms are superbly furnished with antiques and hung with paintings. Some of the rooms and suites are in the house others have been added in Hartwell Court by a skilful conversion of the coach house and Old Rectory.
The 3 AA rosette Restaurant situated in the John Soane dining room continues the theme of regal dining, producing mainly English dishes of the highest quality using both local, British and international ingredients, cooked simply yet retaining clear flavours. The à la carte dinner menu may start with two flavours of duck liver, ballotine centred with rhubarb jelly and pan fried with rhubarb puree, and toast vanilla brioche, or perhaps layers of Isle of Lewis oak smoked salmon and seared Cornish sea scallops with shallot cream.
Following a blood orange sorbet served with champagne, the main course yields ample evidence of the skills of the kitchen brigade with pan-fried fillet of Oxfordshire beef with and braised ox cheek with carrot purée, kale, parmentier potatoes and braising juices. Fillets of red mullet with fondant potato, cauliflower puree spinach tartare and lemon jus makes this simple fish into a well flavoured and substantial dish.
A Madagascan vanilla cheesecake on a ginger biscuit with poached rhubarb vies for attention with a dark chocolate fondant.
Hartwell House is still one of the few places to maintain certain standards, a jacket (tie optional) is required at dinner, and children over the age of eight are welcome! While you are there why not stay in one of the superbly appointed bedrooms, some with four poster beds, and then relax in the Hartwell Spa with its indoor pool, whirlpool bath, steam and treatments rooms.
No self-respecting French monarch would be without his wine cellar, even in exile, and the owners of Hartwell House have seen to it that this area has not been neglected either, with some 400 wines tucked away in a perfect temperature. On reflection why not make that a long weekend?
More information, including further details on accommodation, is available on their Website