Why Horwood House in Buckinghamshire is a perfect country-chic break
These manicured hotel grounds are perfect for spring, finds Libby Brodie
THE WEEKEND: Imposingly sat in the rolling green of Buckinghamshire’s countryside, Horwood House is a Grade II listed manor which has just undergone an extensive £6-million, 18-month long facelift. There is plenty to discover nearby and in half an hour you can be facing down a Rhino at Woburn Safari Park or maxing out your credit card in Bicester Village. For those of a patriotically historical persuasion, Bletchley Park, where topsecret Allied codebreakers helped win World War Two, is only 15 minutes’ away but with its on-site spa and spacious restaurant you may not be tempted to leave Horwood. Clearly popular with the commuter crowd, there is a conference centre feel to parts of the building. Harried looking people in suits can seem an odd juxtaposition when you are languidly leaving the spa in your robe, but they seem to disappear when evening falls. Or maybe they are at the bar, which even on a wet Monday evening was buzzing.
THE STAY: For that English period drama feel, book one of the three country-chic suites on the top floor of the 110-year old Manor House itself. Each have their own dining and living rooms, as well as enormous super-king beds and art deco bathrooms with double sinks and walk-inrain showers. The views across the grounds are superb, be you overlooking the longtree-lined driveway, the sculpted garden and lilypond or the surrounding fields. My only gripe would be the large smart TVs, which had not been linked to the internet and so were not actually “smart”. Bah, humbug! Anyhow, onwards, and a range of other bedrooms have been added, offering executive suites with working spaces and terraces. All guests have access to the spa with its swimming pool, sauna, steam room and gym as well as the manicured grounds, central to the home’s history which once employed 16 gardeners and was the birthplace of TV gardener Percy Thrower. Take a stroll along their nature trail or hike across their 38-acre grounds.
THE FOOD: Harry’s Bar & Kitchen is a lofty, relatively informal restaurant named after the house’s Head Gardener Harry Thrower. There are excellent vegetarian and vegan dishes available, which makes a nice change from the one mushroom risotto you can sometimes find. Ember cooked leeks and coal roasted beetroots abound, but the meat is still the star, beginning with the Chef’s recommendation of the charcuterie board as an ode to Frederick Denny, whose success in the bacon trade led to him building Horwood House to begin with. All the meat is sourced locally from The Buckingham Butchers and the steaks, which were perfectly grilled, are aged for 30 days in a bespoke Himalayan Salt Chamber while still on the bone. The wine list is fairly generous too. I’d recommending skipping breakfast and filling up on afternoon tea at the spa instead. A tower of tiny sandwiches, sausage rolls, fluffy scones with jam and clotted cream and dainty cakes arrived and I took to a sleep pod to digest afterwards.
Visit Horwood House yourself
Rooms start from £77 per night, with the Manor House Suites from £427. Full bodymassage is £80; horwoodhouse.co.uk
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