Cliveden Country House Hotel
- Tuesday, 04 March 2014
Natalie Humphreys visits Cliveden House, the ultimate in Country House Hotels.
Cliveden House has been enjoying a new era as the owners of one the UK’s most iconic luxury country house hotels, Chewton Glen in Hampshire, have added the five star hotel to their portfolio. Cliveden, is a magnificent five star country house, surrounded by 376 acres of National Trust formal gardens and parkland, which has been dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure, power and politics for over 300 years.
Set in the heart of the Berkshire countryside with stunning views over the River Thames, Cliveden has throughout the centuries enjoyed a colourful history with a succession of wealthy owners keen to entertain in style and leave a lasting legacy.
Its story began in 1666 when the estate was acquired by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers. The Duke, a favourite of King Charles II, wanted to build a residence conveniently close to London where he could entertain his mistress, the Countess of Shrewsbury, and his friends in style.
(Above: Natalie enjoys a luxurious night in the Asquith Room)
The present house was actually built between 1849 and 1851 to the designs of Sir Charles Barry and is the third to be built on this site; the two previous buildings having been destroyed by fire.
Virtually every British monarch since George 1 has visited Cliveden, with the house serving as home to three dukes, three viscounts, an earl and Frederick, Prince of Wales, who made Cliveden his family home from 1737 until his death in 1751. In 1893, Cliveden was sold to American millionaire William Waldorf Astor for $1.2m and remained in the Astor family ownership until it was given to the National Trust in 1942.
Cliveden House became a five star hotel in the 1990s and the lease was acquired by the owners of Chewton Glen in February 2012. It is now enjoying extensive investment, allowing it to continue its great tradition as an elegant country house dedicated to the pursuit of entertainment and pleasure in the grand style.
An invitation to stay at Cliveden was seldom refused in Lady Astor's day - not least because the bedrooms were so luxuriously appointed and the staff so attentive. The standards she set over 100 years ago are still rigorously maintained. Each of Cliveden’s 38 bedrooms and suites are furnished in classical style with antique furniture and fine works of art.
Executive Head Chef, André Garrett opened his eponymous restaurant – André Garrett at Cliveden in November 2013 to fabulous reviews from restaurant critics and diners. The 68-seat dining room is located on the ground floor of the luxurious historic country house hotel overlooking the iconic parterre with its sweeping views over the Berkshire countryside.
(Above: The restaurant at Cliveden opened by Executive Head Chef Andre Garrett)
André, who has moved to Berkshire after nearly eight years as Head Chef at Galvin at Windows at the London Hilton Park Lane, and is thrilled by the new challenge. “Cliveden is inspirational,” he said. “The building and its history have truly given me a new confidence and creative energy to develop my cooking style.” At Cliveden, Andre’s Modern French menu will change with the seasons. Highlights from his opening menu include: Roast game consommé ‘Guy Savoy’ with Jerusalem artichoke cream, mini cep brioche and game canapés; Tartare of South Coast mackerel with smoked eel beignets; Roast Bresse pigeon with glazed salsify and pumpkin; Rice pudding soufflé with Agen prunes; and slow-cooked Cox’s apples with rosemary caramel, raisin purée and beurre noisette crumb.
The lunch and dinner menu is £65 for three courses, including coffee and bon bons from the Trolley, There is a weekly-changing Market Menu at lunch (Monday-Saturday) at £28 for three courses, a £50 three-course Sunday lunch menu, and an eight-course Tasting Menu, available daily for dinner only, at £95 (with matched wines at £75).
(Right: The French Dining Room)
The international wine list comprises approximately 800 bins, starting at £28 with a range of 20 by the glass (from £8). The Champagne trolley features six Champagnes, starting with NW Taittinger Brut (£15 glass). The Head Sommelier is Guillaume Gorichon, André Garrett at Cliveden is open daily for lunch (12.15 pm - 2.30 pm) and dinner (7.00 pm – 10.00 pm) looked after by Restaurant Manager Alastair Phillips and his team.
Interior Designer Martin Hulbert, who has extensive experience of heritage properties in the UK, undertook the sensitive redecoration of the restaurant, incorporating the original features with some new, more contemporary touches. The result is a less formal, lighter, gentle, very comfortable dining room. Walls are in duck egg blue, alcoves are lined in pale green silk and hung with mirrors, and the voluptuous curtains are mossy green, gold and tobacco silk framing the views of the gardens and beyond. There are also three magnificent, large chandeliers, two grand marble fireplaces (installed circa 1906 when the Astor family owned the house) at either end of the room, and sumptuous, well-spaced seating.
For a more informal dining experience, the Duke of Westminster’s personal stables have been converted into the Club Room with each stable adapted to provide a private dining area for six, and there are quirky features such as saddles for bar stools.
Guests can also relax in the Pavilion Spa contained within a walled garden, with indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, whirlpool spas, steam rooms and sauna and a range of spa treatments and therapies. And, of course, all Cliveden guests also benefit from access to acres upon acres of National Trust Grounds.
(left: The famous Pavilion Spa)
Scandal and Intrigue has always played a large party in the history of Cliveden and one of the most memorable events in recent times was the Profumo Affair, its latest reincarnation is in the form of a West End musical written by Lord Lloyd Webber. The musical ‘Stephen Ward’ charts the rise and fall from grace of the man at the centre of the Profumo scandal, Stephen Ward. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black, and directed by Richard Eyre, the musical central theme is Ward's involvement with the young and beautiful Christine Keeler and their chance meeting in a West End night club and their weekend escape to the Berkshire estate at Cliveden where Stephen Ward hosted a game-changing pool party, which led to one of the biggest political scandals and most famous trials of the 20th century.
In January 2013 Cliveden became a member of the prestigious Relais and Chateaux organization. Commenting of this latest chapter in Cliveden’s history, Andrew Stembridge, Managing Director of Chewton Glen and Cliveden said: “Cliveden is everything a Relais and Chateaux property should be and it is only going to become even more perfect as we continue to implement our ambitious and exciting refurbishment plans over the coming months. We have already embarked on our journey to put Cliveden back on the international hotel map. Cliveden is very conveniently positioned for guests flying in and out of Heathrow Airport and at only 45 minutes from central London.” concluded Andrew Stembridge.
For more information about staying at Cliveden House telephone: 01628 668561 or visit them at: www.clivedenhouse.co.uk