We were very fortunate to have been invited to stay at Hartwell Houserecently. The history of this wonderful building is illustrious to say the least. Some former inhabitance include the French ExileKing Louis XVIII, US PresidentBill Clintonand Rap Superstar Jay Z. King Louis of France signed the treaty to regain the French throne in the library of Hartwell House. This was of course the same crown Napoleon had to relinquish, so you can see how culturally and historically significant this building is. Harwell House – The Mansion
The 30 bedroom house was reminiscent of medieval Britain and felt more like a homily environment due to its intimate design. Public rooms include the Great Hall, Morning room, Drawing room, Libraryand three elegant dining rooms. The remarkable decorative plaster work, marble fire-places and paneling are truly a sight to behold.
The house has fine Georgian interiors, dating from around 1760. The Morning Room and the Library are decorated in the Rococo style, with curvilinear marble chimney pieces, fluid plasterwork and joinery ornamented with garlands, masks, animals and volutes whilst the unique staircase that leads to the thirty bedrooms and suites contained within the house is decorated with carved Jacobean figures, which I found extremely fascinating.
Royal Double Suite – No 10
Upon entering our royal double suite, we took a few moments to take in the vast amount of space we had. The floor to ceiling windows overlooking the endless green national park grounds in the distance left one feeling in state of pure tranquility and secretly wished I could put my feet up and relax right there and then. The en suite bathroom was also delightful, and finished to a high standard.
Unfortunately my moment of relaxing in hot bath and our suite had to wait as I had a beauty treatment booked for 5 pm so had to rush back downstairs and make the short walk to the Spa.
Hartwell House Spa
Due to heavy traffic on our journey up to Aylesbury, we arrived just after 5 pm which ultimately meant there was not enough time for me to indulge in my 60 minute Jessica Nails Pedicureso settled for a 25 minute paint and polish.
My beauty therapist that afternoon was a lovely lady by the name of Chantel, who did a great job in the little time we had to ensure I still left the Spa with my toes proudly displaying classic, chic French tips using Jessica Nail Polish. We talked loads during our 25 minutes together and connected over the topics such as children, food and our love for country hotels and retreats.
Whilst I was gutted to have missed the opportunity to experience a full pedicure, I was extremely grateful to have still been seen after arriving at the hotel after 5 pm (thanks to the horrendous M25 traffic) and wanted to personally thank Chantel not only for lovely French tips that lasted weeks prior to our stay but also for her professionalism in instantly calming me down as I was probably a bit too overly apologetic upon arriving late for my appointment.
After hobbling back to my suite in a glamorous pair of cut out Historic Hotels cotton slippers, the Mr and I could no longer ignore our rumbling stomachs and with dinner over an hour away, we collectively decided to order something light to tie us over on their room service menu.
A prawn and avocado white bloomer with Marie rose was ordered and not before long was this delivered to our room. A suprise but nonetheless welcoming addition of handmade ready salted crisps filled the middle of the plate and we didn’t hesitate to tuck in.
I must admit, pairing prawns with avocado isn’t something I ever thought of doing but this combination ladies and gents, together with the Marie rose sauce was a match made in heaven. It was THAT GOOD that it left me inspired to recreate this very sandwich once we arrived back home.
Bellies content we had another 45 minutes or so spare before our dinner reservation at the informal setting of the Spa Cafe so took the opportunity to have a power nap.
Dinner at the Spa Cafe
As part of our complimentary overnight stay, we had the option of choosing a fine dining experience in The Principle Dining Roomor the Spa Café as a less informal option. We decided to choose the latter on this occasion. The entrance to the Spa Café (you’ve guessed it) is through the very entrance and corridor I came through a few hours earlier for my treatment, only this time we took a flight of stairs up two levels where the restaurant was located.
We were greeted by Spa Café Manager / Head Waiter Ian Walsh. The venue was pretty much empty bar a set of couples quietly dining towards the far back and terrace area of the restaurant which left us with the decision in choosing our seats.
Without hesitation, we chose an intimate table near the long glass window and had a glorious view overlooking the facilities indoor pool and lounge area. The spa facilities looked amazing from where we were sat and at that moment in time, I deeply regretted not packing my swimsuit for a leisurely swim the next morning after breakfast.
As always, I find myself requesting to view the virgin cocktails / mocktail menu before ordering any food for the Mr and I do not drink alcohol. I spied what was called the Florida Fizzand after inquiring what this concoction was made of, we both ordered one each.
For starters other half ordered Baked brie with Cumberland Dressing and Apple Walnut salad whilst I opted for SummerVegetable Pappardelle with Reggiano Parmesan. Our choice of drinks, together with a jug of lemon water was promptly delivered to our table and can honestly tell you, I will never forget that first sip of the ever delightful Florida Fizz!
Now close your eyes and imagine this for a second… Bursts of tangy orange instantly followed up by the luscious taste of fresh Caribbean ripened mango together with the fizziness from the grenadine and other fruit ingredients is the perfect combination to start a serious party in your mouth! My taste buds into instant overdrive and judging by the other half’s reaction I knew he felt the same and couldn’t help but find great amusement in our failed attempts to not to finish the lot before our starters arrived
I recall the service being extremely quick that evening, our starters were served in what felt like a little under 10 minutes after our initial order was placed (impressive). We were both left feeling satisfied and put us in good spirits as we pondered over the main course options.
For our mains we both opted for Cornish Cod, Monkfish and Tiger Prawns in Beer Batter with Pea Puree, Tartare Sauce and Chunky Chips.
We thoroughly enjoyed the crispiness and taste of our generously sized portioned beer battered fish pieces and recall each fish piece being nice and succulent, however, our chunky steakhouse style chips were unfortunately my least favourite food item I consumed that evening.
Speaking as self-confessed foodies, for us, the chips lacked the crunchiness on the outside and rather than the inside being soft and fluffy as you would expect chips to be it regrettably tasted slightly under-cooked. This was my only critique of the food we had the pleasure of trying that evening. Overall, the food we consumed was indeed very tasty and served in decent sized portions that will leave one feeling satisfied and content.
We naturally took a break to let our food digest before attempting dessert and both couldn’t resist the opportunity to order yet another Florida Fizz. The second glass was just as enjoyable as the first we had earlier and was at one point seriously contemplating to order a few more of these delicious virgin cocktails for our enjoyment later on in the evening in the comfort of our suite (I actually managed to restrain myself).
The time for dessert came around and my were we spoilt for choice! Classic Victoria Sponge, Lemon Drizzleand Chocolate Fudge cakes were on offer alongside the Spa Cafe’s more bespoke options. We must have been in a chocolaty mood as we both opted for the richest desserts on the menu.
Other half had Valrhona Chocolate and Cherry Roulade whilst I opted for the Chocolate Delice served with Cherry Ripple Ice Cream and Cherry Compote . Both were incredibly delightful, extremely rich tasting yet ooooh soooo satisfying! Definitely a chocolate lovers dream and my idea of perfection.
Our experience at Hartwell House Spa Café was a delightful one and would like to take the opportunity to thank Spa Cafe Manager Ian Walsh for hosting us that evening and Head Chef David Rawson for wonderful food!
Feeling incredibly full we decided to go for a gentle stroll around the grounds whilst letting our stomachs settle.
Breakfast – Room Service Style
Our preference when staying at hotels has always been via room service aka breakfast in bed. Nothing quite beats the feeling of being greeted with a Traditional English Breakfast, fresh juices and pastries from the comfort of one’s bed and own space. For me, I find the experience of having breakfast in bed way more enjoyable, relaxing and less stressful where you don’t feel rushed or pressurized to ‘get in and get out ‘per se.
Our breakfast plates are never shy of British Cumberland sausages, bacon, organic freerange scrambled eggs, hash browns and in the Mr.’s instance Black Pudding and that was no exception when we had breakfast in our royal double suite prior to our departure the following morning. Everything served was fresh and tasted clean and was washed down with a welcoming glass or two of grapefruit and cranberry juice.
Hartwell House Overall Thoughts
Harwell House and its wonderful surroundings is your ideal romantic getaway for both short and long stays. The house itself has a charming character and a very intimate feel that makes it feel like home. Every single member of staff we came across was incredibly friendly, more than happy to help and did a fabulous job at making their guests feel welcome. For these reasons, along with the great tasting food and overall service, Hartwell House comes highly recommended.
Now I know why the likes of King Louis XVIII, Bill Clinton and the likes of Jay Z also fell in love this wonderful country hotel that is Hartwell House and as such, puts itself firmly in the running to make my Shortlist of Top 10 UK Country Houses and Hotels to visit that I am currently curating.
Harwell House has numerous overnight stay packages on offer with prices starting from £205.00 (based on two people this price includes an overnight stay in a standard double bedroom, full English Breakfast, £52.00 allowance towards Dinner and full use of the hotel’s spa and gym facilities. Spa Treatments not included).
For more information including the different types of accommodation, dining, spa and seasonal activities on offer, Hartwell House can be found by visiting the Hartwell House website.
In closing, I would like to thank my PR contact Peter Da Silva of Boutique De Silva Publications for kindly arranging my complimentry stay, and for also keeping me abreast all communications of the process from initial enquiry right through to reservation confirmation and post visit feedback.
Photo Credits: All photographs within this article belong to Boutique Da Silva Publication with the exception of all food and drink images copyright This Woman’s Word.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post nor has any money been exchanged. The visit to this venue was complimentary in exchange for a review. All opinions shared within this article are honest and entirely my own.
Danielle is a 1st Dan Kickboxing coach / Assistant Instructor under the PKA Kickboxing Association who is also a health, fitness, green beauty, wellness and lifestyle freelance writer / digital journalist. Her passions include encouraging others to lead an active, health conscious lifestyle whilst leading her Breakin’ Boundrez team on various fitness related challenges.