Ladies that Lunch at Cliveden House
Last week, Cliveden House invited two of the London Launchettes to venture out of the busy hustle and bustle of London, to experience what the beautiful countryside pastures of Berkshire had to offer.
With excited anticipation for what was in store for our day in the countryside, we packed our wellies, donned our country best and hit the road. Located just a short car journey from London, off the M40, Cliveden is just a stone’s throw away from London’s fast paced environment, yet you feel transported into a refreshingly relaxing surrounding of vast countryside.
Turning into the entrance, we were rewarded with the magnificent sight of Cliveden’s famous Fountain of Love that stood sparkling in the midday sun. Made in the late 1800’s, carved out of marble and volcanic rock, this glorious fountain is reason enough to visit Cliveden House.
The Love fountain paints the road to a long driveway leading up to the main house, making us feel as if we were Dorothy and Toto (that’s Melanie) strolling down the yellow brick road to the Emerald city… except with a 17th century twist. In awe we ventured down the long drive, taking in this stupendously handsome manor, as we grew closer - a snapshot of history reserved and restored since the 1600’s, it really is a breath-takingly beautiful mansion.
We entered the House via the Great Hall and got a feel for what it would have been like to step into a house owned by King Henry VIII, complete with suits of armour, antique furniture, stone flooring and paintings of all manner of Lords and Ladies from past eras gazing down on you! I don’t think I would have been surprised if I had seen King Henry himself. The dimly lit, brooding room was an impressive introduction to Cliveden, and would be an incredible location for wedding ceremonies, corporate parties or drink receptions. With the ability to adapt the room to pretty much however you want it, it certainly opens a window to creating the most spectacularly grand event imaginable and if you want to impress your guests, this is the place for you!
We began our tour of the lavish house with the bedrooms. The house has forty-four luxury bedrooms all exhibiting spectacular views of the Parterre, and each uniquely decorated in accordance to the era the house was built. It was hard to distinguish a favourite; all are beautiful in their own right. However, one bedroom did perhaps sneak into first position, merely because it quite literally took my breath away. The Lady Astor Suite can only be described as a work of art – luxuriously decorated, with views of the mansions grounds that seem to go on forever, and boasting a large private terrace, this room really is THE place to stay if you want to experience what its like to be Royalty. I found the room very quaint and intriguing, everywhere you look you feel like you are finding little secrets from the past – there was even a secret door camouflaged into the wall!
The Prince of Wales Suite also stood out with its equally beautiful views of the mansion’s Parterre, this suite is segregated into four rooms - the living room, bedroom, bathroom and a small dressing area. It instantly attracted my attention with its rich, deep red colour scheme, antique furniture and original works of art. Being fit for a King it is also rumoured to be where Michael Jackson stayed when he visited the house.
Eager to see more, we were whisked off down stone floored winding passages, laden with grand paintings, into door after door of seemingly unchanged rooms each telling stories of the house’s three hundred year history. From secret drink compartments in Lord Astor’s study to displays of servant bells used by staff from the 1600’s – the house’s character comes alive in its quirky unique ways, each room telling a different story from the last.
The 18th Century Rococco French Dining Room is a stunning masterpiece, glittered in gold, with large doors leading onto a terrace area, it is the perfect event space for meeting to impress clients, for intimate wedding dinners, summer time drinks or lavish parties.
After the tour we were treated to a lunch of fine dining in the Andre Garrett Restaurant. An exquisite room that has recently undergone a transformation, with its spectacular interior, large sparkling chandeliers and views of the grounds, I was already remarkably impressed before having even tasted the food!
When I was told the food would be good, I had no idea! Andre Garrett, a Michelin-starred chef who originally worked on Park Lane, can only be described as some sort of magician, he is the Einstein of the cooking world – the food was exceptional! Starting with the Salad of Devon Crab, not only did it taste like heaven but it was beautifully presented too - two delicate purple flowers laid on top of delicious parcels of crab meat, it was almost too pretty to eat (almost!). I became instantly aware the lengths Cliveden will go in order to impress their guests; the attention to detail was second to none!
Next up, I went for the Fillet of Lake District Longhorn Beef and I was not disappointed. The beef practically melted in my mouth and was cooked to perfection, accompanied with Lincolnshire Poacher mash which was hands down the best mash I have ever had, deliciously smooth and creamy! I wolfed the lot down and was ready for desert.
It might be embarrassing to admit but I was excited. I was now well aware of how good the food was, so I was excited for the big finale. I had chosen the Variations Chocolate and mint dessert, which included, ganache, aero, crumble and Moroccan mint ice cream! Once again presented with charming attention to detail, it didn’t stand a chance, I devoured it quickly and like the first two courses, it was remarkable! The flavours complimented each other perfectly and I felt thoroughly satisfied!
After lunch, we popped our heads round the doors of the tucked away equestrian themed Club Room and The Pavilion Spa, which was complete with an outdoor and indoor pool, treatment rooms and two rather cosy looking outdoor Jacuzzis that oozed relaxation in every sense of the word.
We were sorry to be leaving, but thankful to have been able to experience such a delightful gem so close to London. The staff were charming, polite and friendly, welcoming you with open arms into Cliveden House’s unique oasis.We ended our visit with a walk to explore the grounds of the vast Grade I National Trust estate. It was hard not to feel like Alice in Wonderland; the grounds bragged beautiful woodlands, mazes, stunning lakes and even secret looking little footpaths, taking you off road into various hidden locations. Tucked away amongst the woodland next to a lake, we stumbled upon Spring Cottage – a beautifully picturesque cottage that would be ideal for guests who want to escape from the business of life and get a bit of privacy from the world.
The house’s abundance of rooms, state of the art technical equipment and the flexibility in adapting spaces in accordance to your needs, makes it the perfect choice for any sort of event. Guests are even able to privately hire the whole house, opening the door to endless possibilities, enabling you to alter anything in accordance to your specific desire.
So if you want to escape London, but don’t want to trek for miles to the middle of nowhere and you want a venue that exudes delightful charm and demonstrates the essence of old England, then Cliveden is worth a visit. It has been enjoyed by a long list of some of the most famous people of all time since the 1600’s, including, Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill, The Beatles, Charlie Chaplin and Michael Jackson, so why not add your name to the list and check it out for yourself? It has been advised in the past that ‘no-one ever refuses an invitation to Cliveden’ - I certainly didn’t, will you?
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