Hartwell House – Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
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Hartwell House – Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

One of the great pleasures of visiting hotels is that they’re often very special buildings to which you’d never normally have access. One shining example is Hartwell House, a Grade I-listed stately home that was occupied from 1809 to 1814 by the exiled Louis XVIII. Inside, there are beautiful rooms with antique furniture and paintings. The Morning Room, for example, is a masterpiece of English design by Henry Keene, virtually unchanged since its completion in 1740, with a stunning rococo ceiling by Thomas Roberts of Oxford. There’s also an extraordinary Jacobean staircase, lined with statues of the knights of Europe, leading from the Great Hall. If you think all this grandeur means pomp and ceremony, worry not. As with fellow National Trust Historic House Hotels, Bodysgallen Hall and Middlethorpe Hall, the hospitality is natural and attentive, the bedrooms as comfortable as they are grand, and the food as delicious as you would expect. An afternoon tea is served daily in the magnificent drawing rooms. And the hotel’s spa is a classically themed delight.

Doubles from £400

+44 (0)1296 747444; hartwell-house.com

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Swimming pool
Sitting room at Hartwell House