Lady of the manor! 7 stately homes you can stay in
The new Downton film is here, and we fancy channelling Lady Mary. For a stately staycay, here are seven manors you can overnight in (butlers sadly not included).
Pack your faux furs, your pearls and your tennis whites – Downton Abbey: A New Era releases this month (29 April), and we’re booking in a weekender to celebrate. Here’s our top picks around the UK…
Highclere Castle, Hampshire
Fancy a slice of the High(clere) life? What better place to stay than Downton itself? While you might not be able to stay inside Grade I-listed Highclere Castle, near Newbury, it’s home to two pretty period lodges on the grounds that you can book for two- or three-night stays. The circular Grotto Lodge has been done up beautifully by Lady Carnarvon, with calming colourways, bespoke furniture made by Highclere’s own carpenter, and an alfresco dining space. Alternatively, you can book the London Lodge, which is built around the stone archway at the entrance of the estate. Expect plenty of Farrow & Ball goodness, a woodburner for cosy nights, and a separate area with a bedroom, bathroom and dressing room. If only it came with our own Carson…
Rushton Hall Hotel and Spa, Northamptonshire
Grade I-listed Rushton Hall has it all – huge four-poster suites with some of the biggest bathrooms you’ve ever laid eyes on (trust me, I’ve stayed and I’m pretty sure the ensuite was bigger than my living room), 25 acres of grounds with a lake, croquet lawn and tennis court, and excellent dining thanks to their 1593 Brasserie and Tresham Restaurant (which boast three AA rosettes). If you ever tire of the 16th century charm – as if – there’s a thoroughly modern spa on site too, with a sleek indoor swimming pool, fitness room and indulgent range of treatments.
The Ickworth Hotel, Suffolk
We’ve got the National Trust to thank for access to this Georgian Italianate palace – it used to be home to the Marquess of Bristol, but it’s been transformed into a family-friendly hotel with excellent facilities. There’s 1800 acres of grounds for you and the kids to explore (borrow some wellies from the hotel if you forget your own, or hop on one of their bikes to cut down on walking time), and an indoor pool to splash around in. They even offer free babysitting in their Four Bears Den, as well as a room monitoring service if you want to leave your precious little ones snoozing while mum and dad take full advantage of the adults-only Frederick’s restaurant.
Walton Hall, Warwickshire
Warks is packed with pretty manor houses, and Walton Hall is no exception – and, best of all, you won’t need a Earl’s budget to afford a room. This 16th century Grade II-listed building has been transformed into a 4-star hotel with all the mod cons a girl could wants, from an indoor swimming pool and swish gym suite to spa treatment rooms, and sauna and steam room. There’s also cool 65 acres of grounds to wander around (maybe working off your meal from the two-time AA rosette-awarded restaurant?) and it’s a stone’s throw from Stratford-upon-Avon – perfect for a romantic mini-break.
Danesfield House Hotel & Spa, Buckinghamshire
This country house is a quintessentially English break (why else do you think the Clooneys are a fan?), with IG-worthy views of the River Thames and the Chiltern hills, excellent dining options courtesy of head chef James Bailey (you need to try the afternoon tea here) and a multi-award-winning spa with indoor pool, gym and a range of luxury treatments. Take private walking tours of the 65 acres of grounds and gardens, hire a boat for a jaunt out on the river or trikes for exploring the rolling Bucks countryside.
Stapleford Park, Leicestershire
It’s not often a hotel comes with its own resident falconer (!), but that’s quirky 14th century haunt Stapleford Park all over. Packed full of heritage prints, taxidermy and grand furnishings (I could get lost in some of those four-posters), the hotel will make you feel like you’ve fallen into a period novel – that is, until you hit the championship 18-hole golf course and Clarins Gold Spa (complete with heated indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room). If the weather’s accommodating, explore the maze-like gardens, enjoy views of sheep-dotted grounds, or head into nearby Melton Mowbray for a pork pie. Don’t mind if I do.
Thoresby Hall Hotel, Nottinghamshire
This grand Grade I-listed Revivalist manor on the edge of Sherwood Forest has a horticultural claim to fame – it’s home to Major Oak, England’s most famous tree (who knew?) and where Robin Hood apparently exchanged vows with Maid Marion. In the here and now, it’s a four-star hotel with laidback luxe vibes in every room, two great restaurants and an indoor pool with jacuzzi and spa treatments on offer. You can also try your hand at archery, croquet or rifle shooting – or just sit back and enjoy the live music and entertainment.