Top 10 stately homes
Historic properties with opulent interiors
Once the home of Henry VIII’s last and luckiest wife, Katherine Parr, this medieval stronghold is steeped in history. Stay in one of 11 self-catering properties dotted around the grounds, from a converted paper mill with exposed stone and original beams to a former engine room. Wander around the award-winning gardens such as Queens’ - renowned for its roses - and see Katherine Parr’s famous love letter to Sir Thomas Seymour and other memorabilia in the exhibitions.
This Georgian manor house hotel is home to the tallest Tulip trees in Europe (so named because of their tulip-shape flowers). Stylish bedrooms have contemporary four-poster beds with silk throws, matching cushions and sleek bathrooms. Large picture windows overlook the six-acre grounds. Eat in the high-ceilinged Berry’s restaurant or down the road at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray for snail porridge or egg and bacon ice cream. Windsor Castle is 10 minutes’ drive away.
Tuck into hand-dived scallops with cauliflower puree and bacon in the mahogany-panelled dining room at this 19th century country house hotel. Pamper yourself in the spa in a converted stable block with a glass-roofed indoor pool and gym. The hotel is set in 38 acres with a lake, sweeping lawns and specimen trees. Beyond lies the award-winning gardens at Tatton Park, Chester and Beeston Castle, which sits on a rocky crag overlooking eight counties.
As first impressions go, it’s a good one. A sweeping tree-lined drive leads to the Georgian façade of this Elizabethan manor house. Stroll along the laurel walk to the health club with its gym and outdoor heated pool. Next door is an 18-hole golf course. Head chef Alan Ford uses garden herbs in his imaginative food (Suffolk pork cooked three different ways) served in the Grand Salon with its magnificent chandelier and ornate fireplace.
There’s a real homely feel to this traditional country house hotel. Wellies are left by the front door, eggs from the hens in the extensive gardens and friendly staff eager to attend to your every need. Owned by the Talbot-Ponsonby family for seven generations, the house dates back to the 17th century (Royalist prisoners were used to dig the vaults, now an atmospheric restaurant). Thirteen bedrooms are individually decorated with flowery curtains and matching bedspreads while two offering a ‘night sky’ effect with twinkling stars.
Charles Dickens is said to have used the lavish interior of this 15th century mansion house as the inspiration for Havershall Hall in Great Expectations. You can see why. Everything is on a grand scale, from the heavy timber doors with ornate plasterwork, stone fireplaces, mullioned stone windows and yards of oak panelling. Work up an appetite for the modern British menu in the contemporary Courtyard Spa with its sauna, steam room and indoor pool.
Sweeping acres of grounds surround this baronial 19th century mansion house with a lake, croquet lawn and 18-hole golf course. Beyond is the ancient woodland of Ashdown Forest crisscrossed by paths and bridleways. The 105 traditional country house bedrooms have outrageously comfortable beds with haute couture Vi-Sprung mattresses, goose-down pillows and 300-thread count sheets.
More unadulterated luxury is on offer in the Country Club with its indoor pool, gym and treatment rooms.
Set in 350 acres with a spa, 13 tennis courts and a golf course, this grade I listed Palladian mansion is the perfect spot for a rejuvenating break. Stay in the 21-room mansion house with four posters, fireplaces, marble bathrooms and terraces offering spectacular views of the grounds or opt for the 28 contemporary rooms in the new Pavilion. Tuck into modern British dishes in the elegant dining room or have a pizza at Marco’s.
Opulent best describes the interior of this neo-Gothic mansion with its ornate gilded ceilings, wood panelling, luxurious drapes, floor-to-ceiling windows and oil paintings. Bedrooms are more contemporary with silk throws on the beds, flat screen TVs and bathrobes. Tuck into smoked venison with a tarragon croquette in the atmospheric Oak Room restaurant. There are 40 acres of parkland to explore while Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avon and medieval Warwick Castle are within an easy drive.
This 46-room Jacobean and Georgian house has eschewed the trend towards contemporary interiors and stuck firmly to its roots. Filled with decorative ceilings, wood panelling, antiques and fine paintings it must have been a fitting home for the exiled King of France, Louis XVIII, in the early 19th century. Take one of the walking trails through the 90-acre landscaped gardens and grounds or chill out in the spa with its indoor pool, steam room and saunas.