Cliveden House, Berkshire

Cliveden House, Berkshire

“With a history of unapologetic debauchery, our Grade-I-listed
stately home’s most heinous of scandals shook the British
parliament and played out on these very grounds.”

So sets the tone for Cliveden, which you’ve probably
heard of thanks to its cameo role as the backdrop for the start of
the Profumo affair – 19-year-old model and alleged mistress to a
Russian spy, Christine Keeler, met a young John Profumo here on a
long hot summer’s evening in 1961 – and the eye-wateringly
magnificent mansion house with its sprawling gardens
and impeccable service continues to woo well-heeled visitors

Renowned for Gatsby-esque parties thrown by Lord Astor,
21st-century Cliveden is the
hotel to trump all others; a place where
starstruck young lovers join those who have stood the test of time
for a weekend of wandering hand-in-hand through this illustrious
pocket of history, whispers of the past beckoning them along
wood-panelled corridors and down to the end of the garden for
snatched moments that may change their lives forever.

What’s for breakfast?

Taken beneath twinkling chandeliers and pastel frescoes in the
cream and gilt dining room with sweeping views of the grounds, head
to the buffet table which heaves under home-baked pastries, cold
cuts, fruits, cereals and yoghurts, before turning your attention
to a hot menu of eggs benny and the like. Whatever you plump for,
be sure to order hollandaise sauce on the side – far from the
bright-yellow gloopy stuff that arrives all too often, the light,
frothy texture is evidence of its just-whisked state and it’s
simply sublime.

How about lunch and dinner?

For lunch, equestrian-themed Astor Grill set in the hotel
grounds is a relaxed, brasserie-style affair serving up an all-day
menu of salads, steaks and burgers – treat it as your pub following
a brusque walk down to the River Thames. For dinner, play up to
your scintillatingly glamorous surroundings with an outfit Nancy
Astor would approve of (she famously stated: “I married beneath me.
All women do.”) and an extra spritz of your headiest fragrance.
Then sashay to the dining room to make your way through a
delightful menu that begins with yellowfin-tuna tartare,
roasted-duck liver and black winter-truffle risotto before diving
into beautiful fish courses – we can never resist dover sole – or
perhaps a loin of roe-deer wellington to share. A stellar wine list
is delivered by a smiling sommelier who guides guests from their
first sip of sparkling through to their last swill of sauterne.

Is there a bar?

Yes. Dark, moody and lined with leather-bound volumes, order
something stiff and seductive and imagine what Cliveden was like
when Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria were visitors.

Things I should know

There’s an open pantry on the first floor, stocked with homemade
treats and digestifs, perfect for a midnight feast chez toi.


The spa is second-to-none, offering seven treatment rooms
alongside a Technogym, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and tennis
courts, a sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and al-fresco hot tubs. We’re
not sure if these count as amenities per se, but for winter you’ll
find firelit, armchair-filled sitting rooms galore, while summer
calls for a boat trip and picnic.

Within a short walk I can find…

This isn’t the place for a short walk. Grab a bottle and your
companion, then head out into the manicured gardens and the woods
beyond for an afternoon of frolicking that Lord Astor would be
proud of.