Hotel Review: Cliveden House, Taplow, Maidenhead in Berkshire
Cliveden House is an exceptional five-star hotel situated within 376 acres of picturesque National Trust gardens in bucolic Berkshire. This grand country escape has every luxury you could ask for from a luxury getaway; decadent décor, a fine dinning restaurant, a bar, a laidback second eatery set in listed stables and a recently renovated spa.
First a little back story: built in 1666 by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers, the original Cliveden House was a hunting lodge gifted by the duke to his mistress, Anna-Maria. Since the seventeenth century, the house has undergone many extensive rebuilds and expansion projects, the most prolific of which was undertaken by the Astor family in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The grand Neo-Classical house has played host to many well-known names in history; from the British monarchy and Winston Churchill to President Roosevelt, Christine Keeler and John Profumo (a trip to Cliveden’s outdoor pool sparked the Profumo affair), and most recently the Duchess of Sussex, who stayed here before her wedding earlier this year.
Driving up the tree-lined driveway, you’ll see the Grade I listed house is adorned with all the trademarks of a luxury escape; elegant Neo-Classical architecture, an elaborate sandstone façade, a well-dressed doorman and of course a couple of super cars parked outside.
Inside is much the same; upon walking through the entrance you enter the lounge, a relaxed and welcoming room with sumptuous velvet seating around a large fireplace, and several tapestries and suits of armour along the wood-panelled walls – a very good first impression.
The bedrooms are located around the estate, though the top-tier suites are in the main house: entering one of these rooms is a real wow moment as the suites are filled with opulent fabrics and antiques, and have high ceilings, fireplaces and tall Georgian windows with sweeping views across the estate.
From the Club rooms, to the famed Lady Astor Suite, each of the rooms at Cliveden is individually styled: some are more traditional than others, so choose your stay based on your tastes; do you prefer period features and four-poster beds, or hot tubs and sleek sophistication. No matter which you choose, all have recently been redecorated and are at once stylish and in keeping with the historic house.
Located a minute’s walk from the main house, Cliveden Spa occupies a secluded spot tucked away behind brick walls in a garden-like setting scented by roses and lavender. Inspired by the main house, the recently-renovated building has a Classical feel with pillars, marble floors and sandstone-coloured walls, however it is considerably more modern and has an understated luxury that’s relaxing and calming.
Far from a run-of-the-mill spa, Cliveden Spa has every possible form of pampering covered. As well as seven treatment rooms, there’s The Studio which offers manicures and pedicures with Cliveden’s own range of varnishes, an infrared sauna, an infused steam room, two outdoor hot tubs, and indoor Jacuzzi, a heated indoor pool and a relaxation area which overlooks the ‘Profumo’ pool, the last listed outdoor pool in England.
If you indulged a little too much the night before, there’s a state-of-the-art Technogym with a daily schedule of classes and a tennis centre with one indoor and two outdoor courts. Plus, with the Spa Kitchen offering healthy, al fresco dining onsite, you won’t need to leave the comfort of your snug robe and slippers until evening tipples in the bar call your name.
Each treatment begins with a foot bathing ritual to get you in a relaxed mind-set, and allow your highly trained therapist to conduct a full consultation that’ll ensure your treatment is exactly what you want. After this, you’ll hop onto a water mattresses which gives you a feeling of weightless throughout your therapy and begin your treatment.
The long treatment menu features two types of facials; Oskia’s multi-award-winning facials and Sarah Chapman’s celebrated Skinesis therapies – Cliveden has an exclusive partnership with the latter so is the only place to enjoy them. Cliveden also boasts its own range of body treatments, the scents of which were inspired by two of Cliveden’s most famous former female owners, Anna-Maria and Nancy Astor. Should you wish to take a bit of the relaxation home with you, the Spa has two fragrances and a range of luxurious body products, designed by Oskia for sale.
Cliveden has two restaurants to choose from, but whichever you decide to dine in – I recommend you try both – you’ll be treated to mouth-wateringly tasty dishes. Dinner is a formal affair at the André Garrett restaurant o n the ground floor of the main house. With grand Georgian windows overlooking the terrace and estate beyond, the grand dining room is opulently-decorated with crystal chandelier, glistening gilt ornament, velvet seating and blue and gold silk curtains.
Executive Chef André Garrett, of Galvin at Windows fame, is known for his innovative dishes, and his seasonal à la carte and eight-course tasting menus at Cliveden do not disappoint. Both are filled with delectable dishes that showcase Berkshire’s best fresh produce and Garrett’s fastidious approach to cooking.
Head Sommelier, Sean Arthur’s extensive, yet carefully selected cellar contains 1,666 wines (the year that Cliveden was built). Arthur’s keen appreciation of flavours lead to delicious pairings, some quite original, though all well worth a try. If possible, book ahead and reserve a table by the window for views across the grounds.
The more relaxed Astor Grill was once the stables for Lord Astor’s prized fillies and is the only building in Britain to have listed stalls. Easily the chicest stables you’ll ever dine in, the restaurant still has the original stalls, wood-panelled walls and paved floors of the stables, though these have been stylishly updated with blue-leather banquettes, dark wood tables and modern octagonal tiles that allude to the building’s practical past.
You’ll spot several horse-themed trinkets, such as horse-leg-shaped table legs and a chandelier designed to look like it’s made out of bridles, dotted throughout the space. The menu is overseen by Executive Chef André Garrett and has a mixture of classic American and British dishes, all of which are packed with flavour.
Through its long and illustrious past, historic hotel, Cliveden House has perfected the art of five-star service. The exceptional facilities are made all the better by the wonderful team of staff who are not only friendly and welcoming, but will go beyond to ensure you enjoy your stay. With its spoiling spa, two restaurants and beautiful setting, Cliveden House is a must for anyone in search of a luxury country escape.
Address: Cliveden Rd, Taplow, Maidenhead SL6 0JF
Phone: 01628 668561
All photography courtesy of Cliveden House