Last Friday we hosted the dressing up room at Rule Britannia at Stoke Place, another splendid party by Polly Betton and Tea-time productions. I was dressed as the Queen circa 1953, in a 1950’s tuille sequined prom dress (that weighed 7 kilos), a tiara and sash featuring medals craftily cut out by my wonderful helper Mai, completed the look. Several gins later, I was Princess Margaret, doing cartwheels on the lawn.
After another amazing evening of fun and frolics I was delighted to wake up in a marshmallow of pillows, in the very grand Regency suite. Yes my own intended room, thank you!
Holidays growing up were restricted to windy camping in the Dordogne and drinking too much menthe a l’eau. Adulthood unfortunately, has not seen enough of the underrated pleasure of staying in a nice hotel for the sake of it. A trip to Grosvenor House ended in tears due to uncooked chicken wings being delivered at 2am despite cancelling the suppurating poultry snack four hours earlier.
Whilst I crawled around the bed (Tiara from the night before still intact) figuring out that yes, I could feasibly sleep in all directions, my sister was busy indulging in a time-old Thompson tradition of using every free bath product on offer (Aveda no less).
Stoke Place is a three storey ‘William and Mary’ style house and was built as a family home in 1690 by Patrick Lamb. Later, east and west wings were added to the building, creating a substantial and impressive country house. The infamous talents of Capability Brown turned the surrounding grounds into a quintessential rural idyll. Filled with nooks and crannies, and with plenty of original features to ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over, the decor, with its lush plum rooms, secret corridors, whimsical giant candles and empty picture frames, lends a narnia-esque feel that is conducive to wondering aroundbare foot and reading Nancy Mitford.
The staff are lovely, not at all snobby, and they didn’t bat an eyelid at some of the outfits still lingering from the night before. After breakfast it was giant chess on the lawn, and dipping a toe in the marvellous lake bordering the garden. Giant hammocks for two are dotted around the sumptuous grounds. Understandably I pretty much had to be prised away kicking and screaming from this quirky oasis of countryside calm, back to the train station, clutching onto a giant knight.
The best part is that the hotel is only 20 minutes by train from Paddington, and once you to get past the grimness of Slough, the area is so beautiful that you may as well be in the Cotswolds. Private picnics can be organised, as well as clay shooting. The brand manager, Lucy Cracknell is terribly helpful and can organise anything. My only grumble is that I would have rather shared my suite with a certain someone, rather than my little sister doing laps in the free standing bath. A romantic ‘must- do’ this summer with the right person, and perfect for escaping over crowded London parks and fixed-wheel bikes.