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Hotel Highlights

  • One of England’s most infamous and distinguished historic homes
  • Fine French cuisine in a brace of gourmet eateries
  • Inspiring Berkshire greenery on the banks of the Thames

Overview

Ever since John Profumo first laid eyes on Christine Keeler as she basked in Cliveden’s pool, it’s been clear that this Berkshire boutique hotel was destined to be a Mr & Mrs Smith retreat of choice. As well as being a celebrated haunt for politicos and literati, this majestic neoclassical manor, with its air of faded grandeur, is the proud birthplace of the £100 club sandwich – worth every penny, we’re relieved to add.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Cliveden with us:

Complimentary breakfast on each morning of your stay; plus a half-bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates.

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at Cliveden

'A sparkling taste offer'

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

38 rooms, including 15 spacious suites. There’s also Spring Cottage, a freestanding summerhouse by the Thames that sleeps up to six.

Check–out

11am. Later check-out is possible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $399.75 (£255), excluding tax at 20 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of £10.50 per person on check-out.

More details

Rates include Continental breakfast.

Also

Take a pleasure trip by river or air – Cliveden has a flotilla of boats and a fleet of helicopters you can hire. Cliveden has its own three-bedroom riverside guesthouse, Spring Cottage which comes equipped with a butler. This holiday house also has history: Profumo and friends frolicked here in the run-up to the huge political scandal in the Sixties.

At the hotel

Pavilion spa, gym, snooker room, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, squash courts, boathouse with three boats, helipad, library, DVD/CD selection. In-room amenities: TV, DVD/CD player, roll-top baths, under-floor heating.

Our favourite rooms

Each one of Cliveden’s rooms – named after the illustrious personalities who have been part of the manor’s checkered history – has something uniquely appealing about it. But if forced to pick favourites, the Henry James suite, with its 10-mile view of rolling countryside from its marble bath tub, the Sutherland room with its palette of soft pastels and its astonishingly ornate chimneypiece, and the Chinese room, which is light, airy and impeccably styled in light golds, are all pretty special. Ask for a suite in the main house, overlooking the gardens, rather than rooms on the ground floor, which are located by the car park.

Poolside

The Pavilion Spa boasts a heated indoor pool surrounded by loungers. The walled garden – the amorous arbour that kick-started the Profumo affair – is home to the heated outdoor pool, where waiters serve drinks and snacks to reclining guests.

Packing tips

Brush up on your Great Brit literature and bring something by George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling or Joyce Grenfell: they all spent time at Cliveden. On a more prosaic note, bring tipping change in case your car is given a clean.

Also

Pets are more than welcome – for £30 a night Fido gets a welcome pack with treats and a dog bed. A special meal from the chef's doggy menu will also be served in room.

Children

Extra beds can brought into rooms for £60 a night, plus VAT, and children are welcome throughout the hotel. Babysitting is £8 an hour (£10 an hour after midnight), with a booking fee of £30 plus VAT. There's a considered kids' menu in the restaurant.

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Food & Drink

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Cliveden hotel – Berkshire – United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

The chandeliered, portrait-lined André Garrett at Cliveden restaurant is overseen by the eponymous, Michelin-starred chef. His lunchtime market menu and evening tasting menu are well suited to the refined surrounds including well-heeled – and locally sourced – dishes such as Roast Brêsse pigeon, Ballotine of foie gras and Cotswold white chickeen, and an extraordinarily decadent 72 per cent chocolate ganache with popcorn ice cream for dessert. Brunch, afternoon tea and a less-formal gastropub-style dinner can be taken in the Club Room.

Hotel Bar

Classical piano music adds a sparkle to the atmosphere in the Great Hall three nights a week, where guests sup signature Cliveden champagne cocktails and marvel at the majestic staircase, imposing fireplace and delightfully vintage furnishings.

Last orders

Both restaurants take last orders at 9.30pm, but there is some flexibility for hotel guests. Drinks and snacks are available 24 hours a day.

Room service

Full meals are available from 10am to 10pm and a snack menu can be served in-rooms throughout the night.

Smith Insider

Dress code

A dapper ensemble for Mr Smith; something suitably decadent for his mistress. Leave your jeans at home.

Top table

Grab a table beside the André Garrett at Cliveden restaurant’s French windows, for the stunning views of the parterre. In Waldo’s, go for the added intimacy of a booth.

Local Guide

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Cliveden hotel – Berkshire – United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Cliveden is enviably close to the foodie village of Bray, where Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck (01628 580 333) serves up its unique creations. . Book at least a month in advance for weekend tables. Its sister establishment, The Riverside Brasserie (01628 7805 530) is located in an old boathouse and makes for great summer dining. If you're all Blumenthal'd out, the Roux brothers have The Waterside Inn (01628 620 691), serving fine French cuisine at the end of a pretty lane.

+ Enlarge
Bucolic Berkshire riverbank

Cliveden

Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire, SL6 0JF, United Kingdom

Planes

Land at London Heathrow and you'll be a 20-minute drive from Cliveden House. Gatwick's a little further (it should take 50 minutes).

Trains

The nearest station is Burnham, around four miles away. Trains from London Paddington take 30 minutes.

Automobiles

To get to the hotel on wheels, you’ll need to leave the M40 at Junction 2 and the M4 at Junction 7. From central London, the drive should take 40 minutes. From Maidenhead, take the A4 towards Slough.

Reviews

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Cliveden hotel – Berkshire – United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Jake Knowles , Intrepid advertiser

‘Follow the drive, past the water feature and we you can’t miss it,’ the National Trust gatekeeper tells us soon after we’ve turned off the Taplow Road and down brochure-pretty Berkshire country lanes. He isn’t kidding. A baby-faced angel rescuing a semi-naked stone dame is a fitting welcome to the ultimate country house hotel. The long, wide drive allows the view to …
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Cliveden

Anonymous review by Jake Knowles, Intrepid advertiser

‘Follow the drive, past the water feature and we you can’t miss it,’ the National Trust gatekeeper tells us soon after we’ve turned off the Taplow Road and down brochure-pretty Berkshire country lanes. He isn’t kidding. A baby-faced angel rescuing a semi-naked stone dame is a fitting welcome to the ultimate country house hotel. The long, wide drive allows the view to sink in slowly and the horseshoe-shaped Italianate mansion at its end is breathtakingly beautiful, way beyond grand. Frankly, we are no longer Mr and Mrs Smith; we’ve just been made Lord and Lady.

An immaculately dressed footman with a suitably sophisticated French lilt waves us to a stop, and asks for the keys. Oh dear! Why hadn’t Monty the 10-year-old Saab been cleaned? Why had Mrs Smith spilled half a packet of crisps all over the centre console? And why-oh-why, was he parking it between two Aston Martins? We were both mildly horrified. Another polite man in a constricting eight-piece suit carries our bags and ushers us through the oak-panelled luxury of the great hall, past the three suits of armour and up the roomy staircase. Huge 18th-century portraits stare down at us, a Who’s Who of Anglo-American history, and I can’t help but think of the talking artworks in Harry Potter. I’m sure I can hear an oil-painting long-forgotten princess tut-tutting as we ascend.

Our calligraphied name has been added to the little brass holder on the door of the Gibson Superior Double Deluxe. And this is mid-range, apparently. With views back down the drive to the Fountain of Love water feature and to our left, the kind of clock tower that has graced many a silver screen. It’s reminiscent of a lifestyle once enjoyed by the Astors and now not many other than the Windsors or Wales, or whatever their surname is. Old-fashioned opulent English luxury in that chintz-and-blue-china-plates-on-the-wall way. Sotheby’s would have a field day. There is even an old writing desk where I can pen my review, and a make-up table for Mrs Smith, who has just thrown herself squealing onto the four-poster bed. (Later she is bitterly disappointed that the curtains are just for show and don’t actually close.) Elgar, naturally, is emanating from somewhere, and after inspection we discover it’s not from the walk-in wardrobe but from the modern radio in an antique console, now a tasteful 21st-century entertainment cabinet.

I pop down a level and sneak out onto a terrace for a crafty smoke. Terribly vulgar I know, but think of it as a tribute to Sir Winston, Cliveden’s most famous former resident. Palace of Versailles meets ‘The Draughtsman’s Contract’ in the palatial, manicured and staggeringly magnificent 376 acres of grounds. Beyond the trees lies the River Thames. It couldn’t be any more peaceful. The orange lights of London in the distance and the jumbo jets circling Heathrow don’t even taint the view, rather reinforce the fact that so close to the city, this is a haven, a retreat from the chaos. It’s a million miles away from the Capital and at least a hundred years apart.

After a night’s slumber, we realise how well we slept in that big, dark room. To try and revive ourselves, and make the most for this new taste we’ve acquired for how the other half live, we order a decadent fresh truffle and chive omelette then, more spoilingly, head for the Pavilion Spa. I recognise the outdoor pool as being the legendary scene of the start of the Profumo affair; namely thanks to having seen the film ‘Scandal’ rather than having been a fly-on-the-wall at Sixties’ soirées. Well, if you are going to muck about, you might as well do it in style. The spa and my deep-tissue sports massage are a fantastic pick-me-up – only I was disappointed not to spot any Christine Keeler types splashing about in the plunge pool. Mind you, they’d have be part Eskimo to survive its temperature.

Refreshed and virtuous we explore the grounds. Mrs Smith is determined to find the grotto, which Mrs Smith spies plotted on a map in the gardens, but hidden in reality. We see a chap having a beer in the sun with the papers and my own treasure hunt reaches completion. It’s the private members club and I ask the waitress if we can luncheon here. Not only is the answer resoundingly to the affirmative, but there is some mirth as the kindly waitress even asks if we’d like our veggie burgers rare or medium.

Pre-prandial ablutions beckon and we discover that as a salute to its cheeky Profumo-party heritage, the bubble bath fits two easily. And at a squint I can even make out the statue spot-lit at the end of the drive. Sure, if I were to nitpick I might mention that the yellow paint just above the bath is mottled and chipping but that just adds to the charm of this country house hotel steeped in history, doesn’t it?

Having heard less-than-glowing reports about the award-winning, but pretentious Compleat Angler in Marlow, we decide to stay put at Cliveden and plump for dinner at the garden-view-augmented Terrace Restaurant. As a vegetarian, I understand why most great chefs scoff meat – it’s hard to do gourmet fine dining with root crops alone (and even tougher to charge the same price for Broccoli Tart as Oven Roasted Noisette of Balmoral Estate Venison) – but I admire their determination. We retreat to the sumptuous grand hall in front of the fire, which has been besieged by a raucous wedding party. This stately home certainly makes for good people-watching with a whisky in hand.

Sunday morning comes around too quickly and we pack up our bags in near silence and head out for one last walk through an undiscovered part of this National Trust property’s grounds. Down the 170 steps to the idyllic bend in the Thames, rowing boats are for hire, as is the cottage where the disgraced politician used to stay. On our way back through the crispy Autumn woods we try to find the blessed grotto and fail again.

This standard and quality of living should be savoured by anyone lucky enough to be able to book such a special luxury hotel – even if only for 48 hours. Cliveden House is a place to fall head over heels not just with the wife or mistress, but back in love with life. We watch the vast historical house vanish in our rear-view mirror, and soon we are back on the busy road towards the M4. The music swells, the credits roll, it starts to rain and my windscreen wipers have stopped working. Not quite the Hollywood ending we'd hoped for.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Cliveden's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Cliveden is the perfect place for a getaway. We enjoyed a lovely walk in the National Trust Park, followed by facials of a very high quality in the spa, followed by cream teas in the Great Hall. We then relaxed in our gorgeous room before getting ready for dinner in the Club Room restaurant. It was so relaxing and the staff could not do enough for us. All this was complimented by the fact that our dog was allowed to be with us, meaning we didn't have to worry about where he would stay, and he could enjoy the break with us.

Don’t expect

The stay wasn't cheap, but it was pretty much perfect.

Rating: 10/10 stars