Lord Beaverbrook was a connected sort. As owner of the Daily Express newspaper, he wooed the world’s luminaries at his fanciful wedding-cake of a home, set within the resplendent Surrey Hills. Now transformed into a lavish hotel, Grade-II-listed Beaverbrook has stories to tell. Rooms nod to past guests – Elizabeth Taylor, Rudyard Kipling and Ian Fleming all stayed here – and as a minister to Winston Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook also hosted key wartime conclaves here. And yet, it doesn’t languish in the past: interiors are by Susie Atkinson, of Soho House fame, and the Japanese restaurant is run by an ex-Nobu chef.
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A bottle of Beaverbrook Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine
29, divided between the House and the Garden House, including three suites.
11am; check-in 3pm. Flexible, but subject to availability. A luggage-storage room is available.
Double rooms from £430.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast, with Continental, English and à la carte options available. The Asian-style Dining Room serves Japanese omelettes with daikon, while the Garden House Restaurant has bacon sandwiches on rustic campaillou bread.
The Garden House Restaurant has a School of Cookery attached for budding chefs, with sessions for children and adults. Pick ingredients from the hotel's kitchen-garden, then learn to rustle 'Britalian' dishes with head chef Kaz Suzuki or sushi with ex-Nobu chef Taiji Maruyama. Afternoon tea is served every day from 3pm to 5pm (from 3:30pm on the weekend).
At the hotel
Library, lounge, screening room, events space, kids’ club, free WiFi, 400-acre grounds, a walled kitchen-garden, woodlands, a trout-filled lake. In rooms: fireplaces, a minimum of king-size beds or larger, flatscreen Apple TV, free Sipsmith Sloe gin, minibar, free bottled water, coffee machine, Bamford toiletries, ensuite underfloor heating, robes, slippers.
Our favourite rooms
We love the Superior Turret rooms tucked up in the eaves of the House, with a private terrace and views over the Surrey Hills. For south-facing woodland views, choose the Guest Garden House rooms, painted in bucolic shades and dressed with botanical prints, that mirror the surrounding English countryside. Ensuite bathrooms feature roll-top baths and showers come clad in glossy green tiles. On the landing, a drinks station has tea, coffee and two whisky decanters, primed for a nightcap.
The spa has a 20-metre-long indoor pool, plus there's a summer-ready outdoor pool and a special pool for kids.
The flower-filled Coach House Spa is designed by glass architect Brian Clarke and inspired by the English countryside. There are six treatment suites, a steam room, a relaxation room, sauna, hammam, indoor and outdoor pools. Take your pick of tailored massages, exfoliating body treatments and honey-infused facials – all use home-branded Coach House oils made from plants, flowers and fruits from the estate. There’s also a nail lounge and treatments designed specifically for Mr Smiths and mums-to-be. After your pampering sessions, have a leisurely snack of wood-fired flatbreads in the on-site Deli. Craving a boost of endorphins? The gym is kitted out with cardio machines, free weights and space to stretch. There’s also a rotating mix of fitness, yoga and Pilates sessions on offer.
People don’t dress up in the country – it’s all about cosy jumpers and comfortable jeans here. Even Elizabeth Taylor took the weekend off at Beaverbrook. Though, it is worth taking something to meet the smart-causal dress code at the Dining Room for dinner – shorts, flip flops and tshirts are not allowed.
Don’t miss the afternoon tea on the terrace or sofa-filled lounge. Freshly made sandwiches, Sacher torte and home-baked scones are available from Thursday to Friday (3pm-5.30pm) and at weekends (3.30pm-5.30pm).
This country-house hotel warmly welcomes four-legged friends and bowls will be provided. Dogs aren't allowed in the Main House, but are welcome in certain parts of the Garden House and Garden House Cottage. See more pet-friendly hotels in Surrey.
All ages are warmly welcomed. As well as a weekend kids’ club for 5-12 year olds and resident Sharky and George minders, there’s an outdoor play area with a treehouse and reams of child-friendly activities. Extra beds can be added from £60 a night.
Absolutely all ages: this is an all-action family hotel that caters for kids as much as adults.
The two interconnecting Guest Garden House rooms are best for families.
From crazy golf to geocaching, treasure hunts, night safaris and den building, the kids’ club has plenty to keep 5-12 year olds busy, plus resident minders Sharky and George to ensure grown ups can work their way through the wine list (cheers to that). Open on Saturdays and Sundays, it offers full day (10:30am–3pm) or half-day sessions (10am–1pm or 2pm – 5pm). The excursions list also extends to horse-riding, cycling and foraging, and there are board games, books and puzzles for rainy days.
Child-friendly options are available in the Garden Kitchen, from buttermilk pancakes at breakfast to Bolognese linguini and organic chocolate brownies at lunch and dinner.
No need to pack
Children's books, pens, pencils, paints and paper… they’re all available.
An outdoor play area is the stuff of Enid Blyton with a treehouse tucked in the woods.
The sun-warmed conservatory is the best spot in the Garden House Restaurant, with its period-style windows overlooking the grounds. In the Dining Room, snuggle up on the two-seater, olive-green banquettes, set beneath double-height corniced ceilings.
Cosy cashmere jumpers and well-worn jeans in the Garden House Restaurant. In the Dining Room, evening wear from Surrey-based boutique Feather & Stitch and sky-high heels (optional for men).
Food is one of the highlights of Beaverbrook and much care and attention has been given to its two main restaurants. In the Garden House, the Anglo-Italian Garden House Restaurant, run by chef Kaz Suzuki, has views of the grounds and cosy, cushion-stacked chairs that invite you to linger for a menu of gnoccillini with goat’s cheese and pistachio, and open ravioli with crab and squid-ink pasta. If you’re feeling hungry, the ‘Chef’s Table’ tasting menu skips through Sardinian flatbreads, Ligurian bull’s heart tomato salads with burrata, Cornish blue lobster and Calvados-infused apple tarts. In the House, the Dining Room is the more formal option, with an Japanese menu devised by ex-Nobu chef, Taiji Maruyama. The Omakase appetiser let’s you eat your way through the chef’s favourite starters and multi-course menus guide you through a range of other highlights. Prefer to go it alone? Choose from thinly sliced yellowtail tiraditos, popcorn shrimp tempura or ‘the Beaverbrook’ sushi platter.
One of the high points of Susie Atkinson’s design is the Twenties-style Sir Frank's bar. The walls are adorned with over 250 prints by the remarkable Victorian artist and explorer Marianne North, all depicting her far-flung travels (there's also a whole gallery devoted to her bright botanical prints at Kew Gardens). Equally exotic is the drinks menu, with swoops through artisan cocktails, such as the matcha-tea-infused Pacific Pisco Sour and the signature Spitfire Collins, concocted with Sipsmith vodka and peach liqueur. Snacks of Japanese tacos, edamame and caviar are served in the bar from 6pm to 10pm and you’ll also find an honesty bar in the Garden House.
Breakfast is 7am-10.30am (from 7.30am at weekends). The Dining Room serves lunch (Tuesday to Friday, noon-3pm; weekends 12.30pm-3.30pm) and dinner (Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm-10pm). The all-day Garden House Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You can order upstairs to your room anytime between 7.30am and 10pm from dishes including chicken sandwiches with tarragon mayo, asparagus with poached egg or fillet of Loch Duart salmon, with salad from the kitchen-garden and dill-infused mayonnaise.
Set in the Surrey Hills, a short spin away from the cyclists’ summit of Box Hill, Beaverbrook stands enveloped by English countryside. The views couldn't be greener, the landscape more bucolic – and yet, just outside London, it's anything but far-flung.
Two of the UK’s busiest airports are a 30-minute drive away: Gatwick to the south; Heathrow to the north.
A 10-minute drive from the hotel, Leatherhead station is serviced by regular Southern and South Western connections.
A car is great asset in the English countryside, enabling you reach tucked-away walking points and village pubs. However, at only an hour from central London (and well connected to other parts of the country), you could easily do without. There's free valet parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
You’re cordially invited to a weekend in the country… get ready to do as much or as little as you want. The 400-acre estate surrounding Beaverbrook is primed for outdoor pursuits, from rambling in the woods to horticultural tours with the head gardener and cycling on free-to-use bicycles. Travelling with a civilised set of 10 or more? Clay-pigeon shooting can be arranged on request. You can explore on four legs or two wheels, with horseriding and mountain-biking, or unearth the season’s bounty with guided foraging tours. Further afield, the steep climbs of Box Hill entice cyclists and there’s walking, running and riding in the Surrey Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In spring or autumn, a trip to Winkworth Arboretum is particularly rewarding, while the village of Chiddingfold is regarded as one of England’s loveliest, with a handful of pubs and restaurants scattered around an idyllic green. Extensive eating and shopping options are available in Guildford and Godalming, but smart Chobham is the choice for quaint pubs and boutiques.
If you’re keen on drinking in rural England’s best pubs, you’ve come to the right place. The upmarket town of Chobham has several superlative options, from the fire-warmed, gastro-style Four Horseshoes to smart Stovell's, which has won four AA rosettes under chef Fernando Stovell and sits within a 16th-century Tudor farmhouse. In nearby Cobham – the ritzier big sister to Chobham, 12 miles away – The Plough and The Cricketers are two contemporary takes on the English classic. Several pubs provide end (or starting) points for walks up to Leith Hill – the highest point in the Surrey Hills – including traditional coaching inn, the Abinger Hatch, cosy Volunteer Inn and secluded Stephan Langton Inn. A five-minute drive from Beaverbrook, you’ll find The Cock Inn, with an outdoor beer garden, eye-catching interiors and hearty food. Finally, drive over to the pretty village of Chiddingfold to rub shoulders with locals at The Swan. For a high-end meal, book in advance at the Clock House, run by chef Fred Clapperton, within a handsome Georgian townhouse in the village of Ripley. In Dorking, chef Steve Drake heads up lauded eatery Sorrel, having trained under the Roux family and Marco Pierre White.
Cyclists and walkers in search of a good cuppa and slab of cake are spoilt of choice in this swathe of Surrey. You can get afternoon tea at Treacle’s Tea Shop in Chiddingfold or stock up on local produce at The Dorking Deli. The pretty village of Shere is a good post-walk stop in the Surrey Hills, with The Dabbling Duck providing a lovely, willow-draped patio, daytime refreshments and a refined take on afternoon tea. In the same village as the Clock House, Nest combines a café and antiques shop on Ripley’s high street.
For a man that has worked for 36 years in London’s West End, it is with complete joy that luxury hotel Beaverbrook is only 19 miles from Piccadilly Circus. Ideal really, because it means I can go to this haven of tranquility with Mrs Smith for a well-deserved mid-week break without any long-slog journeys.
Hulking, Grade-II-listed stately home Beaverbrook is set on a 400-acre estate at the edge of Box Hill in Surrey. It was once the residence of Max Aitken, aka Baron Beaverbrook. A kingmaker and power broker, Max hosted the good and the great here, from Chaplin to Churchill, Kipling to Taylor, they all came. Now this former den of grandeur has been restored to its former glory, with the interiors of the French-style mansion given a sympathetic modern makeover by formidable designer Susie Atkinson.
The hotel’s sense of noble tranquility is felt on arrival, as the mile-long driveway threads through the foot of the South Downs offering soul-soothing country views. At the entrance, we are immediately greeted by a man who introduces himself as Mark, who looks like he’s time-travelled straight from the roaring 1920’s. He guides us to reception. Check-in was super easy and a delightful experience, we're told we're in the Somerset Maugham Turret Room and while our luggage is being taken care of we're offered a tour of the downstairs.
We are shown the first privately-owned cinema in England, which has been restored to its former Art Deco splendour. When it's not in use, you can do as we did and just go in to watch one of your favorite Netflix shows. The Walking Dead takes on a whole new meaning. If there’s one hotel you don’t want to have to use a lift in, it’s this one; as you glide up the stairs, passing the incredible centerpiece tapestry by Brian Clarke, you can’t help but feel that you’ve truly arrived. There’s the Liz Taylor Suite to your left and the Kennedys to your right and, after one more short flight, we’re in our room. It’s gorgeous, with views from the balcony across the beautifully manicured grounds to the South Downs where the sun is just starting to set. There is everything you need, including some free sloe gin and soft drinks in the minibar. This is not a room to work in or even read an email, it’s for sitting, breathing and relaxing in.
Excited to see the Coach House Spa before dinner, we headed downstairs – again wowed by the staircase – and are greeted by a charming man called Tom who guides us past the elegant Parrot Bar towards the spa. You also stroll past the kitchens, through a spectacular hallway, as if you are Lord and Lady of the manor. Interesting to note: staff have a variety of uniforms, but are easy to spot as they all have silver Spitfires adorned to their lapels or jumpers. This is a big nod to Baron Beaverbrook’s son Max, who fought in the Battle of Britain as a Spitfire pilot. There is also a set of paintings of planes by Brian Clarke. Anyways, back to the spa. It’s a design triumph – Brian Clarke has created his famous stained-glasses and intricate tile-work everywhere. It’s amazing, totally unique and yet incredibly relaxing. The space has the very best of everything – a steam room, sauna, hammam, two pools… And massages are tailored to your needs, too. Mrs Smith and I had an incredible two-hour pampering session, and we practically had the place to ourselves – the hotel has just 29 rooms, so you often feel as if you’re the only ones staying.
In a soporific state, we headed back to the room to change for dinner. We would be dining at the hotel’s less formal restaurant, which is a short golf-cart ride away up the drive, next to the cookery school and kitchen garden. My advice is to book a table by the fire, or as close as you can get, as it’s the cosiest spot. Service is slick and the food is delicious; I highly recommend the beef carpaccio, crispy-duck salad and the pork belly. The next morning, after a fabulous night’s sleep we head down for breakfast. Tom greeted us in yet another outfit, this time much more casual and befitting of the early hour. He was so charming, we were thrilled to see him again. Breakfast is again faultless, with some of the best sausages ever served to man.
After brekkie we decided to go on one of the many walks around the estate. It’s such a peaceful green patch that there are few reminders of what lays outside. Our walk is followed by lunch at the Coach House Deli in the spa complex. The chicken broth is a deliciously dark consommé with tender chicken chunks and sweetcorn. It’s a must-try and you can even takeaway if you’d rather dine in-room. And you needn’t order drinks here – pitchers of delicious elderflower water with mint and lemon are given free. We went back to the spa for another two hours of swimming, steaming and bubbling away in the Jacuzzi and sauna. I absolutely fell in love with this place and in its half-Olympic-size indoor pool you can have a proper swim, although it was too cold to use the outdoor pool.
On the way back to our room I notice a beautiful Jean Cocteau stained-glass by the study – another luminary former guest we’ve discovered. Before dinner we sample one of the sake martini’s in the Parrot Bar, a powder-puff-pink space with teal-velvet seating that’s been fashioned to reflect its former glory. You could picture Liz and Charlie and all the other infamous guests clinking cocktails while perched on the bar stools. Dinner is in the Japanese Grill and we have the eight-course menu as part of our package, and – whether it was a good idea or not – we’d opted for the eight-course drinks to go with it. This included a discombobulating six glasses of wine and two quarter bottles of sake each. The food is as good you would expect from any London-based Michelin-starred eatery.
We didn’t make it back to the bar as we had promised Joe the bartender. After our gamut of drinks, we just about managed it upstairs. But even in our foggy heads, one thing was clear: I love Beaverbrook, with its precise attention to detail and fabulous staff, and can’t wait to go back.