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PERFECT FOR CITY SLICKERS
The lowdown: An oasis of luxury in a quiet corner of Mayfair, The
Connaught opened its doors in 1815 as the grandly named Prince of
Saxe-Coburg Hotel. Following renovations and a change of name during
World War I (when Germanic names fell out of favour) it became a homeaway-from-home
for visiting royalty, dignitaries and celebrities, seduced
by the elegant air of British grandeur that persists today. Designer Ralph
Lauren loved the striking square central staircase in the Edwardian lobby
so much that he had a replica installed in his flagship New York store.
Rooms and suites combine classic elegance and modern luxury, with
original art work and antique furniture beside the latest entertainment
systems; while no request is too much trouble for the charming staff.
Activities to indulge in: The Connaught is a short stroll from the
shopping meccas of Oxford Street and Bond Street, so indulge in a spot
of retail therapy at Selfridge's before heading to the hotel's tranquil
Aman Spa. Treatments include holistic organic facials and reflexology,
or simply relax in the ionised water swimming pool. If all that relaxation
has given you an appetite, seek out two Michelin-starred restaurant
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught for lavish dishes such as foie gras with
cacao powder and gingerbread crumble, or visit pretty Espelette for the
hotel's signature afternoon tea. The super-stylish Connaught Bar features
cutting-edge cocktails and a glamorous Martini trolley; or linger over a
vintage Cognac from the more traditional Coburg Bar's extensive list.
The damage: Superior King rooms from £510; one-bedroom suites £1,410.
Julie Sheppard, managing editor
PERFECT FOR LUXURY
The lowdown: Like something out of a Jane Austen novel, the
charming 17th-century Lucknam Park country house appears at the
end of a long, beech tree-lined drive. The house and its outbuildings
form a beautiful cocoon around immaculate gardens, while genteel
guests take afternoon tea on the terrace. After a tour taking in the
distinguished library and drawing room, it's upstairs to a beautiful,
traditionally decorated suite. The fireplace is currently dormant but
worth noting for winter visits, while the four-poster bed will have
you dreaming of Mr Darcy, or indeed Elizabeth Bennett.
Activities to indulge in: Lucknam Park prides itself on its Spa and
Well-Being House, with sumptuous treatments and yoga classes
all on offer. The extensive 500 acres of surrounding parkland also
make for very pleasant ambling and you can borrow a map to
explore the arboretum and locate the tennis courts. Horse riding
at the Equestrian Centre or a course at the Cookery School is sure
to entertain even the most restless guests. As evening falls, enjoy
dressing in your best for the Michelin-starred restaurant The Park.
Start with a pre-dinner drink on the terrace and you might hear tales
of engagement, or stroll across to the Brasserie for a less formal affair.
The damage: Double rooms from £295 per night, excluding breakfast.
Lucy Britner, staff writer and sub-editor