Hotel review: Hartwell House and Spa, Aylesbury

Hartwell House is one of England’s impressive stately homes, located on the edge of the Chilterns. In September 2008, the hotel was donated to the National Trust to ensure its long-term protection, and it’s clear upon first arrival that Hartwell House certainly has the gravitas of a respected, precious building. If you’re looking for a proper dose of peace, quiet and relaxation, you’re sure to find it here – and that’s before you even get to the spa…

Hartwell House

Hartwell House and Spa hotel review

Rooms and facilities

I couldn’t help but feel like I was starring in an episode of Downton Abbey while staying in Hartwell House, but that’s really no surprise considering its history. In 1809, the building was leased to the exiled King Louis XVIII of France and his court. King Louis remained there until 1814 when the constitutional document, confirming his accession to the throne, was signed in the library by the King.

The 32 rooms in the main building are spacious and comfortable, decorated with rococo ceilings, antique furniture and paintings. Although the place is historic, all of the modern facilities you would expect from a hotel are mostly accounted for. Fear not, the beds are very comfortable, there are plenty of plug sockets and despite its remote location, the wifi is strong.

Hartwell House

The listed building is full of stunning rooms and awe-inspiring decor, but it’s important to remember that its status means there is no air conditioning. The hotel also cannot provide guests with an iron in their rooms, as this is against regulations. However, they do provide an ironing service for an extra charge.

Food and drink

The hotel offers an enjoyable afternoon tea in The Great Hall and Morning Room, where guests can choose to have either prosecco or champagne as well as their tea or coffee. You might feel like you’re about to dine with royalty, especially if you spot the photo of the Queen Mother visiting the hotel on the side table. The savoury sandwich offering was as you’d expect, however the raisin scones were accompanied by others made with chocolate chips, and the patisserie layer included a welcome twist on traditional flavours.

Hartwell House

The dinner menu features a sufficient choice of options for starter, main and dessert, all of which are presented beautifully, of a good portion size, and showcase local produce including ingredients from the hotel’s own kitchen garden. There is plenty of choice for breakfast too – guests can pick a continental option as well as a cooked breakfast, with an accompaniment of toast should they want it. You won’t leave Hartwell House hungry, that’s for sure.

What to do

Hartwell House is set in 94 acres of gardens and parkland, so if the weather holds up, it’s well worth taking a stroll around the grounds. There are a number of paths to follow around the gardens – some winding through the woods for the more adventurous – that will lead you to the tennis courts and other hidden troves.

Hartwell House

If tennis isn’t your game, perhaps a go at croquet on the lawn will suit you better. Or you can head to the spa to try out the mosaic-lined indoor pool, sauna, steam room and gym. You can book spa treatments such as facials, massages, aromatherapy and manicures, but it’s best to do this well in advance (especially if you’re visiting at the weekend) as the spa is also open to non-residents. The friendly staff were able to squeeze me in for a facial just before I left, leaving me in a totally serene state for the journey back to reality.

Best for

Those seeking a peaceful and relaxing break, and history lovers.

Bed and breakfast at Hartwell House is priced from £265 per room per night, including use of the spa. Visit to find out more.