Cliveden house hotel review with video- a festive and cozy Christmas stay in a grand dame hotel

UK Hotels

Cliveden House Hotel was a last minute booking in mid November for a stay between Christmas and the New Year and we were lucky to find availability. When Heckfield Place told us that the spa – which was scheduled to open in November – was delayed, we had to find another hotel for our now usual in between Xmas stay so jumped at the chance.

Cliveden House Hotel Details

Cliveden House hotel- a luxury escape near London

Location 4.5/5

If you want a luxury escape without travelling too far and you live in London, then Cliveden House Hotel is very handy. It took us only 40 minutes to drive from our home in South West London. Flying from abroad and landing at Heathrow will get you even closer to it.

It still feels like being the countryside though as there are huge grounds and the approach is via small roads and one or two quaint villages. The drive in via the long road towards the main house is quite majestic.

Cliveden is actually within a National Trust estate so that means you can enjoy many long walks in the countryside. It also brings of course lots of people who are not staying at the hotel and that removes that sense of exclusivity that you have in other 5 stars hotels.

A classic grande dame perfect for the festive season

Style 4/5

This is a grand dame, a classic massive house which has retained that air of haute luxury. It is imposing but not intimidating.

You walk into the Great Hall which is stunning with its walls and ceilings covered in wooden panels that have been carefully restored a few years ago. The hall was decorated with a big Christmas tree and garlands and lights when we came. It made it feel so cozy. The abundance of sofas and chairs and dim lights, the piano and the imposing fireplace certainly would keep it that way out of the festive season.

A full Cliveden House hotel review with information about the restaurant famous for the Cliveden House afternoon tea, the Cliveden House spa and of course the rooms.

The great hall was busy when we arrived as it was full of people enjoying afternoon tea. It does feel very good to have it to yourself when all those visitors leave at the end of the day.

We really appreciated this style for the festive period: the attention to christmas decorations, the red lightings, lush fabrics, deep seats and sofas created this warm christmassy cocoon. I am not sure if it wouldn’t be too classic for us in the summer though.

When it comes to the bedrooms, my advice is to embrace the style of the house and to go for one of the classically decorated rooms. We had two rooms: Mademoiselle stayed in a Master Deluxe while we stayed in a Mansion suite. I thought the Deluxe room was better value: the space was nearly as big as ours and the style was unashamedly classic with a four poster bed, elaborate curtains and antique furniture. It does look at the entrance though so not the best views.

Our suite had fabulous views of the gardens and we enjoyed seeing the sun rise or the sunset fall over them from it. I even saw red kits in the morning!

The decor didn’t have much style or charm, you can see what I mean in my video. I preferred Mademoiselle’s room. However the very comfortable bed, the marble bathroom and the very nice smell of Asprey products certainly gave us the sense of luxury we were after. Plus, we had a portrait of Christine Keeler in the room!

Both roms had a fireplace where fire could be lit if you asked. We happened to be there at a relatively mild weather time so didn’t request it.

Cliveden house hotel for kids: all welcome

Families 4.5/5

Kids under 16 stay free in their parents room during holidays which is really unusual and very welcome for a hotel of this calibre. We didn’t realise until too late so Mademoiselle had her own room which I made sure that she realised was quite a treat!

Children are welcome and they can give ideas of activities. There are board games to borrow as well.

There are times for them at the indoor pool if they are under 16. We thankfully were welcomed by a smart manager who looked at Mademoiselle – 14 at the time, and said with a wink she could go at any time and “was 16”!

A full Cliveden House hotel review with pictures showing the restaurant and great hall for the famous Cliveden House tea, the Cliveden House spa, the gardens and of course the rooms.

There are no limits for the outdoor pool which is heated all year round and we saw several children enjoying it.

Both restaurants offer a kids menu as well with all the staples that children would enjoy.

We saw many families with children of all ages so clearly you’ll be very welcome if you come with them.

Cliveden house restaurant: maybe not what we expected.

Food 3/5

This is probably the area where Cliveden lacks the most. For a hotel of this calibre, it’s surprising that they don’t invest in a headline chef or strive to get higher in the Michelin category. Food was good but nothing special.

We ate at both the Astor Grill and at the Dining Room. The Astor Grill has a fun setting in the former stables. They serve pub fare, burgers, pizzas, pasta etc.. which is well done and in big portions. I really enjoyed my burger with blue cheese although had a bit of a food poisoning overnight… Mademoiselle also had a burger and was fine so I’m not too sure what caused mine.

A full Cliveden House hotel review with information about the restaurant famous for the Cliveden House afternoon tea, the Cliveden House spa and of course the rooms.

The Dining room is focusing on more elegant food. The room, which is stunning during the day and a good setting for the breakfast and afternoon tea with the tall windows overlooking the gardens, lacked atmosphere in the evening. It was probably not helped by the fact that they have to space out the tables due to Covid.

The menu offers a very classic list of dishes well executed and beautifully presented if not very original. Fish was a bit overcooked and the side vegetables and sauce could have been hotter. The best thing is the end of the meal with a fabulous cheese trolley which has different drawers and seemed from the 1920’s and a treats trolley offering truffles, chocolates, sweets.

The mornings saw the return of the breakfast buffet! After two years of Covid killing it, it was so good to walk around the table and imagine the possibilities between a healthy or an indulgent breakfast! Lots to choose from and you can also order hot dishes. It was set in an an adjacent room to the dining room beautiful with its golden panels which, I was told, were a gift from France to Lady Astor.

A legendary outdoor pool and the spa are only some of the activities you can enjoy at Cliveden House hotel

Activities 4/5

Of course first of all, you should go for a walk in the gardens and the woods around the estate. You can choose different distance and be advised by reception on the ones that suit you most.

A full Cliveden House hotel review with information about the restaurant famous for the Cliveden House afternoon tea, the Cliveden House spa and of course the rooms.

Back at the hotel, relaxing with a book in the residents only lounge is very nice. It’s just next to the great hall but all guest visitors can’t stay there so it’s a bit of a refuge. It also has those big windows looking out to the gardens.

Of course, the spa is a main draw. The outdoor pool is famous for being the location of the Profumo affair. It’s a good size and is heated all year round. There are two jacuzzis on its side where you can chat the time away even though the overlooking tower chimes every 15 minutes.

Indoor the pool is also heated and a good size for swimming. There are not many chairs by it but you can also go to the nearby room where there are more. Mr Bigg was delighted that both a steam and sauna could be enjoyed.

Mr Big and myself had a massage by two excellent therapists. The spa changing rooms, treatment rooms and common areas could benefit for a bit of touch up to bring them up to date with current design trends but there is no denying that it is a nice space.

Cliveden House review – my verdict

Overall 4/5

We really enjoyed our stay at Cliveden House. Every time we were going for a walk there, I always wondered how it was like to stay and was not disappointed. The weeks around Christmas and New Year are the best times to go in my view as the festive spirit and decoration really suit the classic style of the House.

As we were leaving on New Year’s Eve, we saw many people arriving for the New Year’s package which includes afternoon tea, black tie diner with live band and New Year’s brunch. It has a sense of elegance that would be fun to enjoy and I’ve already started to talk to friends about doing this together in a few years when the kids are gone with their Uni friends!

Watch the Cliveden House Hotel tour

Cliveden House video tour

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