It’s a strange feeling to be just 19 miles out of London and staring into hundreds of acres of South Downs countryside, interrupted only by trees and the occasional undulation of a sloping valley. If you are craving some bracingly fresh air and total tranquillity, make a weekend dash here to the newly-opened Beaverbrook country house hotel. The only problem is, once you get inside, you might struggle to drag yourself out again to enjoy walks through the woods, to the trout-filled lake, or to the in-house cookery school.
Built in the 1860s as Cherkley Court, the house was purchased by Lord Beaverbrook in 1911, who spent 50 years entertaining a storied cast of glamorous friends, the starriest of whom have bedrooms named after them. If you find that Winston Churchill is booked out, bag a night in Wallis Simpson, or, failing that, Ian Fleming. If you’re feeling lavish, request the palatial Dowager Suite, complete with Apple TV, Bamford products, its own apartment-sized bathroom, and a balcony overlooking the gardens. It’s no surprise the rooms are sumptuous: they were decorated by Susie Atkinson (the visionary behind Soho House, Babington House and Dean Street Townhouse), who has filled them with antique fabrics and furniture.
If you can drag yourself back down the sweeping stairs, head to the Parrot Bar. Replete with blue velvet chairs and tasseled lamps, the room has a 1920s feel that lends itself well to more than a couple of pre-dinner drinks. The high point of your evening, though, happens in the dining room, where ex-Nobu chef Taiji Maruyama produces plates of Japanese fare, much of which is sourced from the kitchen garden. The next stage of the hotel’s expansion is the opening of the Coach House Cottages and Spa early next year. Offering pools both inside and out, as well as a steam room and sauna, it promises total immersion.
Beaverbrook, Reigate Road, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 8QX; +44 (0)1372 571300