It was a wrench to leave for dinner, but when the culinary expertise of Executive Chef André Garrett (Galvin at Windows now his eponymous residency at Cliveden) is waiting, you don’t dilly dally.
Over a splendid Cliveden 1666 Taittinger cocktail, I explore the evening’s menu from charming restaurant manager Pierre Rizet Mosser. British ingredients take centre stage and I choose from the à la carte over great conversation in this most sophisticated of dining rooms, its generous windows affording beautiful sunset views across the Parterre. A wonderful location for a birthday meal.
I begin with a Parmesan cheese and avocado pate amuse-bouche, followed by Seared Orkney Scallops, a Musquée de Provence pumpkin risotto and tamari-glazed pork belly as a starter. Deliciously flavoured and seared, these succulent beauties are large and sexy with incredible flavours. And, tasting my first pork belly, I’m amazed at how much I like it, especially since I’m mostly a non-meat eater. The salty flavours are delicately balanced – what a creation!
Wine expertly chosen for me by the sommelier is a crisp, fruity New Zealand 2015 Gisborne Albarino, and a perfect match with seafood. A divine line-caught sea bass adorned with Cornish mussels, enoki mushrooms, fregola (Sardinian pasta) and samphire is served next. When this fish reaches my palate I’m in heaven. Such a delicate touch
and more rounded aromas than some Michelin star establishments that I’ve eaten in.
To my regret, I didn’t have room for dessert, but instead, I had coffee and bonbons as a sweet finale. This was one of the best meals and the gorgeous dining rooms I have ever had the pleasure to eat in.
My suite was adjacent to a wonderful roof terrace where stargazing provided a gentle digestif that evening. The moon was full. Life felt good and I welcomed the beginning of another exciting birth year of adventure.
Needing a long walk before breakfast and a good swim, I found the outdoor pool and spa area behind the stone wall. A secret garden the pool was deliciously cool, the perfect starter to a long walk around the grounds as I found the delightful Chapel next to the Parterre.
After a superb swim in the outdoor pool, the next morning, (the spa area and treatment rooms will be the focus of a refurbishment programme later this year) General Manager Sue Williams shows me around the stunning Lady Ascot and Prince of Wales suites – accommodation that has housed royals and presidents. She’s an incredible source of knowledge about Cliveden and its former owners, the Astors, and will hopefully find time to begin her book on Lord Astor. “If I can find the time I’ll start it,” she smiles. Sue has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Astors that deserves sharing with a wider audience.
Duty Manager Oliver Crittenden was also a wonderful host, taking me down to the Thames to visit delightful Spring Cottage. A most private location with its own mooring, this three-bedroomed cottage is available to hire and was once the home to osteopath Stephen Ward who was also embroiled in the Profumo scandal.
Extending my stay by half a day, I wandered into the beautiful grounds before an excellent lunch at the Astor Grill across the courtyard from the main house. The former stable block has been beautifully transformed into a cosy equestrian-themed brasserie with tables in the former stalls where Lord Astor once kept his prized fillies – perfect for a late brunch, early lunch or a relaxed supper.
My half lobster was followed by the most divine rice pudding and Seville orange soufflé served with 12-year-old malt whisky ice cream. My glass of Chapel Down 2010 Blanc de Blanc sparkling English wine was better than some Champagne I’ve tasted. If you come for the food alone, you will leave a raving fan, as I did.
A stay at Cliveden House Hotel will recharge you like no other. Run impeccably by MD Andrew Stembridge and his team, I received superb service from all the genuinely warm and friendly staff, who went out of their way to make me feel welcome and share their love of this beautiful historic home.
The luxurious suites and public rooms, and of course the excellent cuisine from André Garrett make Cliveden a very special retreat, whatever your reason for staying. The perfect venue for a romantic weekend, unforgettable nuptials, birthday celebrations, and even business meetings and conferences, Cliveden is country house living at its very finest and is just 45 minutes from London – I can’t wait to go back.
Cliveden Hotel and Spa – Where and How?
Less than 20 minutes from London Heathrow Airport. Cliveden Hotel and Spa has 38 rooms, including 15 spacious suites, a summerhouse by the Thames, together with boathouse and boats, heated pool, spa and a range of sporting and leisure facilities. The André Garrett Restaurant is complemented by private dining, banqueting and meeting facilities.
Phone: 01628 668 561
Email: [email protected]
Address: Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire, SL6 0JF UK
Rooms start from £450 to £1800 per night.
- Restaurant Opening Times
André Garrett Restaurant
- Afternoon Tea served in the Great Hall
2.30pm – 5pm
- The Astor Grill
All day menu: 12pm-9pm
Shared Champagne cruise each evening April to August: £50 per person for a 45-minute cruise
For further information about The Cliveden Club, please contact the Cliveden Club Office on 01628 607158 or email [email protected]