Plush Tudor manor in rolling Northamptonshire
STANDING IN 2,000 ACRES of rolling parkland complete with lakes and grazing sheep, Fawsley Hall could have come straight from the lavish set of a Merchant Ivory film
Out in the shires amongst spires and squires, it oozes baronial pedigree
. Queen Elizabeth I reputedly slumbered here, while Capability Brown landscaped these sweeping grounds. The estate was one of the great houses of the 16th century, and home to the Knightley family for 500 years. Now a plush country house hotel with Tudor, Georgian and Victorian wings, Fawsley Hall bills itself as a place of affordable excess.
Centrepiece of the mansion is the vaulted, 500 year old Great Hall, with its soaring cathedral like ceiling. Despite such lofty proportions it manages to be both awesome and cossetting, with plenty of deep sofas, fat candles, and crackling fires.
We were greeted with flickering flames and plenty of sofas to plonk ourselves into, with all the latest mags and papers to dip into.
Hit the spot
In rolling Northamptonshire countryside east of Banbury.
Splash out on the four postered 1575 suite (plush, plush, plus) or pick a room in the Georgian wing.
It's a great setting for tying the knot – so a favourite with brides and grooms.
Regal living in the Midshires.
Bedrooms beckon in sumptuous classic-modern style
. All are styled in keeping with the surrounds, and care has been taken to retain elegant period features
, while adding all the creature comforts today’s Elizabethans expect. Some in the newer wings are split-level, while all have individual furnishings and decor.
Our bedroom (Room 5) was done out in blues and creams, with a giant four-poster in the middle and a huge walk-in wardrobe big enough for a film star's trunk. The views could have been straight from a painting – lawns, meadows, a stream and a little church beyond with sheep grazing. And of course a bath plenty big enough for the two of us.
For the full Fawsley experience you might want to bed down in lavish room 1575, the Elizabeth suite – named after the year the great queen stayed. From the ancient exposed stonework and mullioned windows to the tapestries, Tudor oak furniture and huge seven foot wide four poster dressed in Frette linen
, it’s every bit as regal today.
Good Queen Bess might have been taken aback by the huge widescreen plasma TV by the bed for decadent late-night movie watching, but she would certainly have approved of the raised freestanding bath, huge open fireplace, brass chandeliers and plush deep sofas
– not to mention bucolic country views.
Fawsley Hall's mix of stately setting, gorgeous grounds and queenly comforts
makes it a favourite spot for tying the knot. Future brides often book into this handsome rural escape for some pampering before the big day, as well as the honeymoon night
. There was a wedding party there on the night of our stay, which gave the place a pleasing buzz.
Two restaurants – Equilibrium, with its inventive British menus, and informal Bess's Brasserrie – await. Should you tire of the high life, there’s a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna in the Georgian cellar, a jogging trail and tennis courts
(with even a personal trainer on call) to keep you in trim. We opted for ultra-relaxing massage each, which was just the ticket.
Fawsley Hall was reviewed for Room for Romance by Jemma Tabraham
Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.
Traditional Tudor surroundings are matched by modern pistachio green fabrics and well chosen prints in Equilibrium, Fawsley Hall’s high-end restaurant. Linen-dressed tables are nicely spaced for intimacy.
There’s a continental touch to head chef Nigel Godwin’s inventive British dishes – he loves the cooking at Santi Santamaria at Can Fabes, near Barcelona. Try his signature pigeon served in its broth with apple, celeriac and hazelnuts
, or slow roasted pig’s cheek with rhubarb and chicory. For informal dining, you can opt for Bess’s Brasserie.
The Windmill in Badby, a few miles away, is a great traditional thatched country pub complete with log fires and stone-flagged floors.
Equilibrium at Fawsley Hall
Skye scallops, Cornish crab or Appletree Farm rare breed beef with shallot textures. Follow up with bitter chocolate souffle served with avocado icecream.
Dress the part
There’s no dress code – dress to please yourselves.
In the Old Kitchen with views of the Tudor courtyard.
See & Do
Northamptonshire’s crop of stately homes includes Althorp Park, home of the Spencer family and Princess Diana’s final resting place. There’s an exhibition here full of memorabilia from her life, and extensive grounds to stroll through. Other famous houses within easy reach are fabulous Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Woburn Abbey and Sulgrave Manor. Coton Manor’s ten acre gardens include a bluebell wood and plant nursery.
Head to Silverstone racetrack for some Formula 1 excitement, strike out for the golf course at nearby Hellidon Lakes, or go punting on the river in Oxford. If you still have energy to burn off, head for Fawsley Hall’s all weather tennis court or fully fitted gym. Borrow a croquet set or follow one of the walkways through the grounds, with their arbours and secluded benches.
If shopping’s your scene, check out the rails of designer bargains at Bicester Village Outlet Shopping (50 minutes) or Factory Shoe Outlets.
Fawsley Hall's swish new spa boasts a 17m pool, saunarium and steam room, an outdoor all-ozone hydropool, private garden, Nautilus gym, chillout area and six treatment rooms. Choose from an array of treatments and pamper packages, from a menu including full-body massage, hot stone therapy, rose hydrating cocoon body wrap and Carita firming facials.
Have a chaser by the fireplace in the Great Hall or in the bar. There are regular weekend cinema nights, so you can catch a movie before or after dinner.
Head to Silverstone for thrills and spills on the tarmac at the British Grand Prix.
Get all shopped out at Althorp’s Christmas craft fair.
Fawsley, Northamptonshire NN11 3BA
There is free guest parking. Don't forget the satnav, so you don't take the wrong country road.
Northampton or Rugby stations – 15 miles. There are regular rail services from London Euston.
GBP 50 from Birmingham Airport.
Birmingham International – 45 minutes; Luton – one hour; or London Heathrow – 90 minutes. There is a helipad in the hotel grounds.
Rooms and suites
52 rooms and suites
You’ll find huge beds with Frette linen sheets, a flatscreen TV and DVD/CD player, minibar and wi-fi. Trendy bathrooms come with robes and power showers. Velvety sofas, oil paintings, old beams and antiques add a special vibe to the signature rooms.
There’s a helipad to arrive in style, a spa with treatment menu, gym, all-weather tennis court and jogging trail, plus a DVD library.
GBP 175 – 450
Open all year
11 am. Late afternoon checkouts are possible by arrangement.
Minimum night stay?
Full breakfast is served until 10am.
Available 24 hours.
Welcome, though there are no special facilities.
Welcome if well behaved and not left unattended in the room.
Yes – it’s a popular choice for weddings. Up to 120 guests can be catered for, and exclusive use if not a requirement.