THE house you see today is only the third property to have been built on this ridge overlooking the Thames and the Chiltern hills, although evidence of a 4,000-year-old settlement is preserved in the 65-acre grounds, and the present-day building was completed in 1901 by the heir to the Sunlight soap fortune.
So at times a luxurious family home (in the Second World War it housed the Intelligence Section of the RAF, known as the Hellfire Club, who one night piled up every table and chair in the Grand Hall and left a footprint on the ceiling), a corporate HQ and now a hotel.
The extravagant style was the Edwardian version of Italian Renaissance, and the huge white building with its crenellations, towers and terraces, its interior grand hall and many beautiful ceilings, coupled with stunning views, is the perfect setting for the celebration of a wedding.
Presumably this is why George Clooney and the new Mrs Amal Clooney chose it as the English venue for guests who didn’t make the Venice wedding.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Neither, this is a grand hotel, as you realise when you sweep in under the clock tower arch to the main door. Prices range from £127 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast, to something in the region of £800 for bed and breakfast in one of the newer suites.
There are 65 rooms and suites, with a new wing being added shortly, and the rooms in the main house, including the tower suite occupied by Mr & Mrs Clooney, are traditional English country house in style. So if you want a four poster, you can have it, whereas the new rooms and suites have a more cool, modern decor. All are spacious and bathrooms have endless marble and Aromatherapy Associates toiletries.
WINING AND DINING
We stayed just a day after Mr & Mrs C, and the staff, while discreet, were still excited at the “great party”, which I am told finished some time after 5am. This may have been thanks to the exclusive cocktails created in the bar: George, a mix of tequila, citron vodka, lime juice and ginger ale; and Amal, vanilla vodka, passion fruit liqueur, and lime juice. We tried one of each and they were so light and refreshing, they barely registered as alcohol.
Then dinner, and the Michelin-starred Oak Room restaurant, with another magnificent ceiling and fireplace, where we ate a lobster, tomato and coriander linguine, followed by a tender rump of lamb and baked brill with shrimp butter; and to finish a rich chocolate tart with marinated cherries. The hotel’s afternoon tea, taken in the Orangery restaurant, overlooking the terraces and gardens, is popular and not calorie free, but delicious.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
There is a nearby 18-hole golf course, Harleyford, with various golf packages available, and Marlow is a prosperous small town, which supports many boutiques and cafes, and was once home to Mary Shelley as she finished Frankenstein. In the other direction is Henley, with its River & Rowing Museum, where the hotel can arrange an “Edwardian” class launch, either chauffeured or self-drive, with a picnic, for a trip down the Thames. Also nearby are Windsor Castle, Legoland and Ascot racecourse.
A big extra is entry to the Illuminata Spa in the grounds, with its 20-metre indoor pool and treatment rooms with Aromatherapy Associates products included. Little extra: following in the footsteps of Mr & Mrs C?
Danesfield House Hotel, Henley Road, Marlow-on-Thames, Buckinghamshire SL7 2EY, 01628 891010, www.danesfieldhouse.co.uk. Danesfield is 35 minutes from Heathrow Airport with regular flights from Edinburgh by BA and Virgin Atlantic