Hotel Review: Beaverbrook, SurreyLuxury Explorer
Set in the heart of the Surrey Hills, this spectacular country house was once the home of Lord Beaverbrook, the mischievous press baron who was a minister to Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill holidayed here, alongside illustrious other guests like Elizabeth Taylor, Rudyard Kipling and Ian Fleming, all of whom have bedrooms named in their honour. Designed by interiors guru Susie Atkinson (of Soho House fame), and featuring a superb Japanese restaurant, this is a stylish and opulent escape with the joy of Lord Beaverbrook’s bygone hedonism apparent throughout.
Escape to the country
Beaverbrook is a late Victorian neo-classical mansion set in a 400 acre estate, in the heart of the rolling Surrey Hills. It offers uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside, and a sense of complete tranquility – yet it is only a 40 minute train ride from central London. The local area is popular for its country walks, cycling, golfing and quintessentially pretty English villages.
Stories to tell
Beaverbrook is so much more than a country house hotel. It oozes flair, character and history. Stepping through its doors and into the light-filled domed atrium at its heart, with paintings of Spitfires and with upbeat swing jazz playing in the background, it feels that this house has stories to tell.
With just 18 suites in the main house, Beaverbrook feels boutique. Having seen all of the bedrooms, each room is extremely individual, all with immense character, making it hard to pick a favourite. History buffs will love the ‘Churchill’ room, which features his original sink, an antique loo and the desk where he used to paint (though it lacks in views at the back of the house). Book worms will love ‘Rudyard Kipling’ with framed extracts of his writing displayed on the walls. The ‘superior turret rooms’ in the eaves of the house have exclusive large private terraces that overlook the spectacular grounds. I stayed in ‘Elizabeth Taylor’, a charming, spacious and sensual celebration of the actress and her love story with Richard Burton. With pastel interiors, and portraits of the actress around the room, the room exudes romance with a vast four poster, sofa and balcony overlooking a formal garden.
All the bathrooms here are delightful – really the epitome of luxury. ‘Elizabeth Taylor’ has a double shower (for Liz and Richard), and a freestanding bath looking out onto the grounds.
If you’re looking for the all out showstopper, then book the ‘Dowager suite’. Larger than most London apartments, this suite features an enormous four poster bed, comfy sofas, spectacular views over the east facing balcony, and a dramatic bathroom with an egg-shaped bath facing the sash windows looking onto the grounds.
All rooms have flatscreen Apple TVs, Bamford toiletries, a complimentary bottle of Sipsmith gin, and underfloor heating. Whichever room you pick, it will feature quirky and memorable features that have been carefully curated. Experiencing the house’s design really feels like an experience in itself.
Downstairs is the bright and cosy sitting room, a lovely spot for reading the papers and a cup of tea. The library is steeped in history, lined from top to bottom with old books of all shapes and sizes, with a cosy fire at its heart. The cinema, considered the first of its kind in the UK, can be booked for screenings free of charge. It was used by Churchill to catch up on Pathe newsreels, and features beautiful Art Deco panelling and lighting.
The Parrot Bar
The piece de resistance of Beaverbrook, though, is the Parrot Bar. Taking its name from the original parrot mural above the bar, and with doors opening out onto a sweeping countryside vista, this is a haven of tropical decadence, with printed silk and palm print tassel lampshades, velvet sofas and stools, and brass fittings. The bar offers excellent bespoke cocktails as well as Japanese-inspired snacks – a taste of what’s to come in The Dining Room.
The Dining Room is a fabulous Japanese restaurant, with a menu devised by ex-Nobu chef Taiji Maruyama. It’s got a waiting list of months, but if you’re staying at the House you can bypass the queue. I loved the popcorn shrimp, sushi and sashimi platter, and the black cod. The food tastes wonderfully fresh as there is an emphasis on sourcing ingredients from the estate’s garden, where possible.
Take a stroll (or a golf buggy) through the grounds to reach the Garden House, another part of the hotel with a selection of bedrooms and an additional lovely restaurant. Overlooking the hotel’s kitchen garden, it offers Anglo-Italian cuisine and has a relaxed and airy ambience. The sage and ricotta gnocchi and juicy scallops are some of many menu highlights. The Garden House is also home to a cooking school.
There’s more to come here at Beaverbrook. At the end of August the Coach House Spa will be opening, designed by the renowned glass architect Brian Clark. It will have six treatment rooms, using homemade oils from the plants, fruits and flowers of the estate, as well as a sauna and steam room, hammam, indoor-outdoor pool and gym, and onsite deli. An excellent excuse to return.