Nestled in the Surrey Hills just 20 miles from London, this former home of media mogul Lord Beaverbrook has been transformed into a luxury hotel with eighteen individually styled bedrooms and a fine dining Japanese restaurant.
Surrounded by 470 acres of stunning countryside, there’s also eleven additional bedrooms and an Anglo-Italian restaurant in the separate Garden House, The Coach House Spa & Health Club, a cookery school and a kids club.
While many hotels proclaim historical connections, Beaverbrook’s bragging rights are legitimate. Rooms are named after past guests – Elizabeth Taylor, Rudyard Kipling and Ian Fleming – and most famously, Winston Churchill. Lord Beaverbrook was a close friend and Minister to Churchill and the former Prime Minister spent many weekends at his pal’s abode. In fact, during World War II, cabinet meetings were held on the estate.
We were lucky to stay in Churchill’s former bedroom and were giddy with excitement exploring the spacious suite and original features (including Churchill’s desk, bath and loo). Fun fact: the double walk-in shower was built where his secret exit stood. However, the aesthetic doesn’t languish the past, and Susie Atkinson (of Soho House fame) has worked her magic to marry old and new. On trend-touches such as the floral headboard, raffia mirror and Matisse-inspired cushions give it a modern feel.
This theme continued throughout the property, and the interiors strike just the right balance between grand and homely. Alongside the main restaurant, there are plenty of reception rooms to enjoy a glass of Surrey wine or a cup of Earl Grey tea (we did both). The Parrot Bar, with sinkable velvet sofas, blush pink walls and teal bar stools, was our favourite.
Dinner was at The Japanese Grill, dubbed ‘Surrey’s answer to Nobu’ – a valid claim considering Head Chef Taiji Maruyama’s former positions at Nobu in London and Monaco. With so many country house hotels defaulting to a ‘modern British’ menu, it’s refreshing to be treated to a cuisine often reserved for central London restaurants. Plus, as a pescatarian, I was utterly spoilt for choice.
The menu was a little overwhelming so we gratefully took the friendly staff’s recommendations – a decision we didn’t regret. Starter highlights included the popcorn shrimp (the tempura batter was feather light) and the yellowtail tiradito (so delicious I immediately regretted devouring my first bite so quickly). For mains, the top prize was drawn between the scallop tartare sushi rolls and the much-hyped black cod. Despite being stuffed after the mains, we put our dessert stomachs to good use in the name of research. My chocolate pud was heavenly (it’s a cliche but it really did melt in the mouth) while the accommodating team made my dining companion who’d given up refined sugar (terribly poor timing) a plate of exotic fruit.
On Sunday afternoon we sampled the other dining option, the anglo-Italian restaurant in the Garden House. Offering a much cosier and laid-back feel, the restaurant backs on to the house’s vegetable garden and the indoor-outdoor vibe is reflected throughout the decor – think horticulture drawings and a conservatory decked out with plants.
The food was equally excellent and the freshness and delicate flavours continued. We shared a burrata and blood orange salad and smoked salmon tartare to start before the main dishes of sage and pecorino gnocchi and seasonal quail and celeriac.
The decor echoes the house in its colour palette with English garden touches and a beautiful floral glass ceiling designed by architect Brian Clarke. There are all the facilities you might expect including an indoor and outdoor pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, gym and plentiful relaxing areas, our favourite complete with roaring fire and ideal for a robe nap.
I was truly spoilt and sampled both the Honey Facial and a Massage. The former was a holistic treatment that combined facial massage and all-natural products. More relaxing than results-driven, I definitely nodded off at one point. For my massage, the masseuse used a bespoke combination of traditional techniques and stretching exercises to relieve tension and leave me feeling zen.
Who goes there:
When we were there it was a mix of couples and young families. With close proximity to both London and Heathrow/Gatwick, it’s very accessible and definitely had a more international feel than other hotels of this ilk I’ve been lucky to visit.
Non-hotel guests can book for dinner at The Japanese Grill and on Saturday evening it seemed half of Surrey’s elite had turned up in their glad rags for a sushi fix. There was definitely a party atmosphere in the Parrot Bar as we sloped off to bed at a reasonable hour of 11 pm.
The best thing:
The divine interiors and delicious Japanese food.
The worst thing:
The dreaded rain that prevented us from exploring the grounds. I would love to revisit in summer and make the most of the outdoor pool.
The Main House rooms start at £330, The Garden House start at £225; 1-hour treatments start from £130 and 90min Treatment start from £180 – £220 ; Annual Mid-week memberships are available at a cost of £3,000, offering an array of benefits; beaverbrook.co.uk; Reigate Rd, Leatherhead KT22 8QX; 01372 571300