Famously where the Duchess of Sussex stayed the night before her wedding to Prince Harry, Cliveden House truly is fit for a royal escape. Our in-depth review will help you decide whether to book this luxurious hotel.
Cliveden House by numbers:
- Over 33,000 people are searching for this property every month on Google
- 48 bedrooms in total, including a summerhouse by the River Thames
- Club Rooms start from around £495 per night
- 45 minutes by car from London and 20 minutes from Heathrow Airport
- Won countless awards for its food, service and spa
- This is a woman&home approved hotel
A genuinely iconic hotel, Cliveden House isn’t just a five-star, super-luxury getaway, but it’s also a fascinating National Trust-owned attraction. Its historic foundations and gardens date back to the 17th century and are beautifully preserved today.
But staying here doesn’t come cheap, so we’ve done a full recce of Cliveden House to find out if it’s really worth that hefty price tag. Our Digital Travel Editor has sampled the spa treatments, tucked into the top dishes on the menus and sipped the cocktails in the Residents’ Lounge.
Cliveden House: a comprehensive guide
W&H star rating out of 5: 5
Cliveden House offers an elevated experience in an elegant stately home, with sensational food and supremely friendly staff to boot. It’s a glorious escape.
What is the hotel’s vibe?
There’s no other word for it: Cliveden is posh. But it’s not posh in an intimidating, stuck-up sort of way. It’s more refined and demure than upturned noses and airs and graces, and it’s easy to get into the swing of it in such grand surroundings.
It’s easy for your purse to get in the swing of things too, as a couple of rounds of cocktails could land you with a three-figure bill – though they are delicious (we recommend the Cliveden Signature Cocktail with 24-carat gold in it, or an elderflower martini, each around £18-24). Mains at dinner will set you back between £30 and £40, and a bottle of wine is around £40 too, making staying here a real investment, even for just one night.
What makes the setting special?
The approach to Cliveden by car is impressive, with a long, wide gravel driveway leading up to the main mansion, which is flanked by two wings. The lobby is sumptuous, with sofas and armchairs for lazing in and 300-year-old tapestries casually hanging on the wall behind reception.
The most spectacular thing about this property, though, is the grounds. National Trust-owned, the gorgeous manicured gardens here are a dream to stroll through. Maps are available at reception and they’ll guide you around all the highlights, from the chapel near the Thames to the winding hedge maze.
Cliveden’s history is varied. It was originally built in 1666 but has been destroyed by fire twice (hence their no candles rule), and the current structure dates back to the mid 19th century. Almost every monarch has been hosted here since it was built, and it was recently brought into the limelight again thanks to the Duchess of Sussex, who stayed here the night before her wedding.
The House was also recently featured in the BBC drama The Trial of Christine Keeler for its role in the Profumo Scandal.
What are the bedrooms like?
Cliveden’s bedrooms are a tasteful testament to its history, with antique furniture, thick, heavy linens and Victorian-style décor. It’s traditional without feeling old fashioned, and the bathrooms are all marble, roll-top baths (except in the Kipling room) and double sinks – the true mark of luxury, at any rate.
The entry-level Club Rooms are located in the wings of the house, but for the best views opt for a garden-facing Junior Suite (from £865) and you’ll get spectacular views of the River Thames and undulating countryside beyond.
All rooms have Nespresso machines, fluffy white gowns and extremely cosy slippers.
Are the restaurants at Cliveden any good?
Yes, they are! Cliveden has two restaurants within the hotel, and the National Trust runs The Orangery just outside the hotel’s grounds.
The Cliveden Dining Room
This is the hotel’s fine-dining option, all white tablecloths and waistcoat-clad staff. The food goes well beyond the usual slow-cooked beef or lamb and posh fish and chips and enters a whole new realm of cooking, with exquisite fish dishes and generous truffle risottos that aren’t shy about the funghi. It’s beautifully presented, and the tasting menu (around £100) offers a great selection of seven dishes.
If you book dinner, bed and breakfast you’ll get £72.50 each to put towards your meal, which should just about cover two courses, otherwise you’re looking at around £100 a head for two courses with a bottle of wine.
This is also where breakfast is served in the form of made-to-order hot dishes and continental meats, cheese and pastries.
The Astor Grill
While it’s technically the casual dining restaurant at Cliveden, the Astor Grill doesn’t let standards slip. This stylish setting offers great, hearty comfort food – think steaks, burgers and even grilled lobster – ideal for all the family. Dogs are even allowed in this restaurant too. Don’t miss the fettuccine with mussels and tarragon.
What about the spa?
Cliveden’s Spa is sublime. An outdoor heated pool and two outdoor hot tubs are glorious on a summer’s afternoon or even during winter, when steam rises off the water. The indoor pool is equally lovely, and the Guest Area has comfy beds and chairs for chilling out between the two. There’s a small gym, a studio for classes and plenty of treatment rooms.
Book in for a massage or facial and you’ll get the pleasure of relaxing on one of their water-filled treatment beds, and manicures and pedicures come with a free nail polish to take home.
Treatments range from £65 for the basic oil massages to floatation experiences at 185. Below is a sample list of treatments:
- Oil massage, 45 mins; £65
- Sarah Chapman facial, 60 mins; £110
- Floatation experience, 120 mins; £185
- Luxury manicure, 60 mins; £55
- Oskia facial, 60 mins; £90
Is Cliveden House good for a special event?
Throw a party or wedding at Cliveden House and you’ll be the envy of all your friends and family. This is a stunning wedding destination or a glorious place for private dining events. Do note, however, that it’s ultimately a National Trust property, so you might well encounter visitors wandering around the grounds during your event.
So, should I book it?
Cliveden House is the perfect hotel for special occasions, anniversaries, honeymoons or minimoons and lavish, luxurious weekend getaways. Book it if you’ve got a healthy budget and a penchant for the finer things in life.
Cliveden House: key info before you book
- Is it family-friendly? Yes
- Is it dog-friendly? Yes
- Is spa use included? Yes
- Is breakfast included? Yes, with room-only rates available
- Is there free wi-fi? Yes
Where is Cliveden House?
The nearest train station is Taplow, from where a cab costs £15 (you can book this with Cliveden before you arrive). Not far off the M40 and M4, it’s well placed for Londoners or anyone arriving into Heathrow Airport.
What are Cliveden’s other facilities like?
You’ll never be short of things to do here, as there are indoor and outdoor tennis courts, hedgerow mazes and play areas for the kids. Plus, a local concierge company can organise activities such as falconry, nighttime owl-watching experiences and clay pigeon shooting.
Things to do nearby
You probably won’t find reason to leave the glorious confines of Cliveden House, but if you do there’s a fair amount to enjoy nearby. Keep on the royal theme and head to Windsor for a day out (20 mins driving), or for an even fancier meal than in the Cliveden Dining Room, pop down to The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant.
The riverside town of Henley-on-Thames is a lovely day out, and in the summer there’s the annual five-day regatta that draws well-heeled crowds in fascinators and chinos. Just over 30 minutes’ drive away is Ascot Racecourse, too, where you can try and get another glimpse of a royal or two. Her Majesty regularly attends the Royal Ascot Races in June each year.