Escape to Danesfield House à la Amal and George Clooney for old-school decadence and glamour on a Hollywood-worthy minimoon.
Deep inside the unblemished gorgeousness of The Chilterns in Buckinghamshire, Danesfield House boasts a hell of a setting only three miles past the upscale market town and foodie- haven of Marlow.
It’s under an hour’s drive from central London and Henley-on-Thames is within easy reach. With 65 acres of private formal gardens to roam and views overs the River Thames, it’s no wonder the chalky white and purple wisteria clad mansion stood out as a super secluded and seductive call to the Clooneys who hosted another glittering reception here after their 2014 Venice nuptials.
The winding approach is spectacular – a grand, tree-lined gravel path provides beautiful and undulating views of the grassy grounds before revealing the historic Georgian manor house where on most days, you’ll find several Ferraris casually parked opposite the main entrance.
There’s no getting away from the fact the Grade II listed property is where the glitterati come to hang out and have done ever since it was rebuilt in 1750 by Queen Charlotte’s appointed Attorney General, John Morton.
After passing various hands, Danesfield – as it stands today – was turned into a family home in 1901 by Robert William Hudson. Aside from the Clooneys, it’s been quietly and steadily attracted other A listers including Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Nicole Kidman, Dame Maggie Smith and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Jeremy in the concierge team is quick to offer a hearty welcome before helping to offload luggage and escort us inside where we’re met by graceful front of house staff. The team maintain the country pad’s air of sophistication without being stiff and by blending the highest levels of professionalism with friendliness.
Deeply glamorous, Danesfield exudes an unforced superlative, bygone-era laid-back elegance without the country chintz. Oak-panelled corridors and public rooms such as the grand hall and dining rooms are alive with oil-painted portraits and antiques.
The warm and well-lit Grand Hall features a vast smouldering open fire, elaborate vaulted wooden ceiling and crystal chandelier as well as more pleasing to the eye object d’arts and oversized mismatched sofas to curl up on.
Suite Dreams at Danesfield House
While differing in style, all 79 rooms pay testimony to Danefield’s rich heritage and tranquil exteriors. Despite the ample size, our superior suite manages to remain homely owing largely to a calming traditional beige and cream colour palette, Victorian-era feature fireplace, thick carpets, romantic mood lighting and plushy overstuffed sofas in both rooms.
Antique consoles and dressers are creations of beauty and leaded windows provide cracking south facing views onto the manicured lawns. Feather pillows and bedding add the finishing touches on an elaborate four poster king bed – just the ticket after a serious night of gluttony at the table.
In-room facilities are top notch with complimentary snacks, coffee machines and two smart TVs to boot. Marble bathrooms feature double sinks, rain showers and bath products from Aromatherapy Associates.
And you needn’t worry about busier nights like New Year’s Eve either; excellent soundproofing throughout the rooms ensure a peaceful night’s sleep. You’ll tumble into bed, attempt to hit up the TV menu up but sleep will come at you fast and blissfully.
Food at Danesfield House
Danesfield’s fine dining restaurant is overseen by Head Chef, Massimo Principe – an exciting force in imaginative classic cooking and presentation and one who advocates sourcing locally and seasonally. The room is decently sized with tables well-spaced enough for you to not worry about anyone eaves dropping into your honeymoon sweet talk (or last-minute wedding plans).
The finesse of white pressed tablecloths, heavy silverware that clinks against crystal glassware is only matched then upped by the food; this is profoundly classy and formal eating for adults. You’ll want to dress up too; the space made for special celebrations, and you’re made to feel every inch like Hollywood royalty inside it.
There is no loud background music, just the gentle glow of flickering candle lights and impeccable service to ramp up the romantic ambience. While civil and refined, you won’t find it stuffy either; smartly dressed and fabulous staff like Miguel (who regaled us with amusing tales of his time working at other lauded estates like Cliveden House and Lucknam Park) and Ana Marie make sure you have the time of your lives.
Highlights from our evening include starters of Ham hock with apples and candied walnuts and seared tuna with teriyaki glaze and wasabi jelly – both immaculately presented and even more delicious than we could imagine. A fabulous main of halibut served with white wine sea purslane sauce, purple potatoes and pickled girolles rivals that in any Michelin starred kitchen and the dry aged beef fillet with oxtail and Jerusalem artichoke is superb. Of course, you’ll book again to try the lamb, duck and salmon options too.
A well thought out dessert menu effortlessly adds to an evening consistently heaving with wonders – especially the elderflower and apple panna cotta with pomegranate compote and Amaretto parfait. Fear not if you’re looking for something more casual but equally delectable; the gin bar has a few handsome corners to make a pitstop in for plates of Toulouse Sausages with creamed potatoes or a handmade burgers and homemade fries from the all-day dining menu.
Unsurprisingly, breakfast is a fancy affair making the most out of local produce – you’ll savour deliciously creamy and fluffy handmade Greek yogurts with cherry compote and mini croissants baked in-house and served warm to your table. Hot options of sausages and bacon are cooked flawlessly as is smoked haddock with creamy scrambled or poached eggs.
Spa at Danesfield House
Located in a separate but interconnecting building, the Spa Illuminata at Danesfield House is a tonic for frazzled brains and bodies. Guests are provided with fluffy gowns and take-home branded flip-flops for the 20-metre indoor heated pool overlooking ornate Italian formal gardens.
The pool is both spacious and properly warm – you’ll splash around inside it for hours. A state-of-the-art sauna, steam room and bubbling hot jacuzzi bump up the extra poolside pampering too.
When it’s time to zone out, flop to any of one of the large sun loungers (there are plenty of them) and mull over fashion magazines and Sunday papers, gaze at the classical frescos on walls or bask in the sunshine provided by ceiling-to-floor windows commanding knock-out views over the open countryside.
You’ll waste no time in diving into all the unrivalled treatment menu has to offer from Lava Shells ThermaBliss and Organic CBD oil body massages, to anti-aging, lifting and express facials from Resveratrol and Caudalie. Impeccable changing rooms (seemingly cleaned after each user) are equipped with straighteners, hairdryers and complimentary beauty goodies. The spa dining menu has a great a range of healthy salads and moreish detox smoothies too.
Getting Married at Danesfield House
A wedding and reception here is guaranteed to be a no holds barred lifetime celebration. Make your own day shine by booking the intimate Hambleden Room for up to 16 guests or blow the budget and head to the Versailles Suite where you can host lavish nuptials for up to 120 guests on round tables.
Amal and George famously hosted their glittering Midsummer’s Night themed reception here to celebrate with those who couldn’t make the Venice leg. The couple’s guests danced the evening away in an exclusive purpose-built marquee on the grounds which you too can book via the excellent in-house events team alongside similar round tables with elaborate floral displays.
And like the family and friends of the Alamuddins and Amal’s Oxford buddies who were welcomed in the Grand Hall before sipping delicious his and hers tequila and passionfruit liqueur cocktails, Danesfield’s bar now serves up the ‘Amal’ and ‘George’ on cocktail menus brides are welcome to choose from.
Celebrate Christmas at Danesfield in 2022
Whether you’re heading on a Christmas minimoon or simply want some time out just the two of you pre or post-wedding, Danesfield essentially sparkles with fairy dust come Christmas and has been charming guests with magical and lavish house-party style yuletides for decades.
The team will be pulling out all the stops this year with lots of romantic pre-wedding, newlywed or family merry making on offer. Book in for black-tie dinners and crackling lunches, festive afternoon teas, Christmas Eve carol singing, five-course traditional Christmas menus with all the trimmings, boxing day lunches, evening opera events and wreath making workshops.
Festivities start in November when the house is transformed into a grand winter wonderland with twinkling lights inside and out, eight-foot-high Nutcrackers, an oversized tree in the grand hall and imbued with the delicate wintery scents of roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, mandarin and cinnamon.
A popular annual Christmas Fair is held during the first week of December too – quirky and traditional stalls sell handmade gifts, stocking fillers and ornaments.
What You’ll Love at Danesfield House
- The two original waterfalls overlooking the River Thames, a Koi fishpond, Corsican pine trees and an assorted variety of English and French lavender, head to the gardens for those important minimoon or wedding ‘gram snaps (be sure to pack a minimoon picnic basket filled with Champagne, strawberries and creative pastries from Danefield’s master Pastry Chef, Slawomir Szelagowski)
• Spotting the local wildlife; muntjac and fallow deer are often found nibbling on the estate’s grand yew topiary and box hedging
• Strolling Marlow’s cobbled lanes and riverside paths
How to Book
Danesfield House, Henley Road, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 2EY. Nightly rates from £188 on a B&B basis. To book a reservation, email [email protected], call 01628 891010, or visit danesfieldhouse.co.uk for more details. To make a wedding enquiry, email the events team at [email protected] or call 01628 891010.