Live in the manor to which you’d love to get accustomed at The Italian House, as English as Elgar and as refined and gracious as a tea party on a summer lawn. You’ll stay here because you want a weekend away, because you’re celebrating, because you’re hosting a party, or just because you can.
The Italian House in rural Oxfordshire is stately and sublime. The gravel drive frames an immaculately manicured lawn and the 50 acres of meadows, woodlands, river, lake and ornamental bridging bring a structure to the silence. Break it with the pock of a tennis ball on the on-site hardcourt or with a splash or two in the outdoor pool.
When the merriment is over for the day, climb the sweeping stairs to five king-sized, en-suite bedrooms and one twin. Inch open the windows to hear the still of the night and doze off to the sound of an owl. Life here’s a hoot.
The Italian House’s ground are licensed to chill. Something about the serenity suggests an easy life set free from everyday cares, one that comes with a Pimm’s on the terrace before a hearty supper cooked by your own staff.
Yes, staff. That’s The Italian House. Sublime and stately, the house makes you feel like a Lord or Lady for the length of your stay. It’s a quiet world here of woodlands and meadows, a stream, walled garden and a lake. A river runs through it, too. If you could take the inner peace home with you, you’d never need a massage again.
Within the 50-acre slice of unspoilt Oxfordshire sit a couple more gems. The tennis court awaits the summertime pock of ball on strings and the outdoor pool can be heated to whatever temperature you desire. Now that’s living.
Down the centuries, these spaces have probably seen tittle-tattle and scandal, the admonishing of servants for misdemeanours, grand weddings and high-society balls. But we suspect you’ll simply want to get together with friends and family and celebrate something special.
Classical elegance comes laid on thick here. Spaces are vast, adorned with ornate cornicing and picture rails, chairs are gilt-legged and chandeliers hang as heavy as the thick curtains.
These are spaces that bring people closer. Hold a party, dinner or dance, or just get away from it all and get to know each other once again. Break out the cards after dinner or give the kids a late-night game of charades in front of the period open fires.
From the sweeping staircase to the pre-Raphaelite artwork, The Italian House is as reassuringly English as the ticking of a grandfather clock. It’s yours to make your home for as long as you stay.
The Italian House is fully staffed, which means one wonderful thing: you can be waited-on, hand and foot. Of course, if you’re a budding Gordon Ramsay yourself, you’ll swear by the kitchen facilities.
At mealtimes, pull out the polished silver in the chandeliered dining room. Dinner is an occasion here, one to be savoured over several courses with good company, wine and preferably a spot of port. Don’t forget to toast the Queen. The table takes 20, or 30 with a little jiggery-pokery.
Options abound if you’re heading out to eat. From hearty pubs, like The Crazy Bear in Stadhampton, to gastropubs such as The Chequers in Berrick Salome, Warborough’s The Six Bells and the Lord Nelson in Brightwell Baldwin.
Dining doesn’t get much finer than Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, where Raymond Blanc’s imaginative genius has won two glittering Michelin stars. Don’t forget to book – just the three months in advance should seal it.
Sleeping 12 in opulent luxury, The Italian House offers five king-sized, en-suite bedrooms and a twin or nursery. The spaces are cavernous, so if you have a guestfest, a pop-up bed or two won’t be a problem.
Curtains and fabrics are as heavy and deep as the indulgent sleep you’ll enjoy as you drift off. The soundtrack to your dreams is the sound of absolute silence broken only by the wings of bats or the rustle of the breeze through the boughs of the elms and oaks.
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