Lambourn House in rural West Berkshire is a second-gear sort of place. You’ll need to select it as you drive along the off-road track and down into the small valley. And you’ll want to stay that way, as you drink in the rolling views, simmer in the hot tub and gently bake in the sauna.
This is a place to celebrate for up to 26 mums, dads, kids, aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandads, dogs and hens, out among the big skies, the rolling hills and the rabbits that hop past the sash windows. Leave your worries on the stone steps, collapse into the soft sofas and settle back with meat, gin and truffles from the Saddleback Farm Shop.
Throw open the French doors to the patio, play some pool in the games room, binge on box sets. Fix up a feast with Fingers and Forks catering and set up your soundtrack on the Bluetooth. Trek the hills, row the river, meet jump jockeys over a jug o’ malt in the Wheelwright Arms, and come home to a crackling fire.
Beyond the gardens, life is all wellies and walks along the Ridgeway. Before you get there, be prepared to be distracted by terraces made for summer salads beneath big skies. Kids can organise their own catering: a teddy bears’ picnic on the lawns with a little swing, slide and wendy-house fun to follow.
At night, the dark skies are alive with lights. Take them in while you simmer slowly in the hot tub. Marinate with fermented grape juice and swap stories in the bubbles. Celebrate your escape from deadlines, horns and sirens and drift off on a raft of delicious daydreams.
Start with the fun stuff. Grab a towel and head straight for the indoor sauna. Once you’re fully steamed, the games room awaits, where you can rack up a little eight-ball pool or flip your way to glory at table football. But fun runs throughout Lambourn House like writing through rock.
The merriment here comes wrapped in sumptuous comfort. In the three reception rooms, there’s a Laura Ashley feel to the leather sofas, the deep skirts and the heavy curtains. Yet everything is cosy and homely: books sit on the coffee table, shadows from the fire lick the room at night, and sofas look suitably squishy.
Stock up on organic beef, sausages, fresh bread, pastries and cakes from Saddleback Farm Shop. Whip it all into something wonderful in the country kitchen with double-oven electric cooker. Serve it up in the 20-seat dining room beneath the chandelier; spill over onto the kitchen’s farmhouse table and draw up the outside table for extra seating.
Keep your dining times relaxed with a buffet, or get super-chilled with a barbie in the garden. Book your groceries from the local online supermarkets. Or go all-out for glory and call up local caterers Fingers and Forks, Dineindulge or Jane Staunton. They’ll even deal with the dishwasher while you down a drop of vino.
No shortage of accommodation here, with ten elegant, light and airy bedrooms sleeping up to 26 guests. Plan your layout how you like, with family flexibility in the shape of singles or super kings. Sumptuous furnishing goes hand in hand with super-comfort in the shape of three family bathrooms, two en-suites and two further WCs.
Every room comes bursting with contemporary style, oodles of comfort and crisp Egyptian linen. The first floor has five bedrooms. The master offers a double bed with additional three single beds and en-suite. A second double comes with an en-suite. And you’ll find two further doubles and another bedroom with double bed and a single.
On the top floor are four double bedrooms and a further twin bedroom, all sharing one family bathroom. Whichever you pick, you’ll sleep like a baby with the sash windows inched open to the cool night air and the hoot of the barn owls.