Escape the humdrum and enter a different world. This is English country-house living where candles once sealed letters, gamekeepers reared pheasants for society shoots, and chauffeurs moved the aristocracy around castles in the Home Counties, London and the Highlands according to the social and sporting season.
Mount Offham in Kent sleeps 14 in seven opulent bedrooms. So you can get all the folks together (plus dogs) and live a grander life where the curtains swag, the chandeliers glint and the beds come with a post in each corner. Outside, the lawns are set for croquet, and dinner is served on the terrace by the heated pool.
Back inside, you can gather for games or films in the movie room or chalk up for a game of full-size snooker before dinner. Then maybe sign up for our chef, so all you need do is pass the bread rolls and the Bordeaux around the giant dining table. Top it off with the sleep of the just in giant beds wrapped in rural silence.
You’ll be called by the wild here, although it’s all beautifully tamed. Your garden within the garden of England is lawned, lush and landscaped. Thirty acres of pretty parklands demand a picnic. And the tennis court invites a pre-dinner hit. You can even charge your electric cars and take a copter ride. No, really.
Walk the geometric landscaping, eat al-fresco under starlit skies, bang some balls in the back of the net on the footy pitch, or take a dip in the 30-degree outdoor pool. Play some croquet on the lawn. Check out and chill in a place where the shrill call of the swift is a welcome swap for the wail of sirens and the honk of horns.
Live in the grand English manner, deep inside what feels like the pages of Brideshead Revisited or Howard’s End. Make yourself comfortable. Soft furnishings are an art form here. Curtains are swagged, rugs plentiful and suites well-upholstered. Get your boots off and get the fire going.
There’s plenty here to entertain and excite. You can plunder the library full of books, dock your iPod and sing along, or do the same around the grand piano in the sitting room. For movie nights, tune in to one of five flat-screen TVs and raid the DVD collection.
Download your box sets and check your email on the superfast broadband. Bash the drums in the upstairs bedroom. (Neighbours? What neighbours?) Bring out the board games. Charge your whisky glass and get some snooker or pool going in the games room.
Need to escape? Rooms abound. Duck out to the serenity and silence of the garden room and talk to the plants. Catch some home cinema in the snooker room. Find a nook or a cranny, break out your book and savour the silence.
What’s English wine like? Pop a cork at Chapel Down and sample one of the country’s finest vintages. Team your tipple with local strawberries and raspberries, support the Kentish economy and enjoy delicious produce. Eat around the kitchen table or get your glad rags on and gather under the chandelier in the dining room.
Cook for yourself on the large Aga, electric oven and gas hob. Or call up the pros from La Belle Assiette, while you pour the Prosecco. Make the most of he sunshine and head out to the gas barbie and dine on the terrace by the pool. Squint only slightly and you could be in St Tropez. Top off with coffee from the Miele machine.
Order your produce from Tesco or Waitrose, with wine from Hardy’s. Or let someone else do the heavy lifting, with outings to local pubs The George, The Farmhouse or the Five-Pointed Star for hearty fare cooked with quality local ingredients. Treat the kids to tea at The Vineyard or the Beefeater Royal Oak.
Make a meal of it, with a trip to A Mano (by hand) for authentic Italian eats. Try The Swan for Brixham crab or seared yellowfin tuna, Franks for mussels savoured around open fires under exposed beams, or The Farm House for its outdoor cocktail bar and heated seating.
Bedtime here is a plush and posh experience. After you’ve fought over the four-poster, nobody will be disappointed. Packed with traditional country-house comforts, the rooms come with rural views and an all-enveloping sense of rustic calm.
The master comes with that four-poster, plus an en-suite and dressing room. Squabble politely. Bedrooms two, three and four are king-size en-suites, while bedrooms five, six and seven are generous king-sizes.
Mount Offham sleeps 14 in delicious opulence. But if you need more, sofa beds can be pressed into service to sleep six more.