It’s breathlessly quiet here in Lambourn, in the heart of the Berkshire chalk downs, close to the Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire borders. The loudest noise you might hear is the thundering of horses’ hooves across the downland gallops.
Ridgeway House sits in crisp rural air in a village that seems locked into an altogether more-genteel era. Wind back your watch a few decades, breathe deeply and adjust your pace of life. This is a place where the postie still offers up a cheery wave and wading fly fishermen flick their rods ceremonially in the gushing river.
Drink and dine around the oak table, swap stories, make plans, make it a late one. After dinner, let the party bubble over into the hot tub. If the clouds pop open, cue a game of pool or two. At night, notch open the windows of the big and beautiful bedrooms to drift off to the hoot of an owl or the breeze through the boughs.
The biggest and best garden might be the West Berkshire chalk downs, where the soft, springy turf has spawned many a champion racehorse. On crisp, misty winter mornings, there’s no finer sight than conker-shiny horses kicking up divots as they thunder past across the high ground.
There are no thundering hooves at Ridgeway House. Just the quiet simmer of the hot tub in the garden. After your evening meal, with the inky black sky clear of light pollution, lie back with some bubbly in the bubbles and trace the endless constellations across the big skies.
During the day, the built-in coal barbie sits ready to receive your sausages, steaks and shish kebabs. Mix up a salad, set the Sauvignon to chill and get together around the garden furniture for more great times.
Three big squishy sofas in the lounge and large TV on the wall suggest gatherings for family film nights or to catch the match. Delve into the DVDs or, if you’d prefer to chat, dock your iPod to serve up the soundtrack to your stay. Wifi hums throughout, so you won’t miss a beat.
If the clouds close in across the chalk downs, the games room stands ready. Light floods in from the French doors and hours disappear around the full-size pool table.
The Flavel range cooker with its four-door oven and hob, stands ready to rustle up a roast. If that’s too much trouble, you can call up our chef. Down tools as he puts on his whites and creates a culinary masterpiece for your whole party. From a one-off celebration to a fully catered break, our whisks are ever-ready.
The dining room is a spectacular meeting point. Get up to 16 together around the oak table as the open-plan arrangement allows tantalising aromas to waft in from the kitchen. Review the day, laugh, chat. Remember what it’s like to dine and drink together.
Out in the rural air, there’s no finer sound than the sizzle of steaks accompanied by the satisfying thwock of a popping cork. The built-in coal barbecue sits ready out on the patio. Butter your baguettes, put the drinks on ice and toast the taste of summer.
Out and about, The Pheasant Inn in Hungerford offers hearty English staples, real ale and the chance to bring your own wine. The Bell at Boxford comes with free fast-fibre wifi and a menu laced with tiger-prawn linguini and ribeye steak that’s a cut above as well. Harrow at Little Bedwyn’s the place to taste a Michelin star.
Bedrooms are bright, breezy and big, with relaxation built in. This is the hotel accommodation where you choose the guests and get the freedom to come and go as you please. At night, there’s a special pleasure in opening the windows and breathing the crisp rural air.
There are five bedrooms at Ridgeway House, sleeping 16 in crisp-cottoned comfort. Downstairs, the bedroom to the right of the kitchen comes with an en-suite. Upstairs, there’s one en-suite and a shared bathroom. There’ll be no leg-crossing on the landing.
All bedrooms are kingsize. The master is a double that can double as a twin. The second bedroom is a twin, the third a double and the fourth a twin, while the fifth is a double with an-suite shower room. All rooms have zip-and-link beds. Walls come in cool pastels and there are solid, oaky touches in the fixtures and fittings.