Stancliffe Hall is a sparkling, sweeping baronial beast of a party palace. It sits serenely in delightful Darley Dale, which sounds like the setting for a long-running rustic radio soap. One where you can sample the bubbling, boiling, steamy joys of the on-site spa sanctuary with heated pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room. And the rest.
This is the edge of the Peak District, with its limestone cliffs, show caverns, spa towns, and cable railways. Sleeping up to 18, Stancliffe is a sprawling slice of well-mannered mansion set within a highly explorable 50 acres of rolling parkland. It’s the kind of place you repair to the cocktail lounge before dinner. And you can.
Stancliffe Hall is a delicious delight packed with deep skirts, dramatic staircases, dripping chandeliers, and flowing fountains. It’s properly posh, yet it always politely reminds you it’s a family home. So it’s family-friendly as well as party-perfect, with swagged curtains, roaring fires, and bedrooms big enough to host a ball.
Take a pre-prandial potter around the 50 acres of rolling parkland, keeping an eye out for badgers. Take in the views across the Derwent Valley to Riber Castle. Enjoy the sound of perfect silence broken only by the call of the curlews and buzzards.
Take afternoon tea on the terrace. Play cricket and croquet. Spot sculptures and flowing fountains. When summer’s done, repair to the conservatory to stare at the winter garden.
Luxuriate in the on-site spa, bubble and boil in the Jacuzzi, splash out a few leisurely 12-metre lengths in the heated pool before dinner, get steamy in the sauna. Stancliffe Hall is a party palace both inside and out.
There is tasteful décor at every turn, exquisite Victorian and Edwardian details, and standards as high as the ceilings. Sashay down the restored pine staircase like Gloria Swanson, admire the eclectic mix of paintings and portraits, pad across re-laid mosaic floors.
History hits you at every turn here. It’s where 15th-century features sit happily alongside 30mbps wifi. Catch the match or a movie on the TVs in the two snug lounges, sing along with the sounds from the iPod dock, pop a blockbuster onto the Blu-ray player. This is the perfect marriage of modern and traditional.
But this house has more tales to tell. Play a little ping-pong. Escape to the snug to raid the bookcase. Pick a TV from the nine on offer: one’s sure to be playing your tune. Boost your billiards with a bevy from the cocktail bar next door. Blast away any extra calories with a journey around the gym.
Stancliffe Hall is a wedding venue, with finishes to match. This is a world of sumptuous surroundings: dripping chandeliers, swagged curtains, deep skirting boards, panelled walls and centuries of history. But in the end, it’s the people who fill the spaces who make it what it is. This is no hotel. It’s a hall, but also a home.
The dining table’s modest: it’ll hold just the 20 beneath the elegant cornicing and the chandelier. Be distracted from your beef bourguignon briefly by the marquetry around the doors and panelling, the ornate mirror, and the family portraits that stare at you through the centuries.
Cooking’s no chore with fresh fare from the Sticky Fig and the Lambton Larder. Get all hands to the pump beneath the beams of the giant island kitchen, with three fridges and both gas and electric ovens. Want to hang up your oven gloves? Call up Coghlans’ Simon Lilley for a one-off celebration or your entire stay. He can even sort you out with lessons.
Head out for live pub music, a beer garden and Guinness pie at The Church Inn, or into Matlock to The Thorntree for a great range of beers, a big atmosphere and even bigger range of pies. Or try the Duke of Wellington for wholetail scampi, Riber Castle beefburger, or an infamous ‘Duke Stack’.
Restaurants include Stones in Matlock, home to turkey roulade and braised blade of Derbyshire beef, Thai No. 1 for classic curries and noodles with opulent decor on a mezzanine level, or Viva Italian for modern, glamorous pizza and pasta, including gluten-free options.
Buckle up: we’ve 9 to get through, sleeping up to 18. You’ll sleep like the logs that doze in nearby Darwin Forest, beginning with The Lady Mary, a double en-suite that includes a handheld shower over the bath and the Sir Joseph, an en-suite double with shower over the bath.
The Flamingo Suite is a kingsize room with en-suite, small lounge, fridge and cooking facilities. Make yourself at home. The Garrett Suite I is a kingsize that shares a communal snug area with Garrett Suite II. Facilities include TV, oven and fridge. There’s also a spacious bathroom with separate bath and shower.
The Linen Room offers two singles and an en-suite shower room. Matron’s Room is a family en-suite for two adults and two children, with a double bed, one toddler bed and one cot, while The Bollywood offers an en-suite double with separate bath and shower, plus a large sofa for lounging.
Grab the Hollywood Room for its double bed and en-suite with walk-in wardrobe. There are no losers here: each room delivers unique luxury with eclectic artefacts from across the globe.
Kids love space and when there’s 50 acres of the stuff, so much the better. The lawns here at Stancliffe are manicured but that doesn’t mean they’ve swerved a little cricket and football over the years. This is a hall, but it’s also a home and former school. The endless green stuff also lends itself to free-range handstands, headstands, and cartwheels.
The leisure facilities at Stancliffe Hall double up for luxury spa breaks, but your kids will probably just want to take over the heated 12-metre pool. Bring your cossies and inflatables. Watch them waste a few hours from the boiling, bubbling Jacuzzi. Supervision never felt so good.
Older kids who don’t need to stand on a box will love the full-size snooker table. For something more energetic, ask us about the table-tennis table. In the evenings, everyone can come together over movies and matches around the large-screen TVs. Extra points for spotting all nine.
With 30mbs wifi, digital oxygen won’t be in short supply and there are Blu-ray players in the snugs. Kids wanting to escape the mayhem will find an iPod dock and bookcase. Get a fire going, break out the blankets and watch time vanish.