Cliveden House Hotel

Cliveden House, arguably one of the most iconic stately home hotels in the world, is celebrated as much for its beauty as its notoriety. Built by the Duke of Wellington as a gift to his mistress, the house epitomises grandeur, elegance and intrigue. 

Set in 376 acres of National Trust woodlands and formal gardens, including 1000 yew trees, a water garden, a rose garden, the 'Long' Italianate garden and a peripatetic maze, Clivden also commands a 6-acre Parterre sweeping down to the river Thames where you can sit on the South Terrace enjoying a glass of bubbles and a quite spectacular vista. 

Personally, I find the history of Cliveden as enchanting as its beauty. Taken over by the Astor family at the turn of the Twentieth century, Nancy Astor was the first female politician elected to parliament, but it was the Profumo scandal of the sixties - played out within the majestic walls, and, notably, the ornate swimming pool, which really ignited public intrigue. My imagination always runs to the high jinx and decadence this stately house has witnessed over the epochs; it's something of a rarity that reality can be more enthralling than fiction.

I'd been to Cliveden before for lunch, and, being only an hour's drive from London it's the perfect mini-escape from the City, so I was looking forward to spending the day at the spa and the pool. On arrival, we were welcomed by Michael, the spa manager and shown around. The ambience is a real melange of old world charm and modern luxury with an impressive indoor swimming pool, wellness and spa lounge, restaurant, and of course, the infamous outside pool, which I was informed is the oldest of any stately home in Britain. The outdoor pool is heated to 28 degrees and comprises a generous lounging area, jacuzzi and exquisite stone sculptures - it really does feel like a different epoch and is the perfect antidote frenetic city life. Closing my eyes, I imagined the hedonism of by-gone times played out in this beautiful walled oasis.

After a lovely vegan lunch, which was creatively presented, I was shown to my treatment room where I enjoyed a full body massage with warm aromatherapy oils, made even more enjoyable by the glorious water bed, before a 'Go & Glow' facial using Oskia skincare which is both vegan and cruelty-free. My skin felt recharged, and my mind soothed by the use of the holistic oils. The spa also uses Sarah Chapman, which is a fantastic British skincare line loved by celebrities.

 The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing in the pool gardens with a glass of champagne until the sun went down, re-imaging the hedonism of the old halcyon days.

 Cliveden House is dog-friendly, another excellent feature, and I shall be returning very soon.

https://www.clivedenhouse.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sofitel Resort Mumbai

Arriving at the Sofitel BKC - a short drive from Chhatrapati Shivaji Mumbai international airport - we were met with extraordinary hospitality and an expedited check-in, which was the perfect antidote to a 10-hour flight. Escorted to our suite, an 800 sq ft fusion of decadent luxury with chic, upscale features including a state of the art television above the bath, mood lighting and electronic drapes revealing the dramatic prairie of Mumbai’s sprawling business district. The suite amenities also includes a butler service for those too weary to unpack, and with 24-hour room service every need is catered for, including personal shopping on request, and 24-hour spa; it was entirely conceivable to spend the next week luxuriating in the room alone. The most taxing decision of the day appeared to be selecting my pillow of choice from the ‘Sleep Menu.’

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A perfect mélange of French ‘art de vivre’ and warm indian hospitality, the grandeur of Sofitel Mumbai BKC is reflected in its unrivalled facilities and personalised service from the heart. Strategically located in the central business district of the city, Sofitel Mumbai BKC is designed specifically for the global traveller, offering multifaceted experiences in cuisine, entertainment and relaxation. Welcome to this stunning address, blending art and french flair, situated in the heart of the vibrant city of Mumbai. Discover a home away from home, where luxury is the key essence
 

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A little flight jaded we headed straight to the elegant rooftop ‘L’OH pool to enjoy an afternoon basking in the glorious 32-degree heat ahead of a busy week of meetings and enjoy a cocktail or two. What I quickly discovered is that everything at the hotel is malleable from food to drinks, and the staff excel at creating and catering for bespoke requests.

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On to the food now - which was definitely a signature delight. As two vegans we were a little nervous about ensuring that none of our dishes contained any dairy. Indian food is definitely our favourite world cuisine, and we find ourselves cooking Indian meals most days back in London, so our expectations were pretty strident. The hotel has five uniquely different exploratory dining experiences, each one exquisitely designed and crafted with a nod to the traditional Indian aesthetic and fused with a contemporary European ambience. Each of the restaurant and bars are distinctive in terms of decor and gastronomy to suit every mood with none of the homogeneity you sometimes find in large hotels.

In between meetings I had lunch at Tuskers, the exclusively vegetarian restaurant, and I couldn’t have been more impressed. It is customary at the hotel for the chef to personally meet with you to understand what your dietary needs are. In our case, we explained that we wanted to enjoy signature Indian dishes, but without any ghee (butter) milk, eggs or cheese. This was not an issue, and the chef went out of his way to assure me that he was experienced and more importantly happy to cater to vegans. I enjoyed a fabulous lunch which was delicate and clean but lacked none of the flavour or richness I’ve come to adore Indian food for.

A speciality restaurant for the selective eaters, Tuskers unravels a variety of delectable dishes featuring a sense-awakening vegetarian menu. As the name suggests, Tuskers is inspired by the regal and merciful...

It was really the Jyran Tandoori restaurant that really stole our hearts, so much so that we wanted to eat there whenever we could. This award-winning restaurant and rather opulent gin bar with an expansive outside dining space serving authentic Indian dishes inspired by the North-West Indian province.

Chef, Shadab Ahmed, couldn't have been more charming or knowledgeable when it came to adapting our favourite dishes and veganising everything for us. The entire experience was superb and the traditional tandoori dishes - my personal favourite - were simply divine. Assisted by the head barman, the charismatic and delightful Rajesh we enjoyed some delicious wine and cocktails from an extensive European and Indian wine menu. One evening, after returning to the hotel rather late and craving Shadbab’s food, we were informed the kitchen had closed; however, Rajesh managed to organise for our favourite dishes to be brought to our room and we enjoyed a small banquet while taking in the panorama of Mumbai’s illuminated city-scape.

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The last thing to mention about the hotel would be the ‘So Spa’, an oasis of such beauty and refinement I was transported to nothing short of a dream-like experience. I chose the 90 minute Ayurvedic massage, having been a huge fan of the ancient practice from the last time I visited Mumbai. Warm, aromatic oils were poured over my body and traditional Ayurvedic massage techniques to reduce tension, restore equilibrium and rejuvenate mind, body and spirit.

Feeling rejeuvenated after my glorious Spa treatment

Feeling rejeuvenated after my glorious Spa treatment

The spa offers an exquisite blend of ancient Indian practices and contemporary French cosmetology so that even the most jaded traveller will be revitalised by the poetic and time honoured Asian traditions of holistic beauty and wellness and the spa menu itself was extensive and expertly tailored. I cannot recommend the Sofitel Mumbai enough; the atmosphere, pulchritude, elegance and cuisine is world class, and I definitely cannot wait to return!

Thank you to everyone who took care of us and made it such a memorable trip.

Love,

Heidi xx

For more information on the Sofitel Mumbai please visit: http://www.sofitel-mumbai-bkc.com