Jewel in the crown

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  • A hotel in the country. A stone's throw from London. What winter weekends were made for...

    The days are getting darker, nights are getting longer, carbs are getting stodgier… I can’t actually think of a better time of year for an indulgently cosy weekend away. If you’re looking to escape to the country for a night or two, allow me to introduce you to The Crown, in Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire. It’s where Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell got it on in Four Weddings And A Funeral don’t ya know…

    I’ve just been with my boyfriend to celebrate our first year together (yes, it’s a year since that dating feature, yes I’m still with him). But I not had an ‘occasion’ to celebrate, I would have found one. A hotel room in the countryside – at the end of the tube line? A no-brainer.

    I even squeezed in a blow dry at celebrity hair stylist (think Sienna Miller and Paloma Faith) Mark Woolley’s salon Electric in Marylebone after work before hopping on the train! The staff are lovely and helpful, plying you with wine (very helpful on a Friday), and advice (I don’t think I’ve ever had such a thorough consultation) and have a gorgeous range of their own products. They’ve also just launched a branch in Harvey Nichols in my hometown of Liverpool. Score! (

    But back to the hotel, or super stylish period coaching inn which does it more justice. To give you a bit of background, it’s a timber-framed, 16th century property (boasting 40 bedrooms). We stayed in one of the four spacious courtyard bedrooms initially conceptualized (along with its sister inn The Olde Bell in Hurley) by Isle Crawford in 2009 but completed by Ben Thompson and Sarina Dhillon, former owner and founder of the Dhillon Group. 

    With high beams, a four-poster bed, sheepskin rug and a claw-footed bath (in the middle of the room – keep that TV remote nearby!) the stylish period features perfectly beat off those winter blues.

    Stepping across the cobbled courtyard to the hotel restaurant (which even if you were just in the area would be a fabulous choice for supper), the seasonal menu served high end autumn –friendly dishes like wood pigeon, apple remoulade, hazelnut jus followed by 28 day dry aged feather blade, chop house garnish (if you like your steak on the rare side, it’s a must). Having gushed about a rouille to the waitress, I couldn’t believe it when she brought me the recipe. If only I could replicate it to their standards!

    It’s touches like this which set The Crown apart from the rest. It might feel extravagant doing a mini-break in the colder months but when it’s this cosy, warm and conveniently located? I’d call it essential. Bring on the log fire…

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