A sweeping driveway, magnificent façade and rolling lawns welcomed us to Luton Hoo, it was like taking a trip back in time…
We were invited to spend the weekend at the historic Luton Hoo estate to experience what this grand hotel had to offer. Excited at the prospect of a chance to sample the relaxing spa, luxurious suite and delicious dinner, my husband, daughter and I fell silent as we drove through the trees that bordered the entrance and made our way up the long, winding drive, taking in our beautiful surroundings. Trees, flower gardens and lawns as far as the eye could see thrilled us and we couldn’t wait to see what else was in store.
We were warmly welcomed as the valet took our car and the concierge relieved us of our bags.
Eager as we were to explore the estate, we arrived early before check in time, which gave us a chance to visit the spa and the warmest pool I have ever encountered!
A cosy 29 degrees, and a delight to swim in! After a dip in the Jacuzzi our room was ready and we made our way back to the Mansion House. Although only about a short three minute walk, Luton Hoo provide lovely little golf buggy taxis to ferry guests between the Mansion House and spa, for which we were very grateful as the threatening clouds had started to drizzle on us.
And so to our room…
The majestic staircase, wide hallways and high ceilings led us to the Lady Zia Suite, the Hoo’s finest suite in the house. The corridors are packed with paintings and cabinets full of beautiful objects – you simply can not escape the history of this place.
Which is why it has been chosen on many occasions as a film set, featuring in many blockbuster movies. With links to the family of Anne Boleyn, and gardens designed by Capability Brown, its more recent history sees it owned by the Wernher family, before being sold to Elite Hotels. Sir Julius Wernher purchased and transformed Luton Hoo to please his wife, who enjoyed lavish parties there.
A big name in diamond dealing, Sir Julius made a great fortune for a company that would become DeBeers. After Sir Julius and his wife had passed away, the house was left to their son, Harold, and his wife Lady Zia, after whom our suite was named. His wife, of course, had the grandest suite in the house and stepping inside, I could just imagine Lady Zia gazing out of the large windows with breathtaking views across the sprawling lush green grass and flower gardens.
Indeed, a painting of the Lady herself was positioned on a wall within her suite and I spent a moment picturing her sitting at her dressing table whilst her maid ran a bath, or reclining in her lounge. The rooms were enormous! The suite totalled approximately 135 square metres, with five or six sofas in the lounge, a beautiful canopy bed and a well appointed bathroom with both a shower and standalone bath, and stocked with Molten Brown products.
We were treated to a tour of the estate by the Operations Manager, Frederick Billet who fascinated us with tales of the house and its extensive history. The Queen herself had her second honeymoon here and would visit her cousin, Lady Zia annually until she passed away in 1977.
We were also lucky enough to see a small private dining room that housed the original paintings of Winston Churchill who had visited Luton Hoo in 1948 to thank a crowd of 110,000 for their war-time support. The paintings were breathtakingly beautiful and we lingered awhile to take in these outstanding works.
As part of our tour, Frederick took us in his car around the grounds and down to a secluded riverbank, home to 53 species of birds and with its own boathouse. A spot that would be perfect for a very special romantic proposal, maybe followed by dinner in their fine dining restaurant.
So from proposal spot to wedding venue, we were whisked over to a spectacular converted Russian Orthodox chapel, influenced by Lady Zia’s Russian heritage. With stunning marble work, intricate ceiling, detailed stained glass and paintings, this would be such a unique and special place to get married.
The Mansion House
In the Mansion House, 50-120 guests can be accommodated for a ceremony, reception including wedding breakfast, and accommodation for the bride and groom.
Alternatively couples can choose to hold their wedding in Warren Weir, a separate accommodation for up to 290 guests including function suites and 84 bedrooms. Warren Weir also includes an indoor swimming pool and snooker room, and guests can take full advantage of the wider estate including the spa, golf course and walking and cycling trails. The wedding team at Luton Hoo have a number of wedding packages – Silver, Gold and Platinum – and the details for these can be found on their website. Alternatively, their wedding coordinators can tailor make a bespoke package to suit you and your special day.
Back in the Mansion House, we were shown the beautiful intricate original plug sockets, made of ivory, and a cabinet full of treasures. The Wernher collection was valued at over £400m 15 years ago and has only increased in value. This estate holds so much important history and we were so grateful to be given an insight to this magnificent house. Many thanks to Frederick for such an extensive tour.
Whilst we were on our tour, Frederick had sent up a bottle of their finest wine, chocolate strawberries and a welcome card to our suite, which was a lovely treat, so we enjoyed a glass of wine before dinner.
The hotel is home to the Wernher restaurant. During its refurbishment, half the total budget was spent on the restaurant alone, and the marble walls, three enormous chandeliers and plush décor reflect the sizeable investment.
Our dinner for the evening however, was in Adams Brasserie by the spa. The main restaurant, although opulent and extravagant, was not really suitable for our 6 year old daughter who was with us!
The food and wine in the brasserie were superb. I ordered a crab and coriander fishcake to start, followed by a grilled lamb cutlet with Moroccan spiced couscous.
This was followed by a delicious chocolate cherry dome with summer berries and Chantilly cream. The service was excellent and we happily made our way back to the Mansion House to enjoy our suite some more.
The bed was exquisite – I slept like a queen! And in the morning we were able to have our breakfast in the stunning Wernher restaurant. Once again the service was outstanding. Full English breakfasts served on beautiful china which I would highly recommend!
From beginning to end, we were thoroughly spoiled and we really didn’t want to leave! Taking advantage of the little golf buggy taxis again, we headed for a final swim in the spa before heading down the long, winding driveway out into the real world, imagining the famous people who had made the same journey before us.
Luton Hoo really is a spectacular place to visit and it was great to be invited the stay. The staff are attentive, friendly and knowledgeable of the estate’s broad history, the spa is lovely and the rooms are simply exquisite. This would be such a charming place to get married. Set well away from the hustle and bustle of life, you really can escape into a perfect bubble of dreamlike extravagance, surrounded by beauty and steeped in history.