Travel: Feel like lord or lady of the manor at Luton Hoo
Holidaying in England to me conjures up an image of a tiny car trundling endlessly down a motorway in the rain, its passengers praying for one minute of sunshine during their time away.
My recent experience though only involved a 30 minute train ride out of London to a romantic English country manor surrounded by 1,000 acres of land. A much better picture.
Steeped in history, Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf and Spa has eccentric touches nestled in its grounds - a pet cemetery behind its rock garden and London black cabs that ferry guests around when the golf and relaxing activities have all gotten too much.
The suite we stayed in was one of the best available and, at £1,100 a night, it was pricey to say the least.
But the ornate fireplace, ceiling mural, Molton Brown goodies and luscious bouncy carpet made us feel immediately like the Lord and Lady of the manor. Quite at home.
After a walk around the huge grounds and down to the hotel's own riverside space we explored further on two wheels borrowed bikes.
The spa and bar facilities were both rather basic but the rich three-course meal at The Wernher Restaurant was very welcome after our day of exploration.
The salmon was particularly notable with a deep flavour and creamy texture. Even more welcome was the huge array of wines on offer, although the one we chose could certainly be bought for a fifth of the price at Waitrose.
Getting up and leaving the following day was not easy. The bed was much too comfy and the breakfast selection was far too tasty. We also nearly missed our taxi to the station after becoming engulfed in playing tennis and relaxing in the spa.
If you're looking for a quaint English escape Luton Hoo does a decent job and it's worth spending the extra cash. You may never want to leave though.
Go to lutonhoo.co.uk for prices and further information.