In a nutshell: A relaxed estate with aristocratic roots. The site was once owned by the 3rd Earl of Bute and was host to the infamous ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ scene in which Hugh Grant hides in a vanity cupboard while newlyweds consummate...
The luscious parklands of Luton Hoo – more than 1,000 acres laid out by Capability Brown – go some way to distracting guests from the jet engines of its noisy neighbour. The luxury hotel is just 10 minutes from Luton Airport Parkway train station, but the change in scenery couldn’t be more striking.
The main mansion has a delicate National Trust vibe – oil paintings, tapestries, red carpets and high ceilings – but you’re very much encouraged to sit on the seats. Some notable architects have put their stamp on the building. Robert Smirke, whose work includes the British Museum, added the portico entrance, while the mansard roof and grand staircase were designed by Mewes and Davis of Ritz fame.
Service is discreet and friendly; staff greet you with a cheery, unforced tone. The clientele is a mix of couples, hen nights, families and business types. On a chilly morning, expect to see one of the porters attending to the log fire in the entrance hall.
Bed and bath
Standard en-suites in the grade-I listed mansion are styled in keeping with the structure’s original decor (heavy curtains, floral prints and ornate quilted furniture). It’s difficult to find a spot with a disappointing view – even some of the cheapest rooms have balconies and different categories are spread out across the entire complex.
Tech is standard fare: plenty of switches and plugs, at least one TV in every room, but the free wifi is intermittent throughout the building. Every now and then you’ll hear the patter of feet and the creaking of floorboards in the night.
There’s plenty of space in the suites and regular rooms come with a reasonably sized wardrobe. Nighty-five per cent of the rooms have both a bath and shower. The four jets of the shower in the Queen Mary suite deliver a forceful blast inside a well-fortified glass pod.
Food and drink
Dinner in the Wernher restaurant is a relaxed affair; the serving staff are polite and the chefs lay on a variety of rich seasonal courses. Dress code is smart (jacket or tie for men).
For morning coffee, afternoon tea or post-dinner drinks, the lounge offers a comprehensive drinks menu. You won’t find an array of craft beers here, but there is an exhaustive list of wines and spirits. The room exudes Casino Royale chic with its chandeliers, wooden panelling and period furniture. Once again, the service is quick and discreet – and a pianist hops between jazz standards and reworked pop classics on a mini grand.
For informal dining, head to the country club’s brasserie or The 19th, a spacious bar that’s ideal for quick snacks and a swift pint.
Pools, spas and public areas
The grounds stretch so far that you could quite easily spend half a day getting lost in them. If you need a little more direction, there’s an 18-hole golf course, grass tennis courts, a gym and even clay pigeon shooting (£144 for one-to-one tuition).
The spa, complete with infinity pool, offers a variety of treatments at reasonable prices, from £45 for a facial to £250 for the “ultimate spa experience”.
Nuts and bolts
Room count: 144 across three complexes
Freebies: Tea and coffee facilities, bottled water and morning newspaper
In the bathroom: Toiletries by Molton Brown
Wifi: Free, but connection and speed varies throughout the site
Extra charges: The hotel offers late checkout, subject to availability, at £25 an hour
Minibar prices: Three packages: soft drinks (£15), wine/beer bar (£30), full bar (£150). Individual items can be ordered via room service
Disability access: Three fully accessible rooms with wet room and emergency cord. Many ground floor rooms are also suitable for people with limited mobility and wheelchair users
Pet policy: Charge of £30 per pet per night and includes a meal, bowl, bed, ball or toy, and treats
Best thing: The views
Worst thing: The wifi connection cuts out regularly
Perfect for: A romantic stopover before you fly off to a beach break
Instagram from: The grounds with the mansion in the backdrop
Room rate: Doubles from £320, B&B