You’ll never be keener for a Milton Keynes staycation than after a visit to the newly refurbished Horwood House, a beautiful Grade II listed Manor House that blends essence of old with a new contemporary chapter. Editor Sophie Ritchie divulges more…
Turning off from the main road, there’s a picturesque elongated drive to reach Horwood House (and it’s spacious car park) but it’s not this that impresses me. There’s a sleek, stylishly airy lobby as I haul my overnight bags over the entrance – but it’s not this that impresses me. It’s the warmth, the work ethic and the welcoming nature of Horwood House’s team that firmly cements an excellent first impression – as soon as I arrive, I can tell I’m in for a treat.
A convergence of new beginnings blended with traces of old, Horwood House reopened its doors in May 2021 following an extensive £5.5 million pound refurbishment. A hotel determined to shake up its traditional somewhat archaic reputation and Jacobean past, guests can enjoy the benefits of both the beautiful Grade II listed Manor House and a carefully-carved modernisation of the hotel’s other buildings – where sophisticated glamour and contemporary chic rooms await. The expensive facelift has surely paid off – if Horwood House’s interior designers were plastic surgeons, the collagen crowd would all be beating down the door.
The property’s 165 bedrooms, which are found along endless corridors (I find myself tracing my steps a few times) are spaciously stylish, filled with comfortable furnishings and pops of bright colour. The makeover has meant many have been resized, reshaped and of course restyled – resulting in light and warm abodes.
Room categories range from a standard Classic Double to a grand Stable King, resulting in something for every guest’s budget. I stay in an Executive Suite, which is ideal for something both luxurious and surprisingly affordable.
The little details make all the difference – the quirky bathroom tiles add fun ambience, the bed faces the window so I wake up with natural light and the coffee/tea tray is so well-stocked with options I imagine it could keep a local café going for at least a week. The flat screen Samsung TV is large (as is the bed) and the ample floor space means little chance of feeling cramped as the suite is split into two areas.
The Food & Drink
A well-known wedding venue, it’s no surprise that the hotel’s main restaurant, Harry’s Bar & Kitchen, is full of couples when we head down for dinner. Despite my distinct lack of fiancée however, it’s still gorgeous.
A herbaceous botanical arrangement hangs from the ceiling above, paying homage to the restaurant’s inspiration (it’s named after Harry Thrower, the original Head Gardener of Horwood House and father of famed gardener, Percy Thrower who was born at the property). The foliage and decor aims to ‘bring the outside in,’ as GM Caroline Morrone tells me proudly.
This is reflected in the menu too – we feast upon plenty of plant-based creations (although the menu is as varied as the hotel’s past, with a mix of meat, fish and vegan dishes all available).
Notable highlights for plant-based foodies include the Oven Roasted Cauliflower, a crispy mouthful paired with sea-salted cashews and a creamy soy yoghurt dressing, as well as cumin-packed Chickpea Fritters accompanied with spiced avocado and shiny pomegranate jewels. For those who like things plain and simple on a plate, I also eyeball a rather enormous Angus Beef burger making its way to the table next to me.
Things to Try
1 A short 20-minute drive from Horwood House, indulge in a spot of property ogling with a visit to Stowe House. A grade I listed country house with ballrooms galore, over 300 years of history awaits to be explored at this ‘pleasure palace’. Tip: book direct to ensure premium parking and easy access.
2 Live out your own Bridgerton fairytale with a picnic on Horwood House’s lawns, thanks to a special Picnic in the Park package. Featuring a picturesque array of carefully-cut sandwiches, sweet treats, cakes and of course, quintessential scones, the experience is completed with blankets and served in a beautiful wicker basket. For anyone wanting to feel like a princess for the day and explore the hotel’s 38 acres of manicured gardens, it’s a must.
3 For the water babies, nearby Willen Lake offers everything from pedalo hire to sunset paddle boarding sessions. Windsurfing, wakeboarding and even open water swimming – you’ll find it here and more.
The Wordrobe Verdict
A new lick of (£5.5 million) paint goes an awfully long way. Beautifully furnished and brimming with culinary charm, make the most of rural Buckinghamshire countryside with a stay at Horwood House. The hotel that goes above and beyond for its guests, this new chapter is guaranteed to lead to an entire Epic of superb staycations.
Make it happen
Where: Mursley Road, Little Horwood, Buckinghamshire, MK17 0PH
How: To find out more and make a booking, please visit horwoodhouse.co.uk or phone 01296 722100