Beaverbrook, set on the fringes of the genteel Surrey Hills, is a new, modern take on the classic English country house hotel. A winding drive brings guests to the pillared entrance of a Grade II-listed Victorian manor that’s home to 18 cavernous neoclassical bedrooms.
The estate’s other property, the 11-bedroom, farmhouse-chic Garden House, offers cosier rooms more suited to families, particularly those with young children.
And the general vibe?
Despite the heavy-duty history associated with Beaverbrook (formerly known as Cherkley Court, it was once owned by newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook, who counted Elizabeth Taylor, Ian Fleming, Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill among his regular guests) and the formally dressed staff, the welcome at Beaverbrook is warm, polite and attentive.
Interiors in the main house are all about graceful simplicity with quirky furnishings, sky-high ceilings, original Art Deco fittings, a grand-staircased hall adorned with a rare abstract Gerhard Richter tapestry and conspicuous views across the neatly terraced gardens and wooded valley beyond.
Which room should I book at Beaverbrook?
Depending on whether you want grand or cosy, couples would be equally happy in any one of the bedrooms or suites in the main house, or the less formal Garden House.
If you’re with kids, our tip is to go for two ‘Guest’ rooms in the Garden House (try the lovely, interconnecting, ‘Lovage’ and ‘Rosemary’ rooms) or book the adjoining two-bedroom cottage all to yourselves.
Garden House rooms come with a bottle of complimentary Sipsmith sloe gin (here’s our guide to the best sloe gins), fluffy dressing gowns (including cute mini kids’ versions), Bamford toiletries, rolltop baths and large walk-in rainfall showers.
What’s good to drink?
The main house’s Parrot Bar is a grandiose room with huge windows looking out across the formal gardens, and a small Twenties-style bar manned by smartly braced mixologists – we went for a pre-dinner Yaguara Passion (passion fruit, lychee, lime and pomegranate with Yaguara cachaça), which was pleasantly refreshing but lacked any alcoholic kick; and a vivid, wonderfully creamy Green Tea Pisco Sour (matcha-infused pisco with lime juice and Angostura bitters).
And to eat?
Food is taken seriously at Beaverbrook, from the brave (and, as it turns out, inspired) decision to house a high-end Japanese restaurant inside the main house, to a fully-kitted-out cookery school and an ambitious long-term plan to cultivate a kitchen garden and orchard on the estate.
It’s a bold move placing a Japanese grill in such a traditional English setting, and, initially, it’s a curious experience to be served sashimi in the hotel’s stately Victorian dining room, but any scepticism quickly dissipates. Led by head chef Taiji Maruyama (formerly of Kiru and Nobu), the Dining Room’s food is exceptional.
We went for one of two 10-course chef’s selections, which was masterly in its execution: particularly outstanding were the yellow tail tiradito with a dazzlingly potent yuzu soy, kizami wasabi and aubergine; the smoky grilled wagyu with succulent shimeji mushrooms and hoba miso on a hoba leaf atop a charcoal-fuelled shichirin; and the luscious green basil sorbet housed within a tingling, pop-in-the-mouth lemonade foam to finish.
A meal here is reason enough to come to Beaverbrook.
The Garden House has its own, less formal, restaurant – here, head chef Kaz Suzuki has created an English country garden menu with an Italian twist.
Think pasta dishes such as linguini of Cornish crab with samphire, fresh chilli and garlic oil, or a beautifully rich, luscious ragu of slow-cooked duck and al dente rigatoni with sweet Tokyo turnips and shaved pecorino.
Options that veer more towards that English garden (rather than the rolling Tuscan hills) include Barracks Farm lamb, dry-aged beef fillet and rib of beef, all given the Josper grill treatment.
When summer’s in full swing, the adjacent kitchen garden, run by friendly head gardener Elliot Beveridge, will give the chefs a chance to let their plant-based dishes really shine, too.
What’s the breakfast like?
Breakfast choices in the Garden House range from a sensibly sized full English (pork and apple sausage, poached egg, mushroom, black pudding and vine tomatoes) to buttermilk pancakes with crispy bacon, bananas and maple syrup, poached duck egg and avocado with bacon chutney and hollandaise, and smoked haddock and poached egg with parsley and lemon.
Any other food experiences I shouldn’t miss?
Alongside the Garden House’s bustling kitchen is a spacious cookery school, well stocked with high-spec ovens and KitchenAids. Courses here range from ‘pasta from scratch’ to ‘perfect sushi rice and simple maki’ and ‘chocolate work’, and are taught by in-house chefs, including Taiji Maruyama.
Bespoke classes can also be arranged for both adults and children.
Is it family-friendly?
The kids’ menu at the restaurant plays it safe with the likes of a well-seasoned chicken Milanese with broccoli, peas and skinny fries, a hearty linguini bolognese and a moreishly meaty heritage beef slider – “absolutely epic” according to our four-year-old tester. For breakfast, there’s even a mini full English, as well as smoked salmon and scrambled egg, or sliced avocado on brown toast with olive oil and sea salt.
Should you wish to escape the little ones for an afternoon, the Sharky & George kids club (weekends only) will keep them happily occupied.
If the weather’s good there’ll be an expedition down to a large children’s treehouse for some outdoor adventures; should the heavens open, the Orangery has a big TV for films, plus board games, table football, air hockey, remote-controlled cars, beans bags, comfy sofas and lots of books.
There’s also a cinema room in the main house showing Disney movies during the day and, in the grounds, the Hide Out is a smartly constructed playground of tunnels, slides, bridges and walkways.
The hotel can help you arrange a babysitter too, should you want an evening to yourselves.
What can I do in the local area?
Besides the hotel’s 400 acres of grounds and woodlands to explore (staff can provide you with an estate map, as well as a picnic hamper, blankets and umbrellas), nearby day trips include Denbies vineyard, which offers tours and tastings, and Albury, which supplies the Garden House restaurant’s sparkling and rosé wines, and is open on Saturdays.
Local National Trust properties include Polesden Lacey, Box Hill, Leith Hill Tower and Gatton Park.
And families with young kids will enjoy an afternoon at Bocketts Farm Park, a large working farm less than two miles from the hotel where animals (pigs, cows, sheep, goats, llamas, rabbits and chickens) can be fed and petted, and pony rides, tractor rides, jumping pillows and giant slide towers are there for the enjoying.
Beaverbrook is a luxury hotel that goes big on comfort but doesn’t take itself too seriously – the perfect place to treat yourself, or to mark a special occasion.
Stay and dine here over the summer months when the restaurants are making the most of the kitchen garden, and keep an eye out later in the year for the opening of the estate’s new Coach House Spa, complete with treatment rooms, hammam, pools and deli.
Rooms at Beaverbrook start from £195, room only (beaverbrook.co.uk). Cookery classes from £75 for 90 minutes, including a meal at the end.