Weekend Escape: Discover the Surrey Hotel Loved by Elizabeth Taylor
Boasting influential design, cutting-edge cuisine and a glamorous history, Beaverbrook hotel in Surrey is an escapist fantasy just 30 minutes from London
Words: Hannah Hopkins
Visiting Beaverbrook is like staying at the cool country estate of the most fashionable couple you know. Once the home of media mogul Lord Max Beaverbrook, it played host to wild parties with the Who’s Who of 20th-century icons, including Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming, Charlie Chaplin and Elizabeth Taylor. And it’s this bygone hedonism and commitment to having a good time that underlies the fabric of this stylish hotel.
Take, for instance, its Roaring Twenties-style Parrot Bar – a showstopping space of dusky pink walls, bronzed furnishings, teal chairs, tropical prints and tassel lamps that transports you straight into the world of Gatsby. It also happens to serve cocktails worthy of Soho’s savviest mixologists.
The swish interiors are the work of Susie Atkinson; one of London’s most influential designers, who has transformed spaces for the Soho House group and countless celebrities. Through Susie’s skilfull eyes, and after a £90m renovation, the entire hotel feels current, but not trendy, comfortable and completely individual.
Each room is named after a starry guest of the house, and Atkinson designed them to reflect their occupants – think gold lion taps in Fleming’s room, and a double shower in Elizabeth Taylor’s bathroom. In the Churchill room, guests can use his original sink and sit at a desk where he used to paint.
The rooms are undeniably sexy, with king-size beds, deep bathtubs, Bamford toiletries and a cheeky bottle of Sipsmith Gin. Suites come with fireplaces and private terraces looking onto the South Downs.
The rooms are undeniably sexy, with king-size beds, deep bathtubs and a cheeky bottle of Sipsmith Gin
At The Dining Room restaurant, Head Chef Taiji Maruyama of Nobu fame serves up innovative Japanese food. Alongside small bites of Japanese tacos and crispy rice squares, you can tuck into zingy yellowtail tiradito, popcorn shrimp, cabbage in sake butter, and the showstopper – seabass nigiri topped with crispy ants. So far, so Instagrammable.
Soho Farmhouse regulars will love The Garden House, a cosy property separate to the main hotel and designed by Nicola Harding. It has 11 bedrooms and separate cottages, all decorated with mix-and-match vintage furniture, floral prints and pre-loved Penguin books.
There’s also a cookery school and an Anglo-Italian restaurant serving up simple, yet elegant dishes – don’t miss the roast suckling pig with green apple chutney and the fluffiest crackling.
No matter which part of the hotel you stay in, there is a palpable sense of energy and fun. Doormen wear 1920s-style caps and cricket jumpers, bartenders wear white shirts and braces, and there is even a cinema room with original Art Deco panelling that you can book for screenings. In the beautifully manicured grounds, there’s also a den and a £75k treehouse (for the kids, of course…).
The only thing missing is a spa. Good news then, that Beaverbrook intends to open a spa in a matter of months. It will have its own cottage garden, botanic-inspired therapies and a deli serving wood-oven pizzas and juices.
Plus Beaverbrook hotel is only a 10-minute taxi ride from Leatherhead, which is just 30 minutes from Waterloo station. The only question that remains… is it too soon to book again?
Rooms at Beaverbrook hotel in Surrey start from £330 per night. To book see beaverbrook.co.uk