Nestled in the Surrey Hills, Beaverbrook is a truly superb country house hotel. But does its new addition, The Village, add to its beguiling charm?

 Words: Jonathan Whiley

Nostalgia is not what it used to be. At Beaverbrook, old sport, it’s even better. The Grade II-listed former home of Lord Beaverbrook – press baron and member of Churchill’s war cabinet – it opened as a five-star hotel in 2016 following a £90m restoration. Its storied past as a hotspot for high society – guests included the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin and Ian Fleming – has ensured the French chateau-style mansion in the Surrey Hills remains an irresistible proposition.

I first visited in 2020 and was blown away. The interiors by Susie Atkinson (of Soho House fame) are colourful and quietly cool. The facilities are extensive; indoor and outdoor pools, health club, tennis courts and an Art Deco cinema where Beaverbrook would watch film reels with Churchill. The fizz is exclusive – a Blanc de Blanc made from a local vineyard – the food is sensational (particularly The Japanese Grill) and it has personality in abundance.  Unquestionably, I wrote at the time, it’s the best country house hotel in Blighty.

Four years on, is it still the crème de la crème? I returned following the launch of The Village – the recreation of a timeless English village set amid woodlands on the vast 470-acre Beaverbrook estate. Located on the site of the original Victorian Mickleham Down Estate’s workers cottages, there are 21 rooms set across 10 cottages; each named after literary figures from the Bronte sisters to CS Lewis.

Interior designer Nicola Harding has introduced vibrancy with pops of colour and patterned wallpaper and Sir Frank Lowe (Beaverbrook’s creative director – the fantastic bar in the main house bears his name) has curated the artwork. Guests saying in The Village have use of their own bikes and golf buggies (it’s a 7-minute drive to the main house) or they can request a pick-up to make use of all the hotel’s facilities.

While The Village has its own restaurant – Mrs Beeton’s, named after the Victorian domestic goddess serving classic British fare – and an event space (The Writer’s Block, accommodating 22 people), deep in the woods you do miss the buzz and atmosphere.

It’s perfectly nice but needs time to bed in – service was a touch patchy – and grow a personality of its own. For large groups, families or corporate away days, I think it’s perfect – a Dower House with 55 acres, five bedrooms, its own pool and helipad is particularly alluring – but for couples seeking a weekend break, I’m yet to be convinced compared to staying in the main house.

I’m measuring its new offspring against its own superlative benchmark. Beaverbrook is a special place and nostalgia in such literary-infused surroundings has set even greater expectations.