If you love the early-20th-century glamour depicted in the hit PBS television series Downton Abbey as much as I do, England’s Tylney Hall—an elegant country manor house turned hotel—might be your cup of tea.
Just an hour southwest of London, Tylney Hall Hotel and its 66 acres of Hampshire woodlands, lakes and gardens welcome you in aristocratic style—after all, the estate shares a similar history with the fictional home of Lord and Lady Grantham. Both were the extravagant homes of earls, and both served as soldiers’ convalescent hospitals during WWI.
In fact, the film location for Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, is just 21 miles away. Though you can tour Highclere Castle (read “My Pilgrimage to the Real Downton Abbey”) you can’t spend the night: it’s privately owned. All the more reason to stay at Tylney Hall Hotel, which features luxurious old-fashioned bedrooms with contemporary bathrooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, and fine dining.
Living Like an Aristocrat at Tylney Hall Hotel
My husband and I felt like Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley—minus the elegant clothes and jewels—during our two-night stay at Tylney Hall.
Our room was upstairs, and every time I regally walked down the walnut-lined staircase with its carved banisters, I felt sure that Carson the Butler was going to offer me a glass of sherry.
Far less portly and stodgy than old Carson, the staff was congenial and ready to answer our questions or requests. They brought us canapés and pre-dinner drinks on silver platters in Tylney’s ornate Italian Lounge, which easily could have qualified as a Downton Abbey set.
Our large bedroom had a private balcony with views over a redwood-lined lawn and the green woodlands. Just below, was a croquet set all assembled and waiting; we didn’t play, as we were far too busy strolling through the formal Italian Gardens. Beyond that, we went rambling down to Boathouse Lake, where we could sit on a bench and gaze at the red-bricked mansion framed by foliage.
The spa at Tylney Hall Hotel uses organic aromatherapy and Kirsten Florian products and features a full spa menu of massages, wraps, facials and more.
I enjoyed the Garden of Dreams treatment, which started with a gentle exfoliation followed by a lavender-oil massage with warm stones and finished with a relaxing scalp and facial massage. It was the perfect antidote to the stress of our first day of driving on the left side of the road!
Eating Like a King
In the Oak Room restaurant (open to the public with a reservation), we enjoyed a white-tablecloth, candlelit dinner accompanied by soft music played on the grand piano. I enjoyed a filet of sole with caper sauce and new potatoes with green beans. Another bonus was a selection of French wines from just across the Channel.
The Oak Room’s menu emphasizes local fare, which was at its best on the cheese board that I chose for dessert. I selected a brie, a blue, a cow’s-milk cheddar, and goat cheeses—all from no more than 50 miles away.
Posh, Yet Green
Owned by Elite Hotels, Tylney Hall incorporates a number of sustainability efforts into its operation to ensure that this historic mansion will save this piece of the environment for centuries to come.
- Recycles glass, paper, batteries, light bulbs
- Composts food waste
- Encourages towel and sheet reuse in all guestrooms to save on laundry water.
- Is investigating the conversion of cooking oil into bio-diesel (to run estate machinery and company cars).
- Purchases sustainably grown food and locally produced consumables, including Fair Trade beverages.
- Maintains a zero landfill-waste strategy.
- Minimizes electricity and heating to unoccupied floors and wings during periods of low occupancy.
England’s Tylney Hall Hotel offers everything a Downton Abbey fan like me could ask for: a luxurious historic house, acres of lush woodlands to explore, and eco-sensibility. Now that’s style of the Downton Abbey kind.
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor
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