Cliveden Calling

Chewton Glen

Located in the English countryside, the hotel and its Spring Cottage make a comeback.

It’s no secret that Cliveden, one of England’s great country-house hotels, has seen better days. The good news is that the former Astor mansion—a 50-minute drive from central London—is being restored to the condition it deserves. And the renovation of Spring Cottage, Cliveden’s guesthouse on the banks of the Thames, is now complete. Built in 1813 for the Countess of Orkney, the red-brick-and-beamed cottage now sleeps six. The impeccable bathrooms are in white marble; the floors are a mix of parquet, Victorian tile and soft wool carpet. Guests can order butler-served meals or cook for themselves in a sage-and-duck-egg-blue kitchen, which, together with the circular sitting room, forms the heart of the house. Cliveden’s boathouse is nearby, and cottage guests have access to the Suzy Ann—a restored 1911 wooden clinker boat—which makes for picnic cruises reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh. And the estate has history worthy of fiction: Spring Cottage is where Christine Keeler was staying in 1961 when she caught the eye of John Profumo, the British secretary of state for war. Their affair, and the scandal that followed, eventually brought down the government. Today the mood is tranquil; this is a house that invites you to go barefoot and curl up by the fire. Cottage rentals start at $2,800 a night; Taplow, Berkshire; 44-1628/668-561;