Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club

A country haven 45 mins from London

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Words by Tanya Grimson
October 13th, 2016

Nestled a short 45 minute train journey away from the hustle and bustle of London, lies the unspoiled countryside of Hertfordshire and the Jacobean estate, Hanbury Manor. Set against the backdrop of 200 acres of parkland it is easy to see why city dwellers take the opportunity to escape in the grandeur of the estate and soak up the tranquility that its neighbouring areas and grounds provide.

The Hanbury Manor, previously known as Poles, has a beguiling history, originally built in the 18th century and passed down through generations of the Hanbury Family, the hotel has undergone major transformations throughout its history and was ultimately bought by the Marriott hotel group in 1990 and the name Hanbury Manor was born.

Situated just five minutes away from Ware town, you are greeted by a beautiful, long tree-lined drive up to the majestic red brick estate stretched out in contrast to the lush green grass of the parklands and surrounding  golf course.

Upon arrival in the reception area you are met by high ceilings and dark wood panelling detail that is signature to the overall stately feel of the hotel. To the immediate right lies the drawing room (Oak Hall and Cocktail Bar). The Oak Hall is magnificent, its grandeur and heritage charm is evident in every feature, from its velvet and check furnishings, to the beautiful large classic wooden curved staircase at the end of the room. Add an open fire and wide panelled windows with nooks for reading books and you are only one step away from feeling like you are in an episode of Downtown Abby awaiting your butler to serve you afternoon tea.

The Oak Hall
The Oak Hall

To the left of the Oak Hall is the equally decadent Zodiac Room. This room again celebrates its history by preserving the decor with cascading chandeliers, white table clothes and gold gilded portraits. Although the Zodiac Room serves dinner and the ‘ultimate’ afternoon tea during the day (a must to experience the true royalty of the room) it feels that a special celebration dinner or event might be more befitting of such a room. The other restaurant (the Oakes Grill) is the more popular of the options due to its relaxed vibe, setting and modern décor. Breakfast is also served here. However, if you want to go even more casual and are looking for more “pub grub” style fare, then the golf club house restaurant Vardon’s is your first pit stop. Don’t expect a large menu but the British classics such as fish ‘n chips and pies are on offer with sports on in the background.

 

Zodiac Room
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Zodiac Room

If you fancy sampling some of the local neighbouring cuisine take a short stroll (approx. 8 minutes) down their beautiful drive and experience a slice of true British culture by dining and drinking in a wonderfully quintessential British country pub called the The Sow and Pigs, serving traditional hearty cuisine. Or take a short taxi ride into the town of Ware and choose from a selection of eateries such as the hipster Saracens Head on the canal, if the weather permits take a pew on their canal seats and watch the world and boats go by.

The Sow and Pigs
Saracens Head

However, the estate’s real charm not only lies in the hotel itself but in the area it presides in. Its neighbouring countryside plays host to many cultural day excursions that it would be a shame to not explore the truly beautiful countryside and all that it offers.

Only eight miles away lies the home and foundation of one of England’s most renowned and prolific artists and sculptors of the post-war period, Henry Moore. The Henry Moore Foundation, located in Perry Green and only a 15 minute taxi ride away from the hotel is a must for anyone interested in art. The foundation opened its brand new visitor centre in July which has a beautiful modern café and one of the nicest, albeit, small gift shops I have seen, selling a selection of artist treasures and Moore sketches in keepsake form for children and adults alike. The real beauty of the Henry Moore foundation is that Moore chose to use his own landscape (backgarden) as his exhibition platform, using his 60 acres as the backdrop to his sculptural creations, which are magnificent when seen in this natural environment.

Henry Moore Visitor Centre
Henry Moore gift shop

But, one of the most interesting things about the visit was the tour of Moore’s own family home and the part of his home he opened to dignitaries, royalty and equally applauded artists of his generation. Inside of this very ’70s styled décor (everything is left as it was when he died) there is inspiration in every turn, from plinths he collected and weirdly shaped rocks from beaches that inspired future creations. Although he himself never traveled to these exotic destinations, he was an avid collector and his home is filled with artifacts from Mexico, Africa and Egypt. He was also notably remembered not only for collecting unusual and coveted artifacts, but collecting other artists’ work in the form of a barter system. He would swap his work for sketches from Picasso, in fact one of Picasso’s sketches sits randomly on the wall of a very small kitchen right beside the kitchen sink. A Diego Rivera piece also take its place in the cabinet right inside his hallway so that the eye is brought to his prize possessions upon arrival into his home. Although it is a very cramped space with many nooks and crannies and reclining ceilings as their old house merges with the new, it is extraordinary to be given a glimpse into the mind of the creator and to once again see art showcased in its most natural of form.

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Another key place to visit in the area is Knebworth House (although it has just closed for the winter months and will re-open in March). It is easy to see how you can fill your day in this stately home and its garden. There is a charm about Knebworth that again celebrates its true heritage, from its magnificent garden and maze or gain some historical perspective as you listen to the estate’s history and its contribution to the British society, including learning of visits from national icons Dickens and Churchill. If you are visiting with the family, the children won’t be disappointed as they can roam free in a magical setting from exploring the Dinosaur Trail and trying to spot the 72 life sized dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures dotted around the lanscape, or they can simply cut loose in their adventure playground, complete with bouncy caste, drop line and zip wire. Despite the fact that Knebworth House is closed for the winter it will be open for seasonal events such as the Pumpkin Trail at Halloween and the reading of ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the House. For more information and tickets, see their events programme at www.knebworthhouse.com

Knebworth House
Mammoths in Spring

For witches and wizards alike, a trip to the Warner Bros. Studios is a must. Hidden on the outskirts of London, in a seemingly normal, uninteresting building lies the magical world of Harry Potter. For the better part of a decade, all eight films in the Harry Potter franchise were filmed in these studios and now that filming is complete, the studios are open to the public.

From Platform 9 3/4 to Diagon Alley, the studio tour offers a glimpse at the wizarding world and even provides the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly on a broomstick, learn how to cast a few necessary spells and taste the delicacy that is Butterbeer, all the while seeing the original sets and props used in the films. For die hard Harry Potter fans or just the young at heart, the Harry Potter Studio Tour is not an experience you’ll forget anytime soon but don’t forget to book your tickets in advance as they aren’t available to buy on the day. And don’t forget the demand will be even greater thanks to the release of the first instalment from JK Rowling’s new wizarding world trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, due out on 17th November.

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The Great Hall - TM & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR
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Diagon Alley - TM & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR

Hanbury Manor not only provides the perfect solace with its fantastic amenities, spellbinding landscape and British charm, but it also provides the ideal passport for an adventure into the countryside, the opportunity to sample the local charms and indulge in some truly engaging cultural activities. Situated only 45 minutes from London, you have the best of both worlds, the chance to escape the hustle and bustle or dip your toes into both sides of life and find the right balance in between.

For more information or to make a booking see http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/stngs-hanbury-manor-marriott-hotel-and-country-club/

For spa treatments book online at www.marriotspas.co.uk


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All images of Hanbury Manor and Henry Moore foundation are taken by Agata Stoinska and copyrighted to maven46 ©