HIDDEN down a tree-lined Elstree lane is the most majestic of Tudor buildings – but step inside The Manor and you’re transported to a golden and French grey world of modern period elegance.
This is one of two Laura Ashley hotels in the UK, matching the splendour of its counterpart The Belsfield, which overlooks Lake Windermere in Bowness.
Peer out any of the rear rooms of the hotel and you can see London stretching out towards the horizon.
My children, Ben and Amelia, had never been to the UK capital before, but they gazed in awe at the amazing skyline, wondering just what tantalising secrets it would reveal on their trip the following day.
Standing at the bay window of the Mayfair suite, they would first enjoy an evening of luxurious calm at the Hertfordshire retreat, which is just a stroll away from the famous Elstree film studios. “You are staying in the best room in the whole hotel,” we were told upon booking in at the impressive reception area.
With a four-poster bed, two velvet sofas and a couple of opulent mirrors, it did seem like we would be staying somewhere special. And with typical Laura Ashley decor of a muted palette and timeless prints, it also felt very homely.
Located on the site of a 16th Century Tudor house, the old part of the hotel was once the home of English armaments manufacturer Commander Sir Arthur Trevor Dawson, before becoming a private country club in the 1930s after his death. It was then turned into an exquisite retreat, called the Edgwarebury, until it was bought in 2012 by the fashion and home furnishings company.
The hotel, set in 10 acres of picturesque woodland, has undergone a transformation and it is now a glorious conglomeration of contemporaneous design intertwined with a historical sensitivity. It also feels like you are in the heart of the countryside, with greenery on all sides.
Mayfair guests can relax in the lounge with ornate Italianite fireplace, have a drink while admiring the views from the terrace bar or be wined and dined in The Cavendish restaurant, where you can tuck into a variety of exquisite English dishes.
Elsewhere, within the 49-bedroom hotel, there are various conference rooms and a fully-equipped gym, while in the grounds out the back there is a giant chess set.
Thoughts, though, quickly turned to London and after the duty manager booked us a taxi to take us to Elstree & Borehamwood station, we headed to London on the train.
Twenty minutes later we arrived at St Pancras and immediately headed for the Underground and a tube to Leicester Square, bound for the Lego Store for Benjamin and the massive M&M’s World for Amelia.
Who knew you could squeeze so much out of a small bag of coloured sweets?
After wallets and purses were lightened, it was attraction time and we decided on the Science Museum followed by the National History Museum, which is literally next door – both are free, so you can afford to whip quickly round one in order to fit in a second one.
With numerous sights to marvel at, including the amazing escalator ride up through the earth and the presence of a huge blue whale suspended from the ceiling in one of the rooms in the National History Museum, the children barely knew where to look next as their eyes and brains, along with ours, were immersed in a wealth of fantastical knowledge from all directions.
And so at the end of a day in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, it was back to The Manor’s haven of calm for two worn-out children and their parents. Bliss.
Standard rooms start from £99 per night, while The Mayfair Suite starts from £209 per night.
A special winter warmer offer, which includes an overnight stay in The Mayfair Suite, plus breakfast and dinner, is available from £149 per night.
For more details go to lauraashleyhotels.com or call 020 8327 4700.