Proximity to London has placed South Buckinghamshire County's hotels midstream in the flow of British history. Witness to the stray croquet ball that killed Frederick, Prince of Wales, to the misadventures of a notorious 18th-century highwayman, to the planting of tulip trees that are now Europe's largest and to the final years of a British Field Marshal, these establishments are typical of the hotels awaiting South Bucks' visitors.
The Bull Hotel
The Bull Hotel, a 1688 coaching inn, stands on the old London to Oxford route 10 miles west of Windsor Castle. In a garden setting overlooking the town green, the Bull combines old architectural features like divided light windows and beamed ceilings with contemporary rooms. All accommodations have Broadband Internet access and flat-screen televisions with interactive television. For a fee, guests who leave their laptops at home can access the Internet via their televisions and a provided keyboard. They can also use the system to watch the latest film releases. Upgraded-view rooms may have Jacuzzi tubs, walk-in showers and mini-bars. Children younger than 14 stay free; pets are welcome for an additional nightly fee. Guests have discounted rates at a nearby gym. Sunday lunch at the Beeches Restaurant incorporates herbs from the hotel garden. Weekday entrees in late 2010 include dishes like sage- and pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin served with parsnip crisp-topped potatoes, slow-braised cabbage and Neapolitan sauce. The Jack Shrimpton bar gives a nod to the legendary highwayman. The garden-view Conservatory offers light meals.
Taplow House Hotel
Europe's two largest tulip trees grace the grounds of this 18th-century Elizabethan manor's descendant. Possibly planted during 1751 reconstruction after a fire destroyed the original house, the trees watch over six acres of landscape grounds and more than 30 luxurious guest accommodations. All have individual Georgian decor, satellite televisions and Wi-Fi. Three suites have extensive garden views. Boasting two Automobile Association (AA) rosettes for outstanding cuisine, the high-ceilinged Berry Restaurant serves lunches and dinners highlighting British produce. A representative 2010 evening entrée is 10-Friday Scottish beef fillet in Guinness jus, served with beef and horse radish tortellinis, watered broad beans and sautéed baby spinach. The garden-view Terrace serves snacks, sandwiches and desserts, as does the armchair- and fireplace-adorned bar.
Seventeenth-century Stoke Place, in tiny Stoke Poges 30 minutes outside London, once belonged to Britain's Field Marshal Sir George Howard. Its 30 spacious boutique bedrooms have luxury baths and sweeping views of 25 acres of grounds They combine contemporary decor with complimentary Internet access, flat-screen televisions, state-of-the-art entertainment systems. Suites have fireplaces, bay windows and freestanding bathtubs. Guests are free to fish from the lake or try their luck at games of croquet or outdoor chess. A personal trainer conducts outdoor fitness sessions; guests can indulge in in-room spa treatments. The Garden Room Restaurant serves seasonal, contemporary British cuisine and daily traditional afternoon tea.
The former home of the Astors, Cliveden is a Grade I-listed, ultra-luxurious hotel and National Trust property. Cliveden has sheltered British royalty -- an errant croquet ball struck Frederick, Prince of Wales a fatal blow here in 1751 -- and world leaders. Today, a storybook play area makes children as welcome as historical giants. Dogs arrive to their own treats. Antique-furnished guest rooms with period baths, private terraces and fireplaces are typical of Cliveden. Guests have access to the Pavilion Spa, tennis courts, fitness center, National Trust walled garden with outdoor pool and sweeping grounds running to the edge of the River Thames. Vintage boats provide river outings. Dining venues include the informal Club Room, the intimate and formal Waldo's Restaurant and the garden-view Terrace Room.