Best weekend break in the UK for… Pretending you’re royalty.
Where to stay: A short drive from London, Berkshire has long been associated with royalty thanks to Windsor Castle, Eton College, and Cliveden House. The Duchess of Sussex famously stayed at the Grade I-listed property the night before her wedding, but monarchs have been frequenting the Chiltern Hills property since the 17th century. First built by the Duke of Buckingham for his mistress in 1666, this stately home perched on the Thames is surrounded by more than 350 acre of grounds featuring water gardens, a maze, and quite possibly the most infamous swimming pool in Britain, where John Profumo first laid eyes on Christine Keeler. (Read current owner Natalie Livingstone’s gripping The Mistresses of Cliveden before you go to get a true sense of its absolutely mind-blowing history.) As sumptuous as each of the 47 rooms are, nothing quite compares with the main rooms. The dining room was transported piece by piece from France’s Château d’Asnières in 1897, are there are still 18th-century tapestries, suits of armour, and portraits lining the walls of the historic Great Hall.
Where to eat: Berkshire is, of course, home to Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred The Fat Duck, where dishes are akin to magic tricks: foiegras parfait shaped to resemble a hyper-realistic mandarin orange; mixed sashimi on tapioca “sand”, eaten while listening to the sound of waves; a recreation of Alice in Wonderland’s mock turtle soup… Those who are less than keen on molecular gastronomy, however, should visit Blumenthal’s incredibly pretty gastropub, The Hind’s Head, instead. Set within a 15th-century hunting lodge, its menu is an homage to classic British dishes, from Scotch eggs to kidney puddings.
Where to go: At more than 1,000 years old, Windsor Castle is one of the most impressive structures in Britain, and reportedly the Queen’s favourite of her residences. Explore the treasures of the State Rooms – including Queen Mary’s exquisite Doll’s House from the 1920s – before strolling through the rose-filled grounds.