Play tennis, wander the 1,900-acre garden, or just laze in one of the west wing's six bedrooms: a Blue room, a Rose room, and even—for stationery enthusiasts—a Buff room, but not one of them contains a television, let alone a mini-bar. All linens and mattresses are up to five-star quality, as are the rooms themselves, but does every bed have a phone beside it with a dedicated button for the concierge? No, it does not. And there isn’t a concierge, anyway. And yet, as one day melts into the next, you come to appreciate that while this may in effect be a hotel, it isn’t actually one. The layout and décor of Crom’s innumerable rooms and features owe themselves not to the brilliant mind of some designer, flown in for a weekend to trick the place out with trademark sconces and nooks, but to generation after generation of actual people who called this place home and lived in it accordingly. Everything is where it is, one gets the sense, because it was originally somewhere else, and then was moved, perhaps an inch at a time over centuries, to more harmoniously coexist with human form and desire. Want to set down your drink? Why, there’s a coaster, right there. Want to put up your feet? There’s a pouf. If the urge to read ever strikes, one simply reaches out one’s hand and feels it fall, as naturally as snow falls upon a landscape, onto the spindled spine of an old Maeve Binchy.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.