Eat Your Way Through the English Countryside Like These Royal Couples
If royal fever has you itching for an adventure of your own across the pond, let these suggestions further ignite your imagination (and Pinterest boards). With surprisingly affordable stays—although we acknowledge that’s a highly relative term—at bed and breakfasts and castles in the English countryside, these three trips are each inspired by three iconic royal duos: Diana and Charles, Kate and Will and Meghan and Harry. Pick your own adventure.
Meghan and Harry
Meghan and Harry know how to travel in style—and have stayed in surprisingly casual spots given Harry’s royal status. They rented a seaside house in the tiny fishing village of Tromvik, Norway, earlier in 2017. And while that AirBnB cost around $400 a night, it’s more accessible than, say, a private island. They’ve also stayed at Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Jamaica’s Montego Bay when Harry’s best mate got married (it’s where JFK and Jackie O honeymooned, and countless other celebs have stayed). The couple did the glamping thing at Meno a Kwena camp in Botswana, where luxe-outfitted camps go for $1000+ a night.
The couple also plays close to home, too: like when Harry participated in the Audi Polo Challenge in Ascot, Berkshire, earlier this spring. Guesses are still out as to where they’ll honeymoon.
Where to stay and eat
If you want to have a royally inspired Berkshire vacay of your own, stay at the Cliveden, a 350-year old country house just an hour west of London. It has the requisite tennis courts and marble-ensconced spas, but more importantly, there is a flotilla. (It’s basically a collection of boats.) For £195, you can pop Champagne on one and rent it for an hour on the Thames (Champagne extra, FYI)—it’s straight out of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. There’s also, bien sûr, horse riding through the English countryside, falconry (which apparently British people love), and shooting clay pigeons (we are looking into this further).
When all those aristocratic out-of-doors activities has made one hungry, duck into the hotel’s plushly appointed tan and teal dining room at the André Garrett Restaurant. A Sunday brunch might include plates of guinea fowl and potato terrine, or Chateaubriand steak with Yorkshire pudding. Rustic fare, but elevated presentation.
And, of course, don’t forget afternoon tea: starting at £37 per person, it features smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and no less than thirteen hand-selected teas.
Diana and Charles
Details of their marriage aside, Diana and Charles displayed impeccable taste as a couple. For their honeymoon, they took the British Royal Train from Waterloo station to Broadlands Estate before setting off on an eleven-day cruise of Tunisia, Sardinia, Greece and Egypt on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Located about two hours southwest of London in picture-perfect Hampshire, it’s also where Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip spent their honeymoon.
Not surprisingly, the main estate house isn’t open for vacation rentals, although it will be open for daytime tours in the summer of 2018. (Although, if you’re in the market for what looks to be a longer-term residential property—or, adorably, grazing land—they might be renting.)
Where to stay and eat
If you have your heart set on staying at the Broadlands Estate, the Lee Manor Bed & Breakfast is a surprisingly affordable way to do it—as of this writing, rooms start at $138 per night on Expedia. And that includes breakfast with free-range eggs from the chickens pecking in the backyard. (There are sheep and horses, too, all amid lush countryside cut by the River Test: it’s all straight out of a 19th-century English countryside painting.)
The few rooms are well appointed with four poster beds, floral-painted sinks (apparently that was a thing?) and garden views. If you’re feeling like doing more than nesting, there are outings covering fishing in the nearby river, falconry and even a “chicken keeping course,” which covers the best breeds of chicken to raise and how to protect them from predators. Could this place be any cuter?
Delivering on its titular promise of being a bed and breakfast, the morning meal is well thought-out here, with smoked salmon and watercress on home baked bread, and scrambles featuring rich yellow yolks.
Kate and Will
For those with more contemporary, yet classic tastes, Kate and Will’s honeymoon in the Seychelles offers inspiration—they vacationed on a private island, among the nation’s 115. Other honeymoon details were unsurprisingly mum, but the couple also vacationed there in 2007—and apparently made a promise to each other to get married one day—in addition to having jetted to other fantastic spots like Kenya, where William famously proposed on a safari at Lewa Safari Camp. (The couple’s past dream-worthy destinations include Méribel, a ski resort in the French alps; the Hotel du Paris in Biarritz; and a private villa on Mustique, a Caribbean island.)
If you want to stick to a vacay in the British clime, however, Scotland’s Balmoral Castle is a royal mainstay, having been in the family since 1852. It’s attended dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher (who apparently loathed trips there, actually). For more contemporary escapes, however, check out the town of Anglesey, Wales—it’s the island where Kate and Will rented a farmhouse as newlyweds for—get this—only £750 per month.
Where to stay and eat
If you’re looking for a similarly moody, romantic Brontë-esque getaway (with a slight upgrade), check out Chateau Rhianfa. It’s also on the island and as of this writing, rooms start at $139. The French-style chateau is très Beauty and the Beast, and the setting just as picturesque, overlooking Snowdonia National Park.
The hotel’s restaurant straddles Welsh influences and French execution, featuring black pudding, baked beans and laverbread scones for breakfast. Black pudding, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, is a distinctively British, Irish and Scottish dish of pork blood, fat and oatmeal, all rolled into a natural casing. (Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.) Later on in the day, skew towards French flavors with duck confit and braised lentils, or a rib-sticking cassoulet with lamb merguez: perfect to shoo away that maritime chill.