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Our little black book of enchanting places

The coolest new country hotel?

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

A Christmas story needs a moral and a happy ending. Fortunately, the story of Beaverbrook, which opened in Surrey this autumn, has both – plus, if not quite a handsome prince, then a British prime minister, a newspaper magnate and any number of celebrities.Beaverbrook, above, is the former home of politician and owner of Express Newspapers Lord Beaverbrook, who lived here for more than 50 years. Winston Churchill was a regular weekend guest; Jean Cocteau, Ian Fleming, Joe and Rose Kennedy, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maughan and HG Wells were just a few of the great and the good who also visited. In 2010 the house and 400-acre estate was bought with the intention of turning it into a luxury hotel, but its Cinderella-like transformation was not immediate. First the new owners had to fight off a great deal of opposition, including objections from environmentalists, local residents and the National Trust. But persistence prevailed (the moral of the story) and in August the main house finally opened to guests, to be hailed as the coolest new country hotel in the UK (the happy ending). Designed by Susie Atkinson (Soho House, Babingdon House), the feel is very much that of a comfortable private country home, filled with art and antiques and swathed in rich textiles. Each of the bedrooms is individually decorated, including the very one in which Churchill slept. It has all been so sympathically done, you can almost imagine the Great Statesman out on the terrace with his easel.At present, Beaverbrook offers two restaurants – one featuring a locally inspired Japanese menu – and a bar with a sophisticated tropical theme. This isn’t quite where the story ends though: a luxury spa, deli and tennis courts, as well as a number of cottages, are all planned for 2018. Beaverbrook, Reigate Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 8QX; +44 (0)1372 571300. Doubles from £195 per night. 

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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