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Luton Hoo to Stay

Champagne Taittinger at Luton Hoo

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Luton Hoo to Stay

Champagne Taittinger at Luton Hoo

Luton Hoo to Stay

Luton Hoo Luton Hoo is an English country house and estate with easy access to London. But what is a ‘hoo’? The unusual name "Hoo" is a Saxon word meaning the spur of a hill. Luton Hoo is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, but a family called de Hoo lived on the site for four hundred years, until the death of Lord Thomas Hoo in 1455. In 1762 the then owner, Francis Hearne, sold the estate to John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, who was a Scottish nobleman and little-known Prime Minister from 1762 to 1763.

The present house was built by the neoclassical architect Robert Adam. The original plan was never completed and much of the work was a remodelling of the older house. It was one of the largest houses for which Adam was wholly responsible. Celebrated landscape gardener Capability Brown redesigned the park. He dammed the River Lea to form two lakes.

Luton Hoo In 1903 the house was purchased by Sir Julius Wernher, who had made his fortune from South African diamonds. He had the interior remodelled by Charles Mewes, the architect of the Ritz Hotel in London. The striking marble-clad dining room was designed to display Beauvais tapestries. Even those unfortunates who can only stay at Luton Hoo for bed and breakfast can enjoy this sumptuous room, which is a noteworthy restaurant open from the first meal of the day until the last, and lunch in-between. It’s a dining room in which to linger. Watch pheasants on the frosty ground and enjoy just one more cup of coffee and bite of toast.

Wernher's son Harold Augustus married Anastasia de Torby, the daughter of a member of the former Russian Imperial family.  She brought with her works by the celebrated court jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé, who is remembered for his bejewelled Easter eggs. There is still a Russian Orthodox chapel in the house, with a marvellous painted ceiling. During the Second World War Luton Hoo was Headquarters Eastern Command and Luton Hoo's grounds were used as a tank testing facility for the Churchill tanks that were produced in the nearby Vauxhall motor factories.

Most people will have had at least a glimpse of Luton Hoo, even if they don’t know it. Its architecture is outstanding, reflecting the very best of this type of opulent home. It has appeared in many films including A Shot in the Dark, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Eyes Wide Shut, and The Secret Garden; more recently Burke and Hare and the BBC TV series of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit. In 2010, filming of War Horse took place at Luton Hoo.

Luton Hoo In 2007 part of the Luton Hoo Estate was converted into a luxury hotel called Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf, and Spa. I have stayed in many country house hotels and have enjoyed each of them, but perhaps Luton Hoo is the one which retains most of its original characteristics and ambiance. Expectations of quality are raised before one even reaches the house: a drive along the tree-lined approach is magical!

Restorations have been sympathetic, while technology has been seamlessly introduced into Luton Hoo. The owners, Elite Hotels, selected furnishings for both private and public spaces which are appropriate for such a grand house. In winter the ground floor has the aroma of roaring wood fires, and chandeliers twinkle. There are classic sofas and soft cushions into which one can snuggle with the latest lifestyle magazine or best-seller.

The hotel has 228 bedrooms and suites which sweep guests back to a gentler age of tasteful luxury and calm. Rooms are individually furnished and decorated to reflect their particular charm and aspect. Many bedrooms have views across the estate, the gardens or parkland. Bathrooms are well-appointed and wifi abounds. Staff are attentive and friendly and well-trained, and are a credit to a hotel which is comfortable rather than intimidating.

Luton Hoo represents my hotel of choice. It has polish, amenity and great beauty. It has evident history and pedigree, and that would be impossible to introduce into a new building. This isn’t a ‘themed’ Stately Home, it quite simply is the real thing but with modern conveniences. Luton Hoo should be on every well-tailored bucket list.
Luton Hoo

Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa
The Mansion House

Phone: +44 (0)1582 734437


Visit Luton Hoo here.

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Champagne Taittinger at Luton Hoo

Luton Hoo Champagne is the quintessential celebration drink. We enjoy it with friends and loved ones, accompanied by fine foods, perhaps in a drawing room with high ceilings, Grinling Gibbons wood carvings and sumptuous drapes. Well, OK, most of us can’t manage that stunning setting …but Luton Hoo can!

Luton Hoo is an English Country House Hotel with acres of grounds and piles of history. Yes, there are many country house hotels – the UK is blessed with these magnificent properties which are now enjoying a new life as classy accommodations for discerning guests. Luton Hoo is arguably one of the finest examples of its genre.

A stay laced with dinner and champagne was likely to be memorable, and indeed it was. Luton Hoo offers several wine dinners every year and they are understandably popular with regular visitors, those who are celebrating, and others who are interested in learning more about the best of wines.

Luton HooTaittinger is a French wine company which is still family-owned and run. They are recognised as producers of outstanding Champagnes. The company is led by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger. The estate was founded in 1734 by Jacques Fourneaux. The Taittingers were a family of wine merchants who, in 1870, moved to the Paris region from the Lorraine in order to retain their French citizenship after the Franco-Prussian War and the Treaty of Frankfurt. In 1932 Pierre Taittinger bought the Château de la Marquetterie from the wine house of Forest-Fourneaux.

From 1945 to 1960 the business was run by Pierre's third son François. Under his direction the Taittinger cellars were established in the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise, built in the thirteenth century. After François' death his brother Claude took over and directed the business from 1960 to 2005. It was during this time that Taittinger became known around the world.

The vineyards of the château had been planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir since the 18th Century. They are the grapes which are most commonly used in Champagne production. To be called Champagne a wine must be made from grapes grown in that region and must be made using the classic Champagne method. Wines made with this method but from grapes grown elsewhere are just sparkling wines.

Luton Hoo Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne Non-Vintage was served with our pre-dinner canapes. This was poured from Magnum bottles, offering a subtly different experience from that to be had from the same wine from a regular bottle. This was a light Champagne, pale in colour with fine bubbles and made with both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Plenty of green apples on the nose, fruit and honey on the palate and a well-chosen pairing with the oyster and sweet potato nibbles. A Champagne to drink with delicately flavoured food.

Taittinger Prelude, a non-vintage blend of grapes from Grand Cru sites, is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and accompanied our starter of pan-fried scallops with a garnish of hazelnuts, clementine gel and orange crisp. The Champagne presented full aromatics with fresh citrus notes mirroring the dish, and had a pleasantly long finish.

Luton Hoo Our main course of Guinea fowl boudin with chestnut and date stuffing, cèpe cream and winter truffles was paired with both Taittinger Vintage 2008 and the 2003. It was a rare opportunity to taste and compare two vintage Champagnes. Most Champagnes are not vintage, allowing the producers to present consistent quality in their styles of wine. When a year is particularly good a vineyard may elect to make a special vintage Champagne. Both wines were distinctive but the majority of the table agreed that the 2003 had a more robust persona and was the best balance for the meat. I would suggest that perhaps the 2008 would have been the more popular had the sauce not contained truffle, which was a dominant flavour.

Taittinger Nocturne Sec Non-Vintage paired very well with our dessert of striking autumn berry pudding with buttermilk foam and brioche crisp. This wine is made with a higher 'dosage' (added sugar), making it noticeably sweeter. It has a pale yellow colour and delicate bubbles. It’s soft and fresh and made a delicious pairing with the fruity dessert.

Luton Hoo The evening was not just a pairing dinner but something of a masterclass, with able and amusing Kevin McKee. He was ideally placed to deliciously educate the guests, being Director of Taittinger Champagne UK.

But the food was never overshadowed by the expressive wines. Each dish was a triumph of taste and form. The Wernher Restaurant Sous Chef, Aimee Reddick, is definitely a chef in ascendance. Aimee first joined the team in October 2013 as a Junior Sous Chef and now has a more senior role, heading a team of five Junior Chefs. This was a fine-dining meal of both quality and innovation. I had not visited The Wernher, Luton Hoo’s main restaurant, but if this is an indication of the quality of food then it must surely be considered a destination restaurant with an outstanding chef. I look forward to tasting the regular restaurant menu in the future.

Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf and Spa
The Mansion House
Bedfordshire LU1 3TQ

Phone: +44 (0)1582 734437

Learn more about Luton Hoo events here
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