As I walk up the stairs I feel myself lean to the left. I haven’t even had a glass of wine so I can’t blame my instability on intoxication quite yet.
The horizontally challenged treads mark the passing of time; the three hundred years that have passed since this house was built.
Hope House, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, UK, is dripping with history. It’s a time machine that transports you back through time. It’s not just the horsehair plaster and original paneling. It’s the stories and family legacy that accompany the bricks and mortar.
Paul Hageman owns and runs the historic house, as ten generations have done before him. And it’s a family full of colourful and interesting characters including glove makers that received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria; a captain of a merchant ship that sailed the seas to trade with far-flung nations; a high ranking naval officer who fought during the First and Second World Wars; and marital connections to the artistic Dyce family.
After three years overseeing the entire restoration and refurbishment of this Vanbrughian style Grade II* listed property, Paul opened Hope House in 2009 as beautiful boutique accommodation with three individually designed and spacious suites.
Blenheim Palace, the home of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, was built around the same time. The families, however, were not always easy neighbours with the 6th Duke of Marlborough refusing the pay for his father’s coffin in 1841, leaving the owners of Hope House to raise money in the town.
Along with its illustrious history, Hope House has provided a roof over the head of many famous people including Russell Crowe, Diana Ross and Cate Blanchett. We stayed in the same suite as the Sheriff of Nottingham (or Matthew Macfadyen as he is better known).
It’s difficult to see what else you might want from a place to stay. It unique – it’s not a bed or breakfast or a hotel. It’s an historic home. There is a reason why Trip Advisor ranked Hope House the 10th best luxury hotel in the UK in 2013 Travellers’ Choice awards.
The practical bit:
Accommodation: Hope House offers five star accommodation. The suites are spacious with a lounge complete with state-of-the-art entertainment: (LCD TV, surround system, Blu-ray player, wall-mounted iPod docks, high speed wireless internet access). There is a fully-stocked mini bar and personal touches such as flowers, home-made produce and service at the touch of a button. The Hope House breakfast is beautifully prepared and presented with local-resourced ingredients. There isn’t a restaurant but Woodstock is a compact town with plenty of dining options from pubs to upmarket restaurants.
Location: The ancient market town of Woodstock is situated on the edge of the Cotswolds, near Oxford, an hour’s drive from London.
For more information: www.hopehousewoodstock.co.uk
A bit of trivia: Some of the windows at Hope House include etchings marking family weddings through the centuries.
If you're looking for the bright lights of the city you might prefer a boutique London hotel.