From Bridgerton to Profumo, this country house hotel is steeped in British history

Follow in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, Gandhi, Charlie Chaplin and Meghan Markle by visiting Cliveden House in Berkshire, England

Cliveden House: the historic property in Berkshire, England is now a luxury hotel

The venue

Describing Cliveden as historic feels like the understatement of the year. Since it was built by the second Duke of Buckingham as a gift for his mistress in 1666, the estate has been famous - and infamous - for the role it has played in British royalty, politics and scandal.

If you’ve watched Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story on Netlix, you’ll already be familiar with one of its historical inhabitants. Michelle Fairley’s character Princess Augusta lived at Cliveden with her husband Frederick, Prince of Wales, before his death in 1751 at the age of 44.

The outdoor pool at Cliveden is where John Profumo first set eyes on Christine Keeler, triggering a huge political scandal in 1960s Britain

Nancy Astor, who would become the first woman to take her seat in the British House of Commons in 1919, and her husband Waldorf were gifted Cliveden by Waldorf’s father on their marriage in 1879. It was Nancy who had warned her son Bill not to build an outdoor pool at Cliveden. “I don’t trust people in pools,” she told him.

Had he listened to her, a teenage Christine Keeler would not have been swimming in that pool in July 1961, and would not have been spotted as she emerged from it, naked, by John Profumo, the British war minister.

The ensuing scandal, which would alter the British political landscape forever, features heavily in episode ten of the second series of The Crown. The sketches of Keeler, her friend Mandy Rice Davis and Prince Philip by Stephen Ward, the society osteopath who introduced Keeler to Profumo, are now on display at Cliveden, which has been a luxury hotel since 1985.

Its more recent guests have included Meghan Markle, who spent the night before her wedding at nearby Windsor Castle here.

A suite at Cliveden: modern touches accentuate the experience, but don’t take anything away from the historic atmosphere

The room

Our spacious suite has wonderful views over the parterre gardens, which are open to the public via the National Trust, and run all the way down to the Thames.

A supremely comfortable bed, inviting sofa and deep bath will almost have you wishing for the rain so you don’t have to leave. Treat yourself to breakfast in bed - the eggs Florentine is particularly good - and channel your inner duchess.

The Cliveden Dining Room is the estate’s fine dining restaurant

The food

Dinner is served in the Cliveden Dining Room, the property’s original drawing room, which is as gorgeous as you’d expect, with its period plasterwork, fireplaces and chandeliers. We ate from chef Christopher Hannon’s a la carte menu, the highlights of which were a delicious lamb dish served with razor clams - the chef’s take on surf’n’turf - and a light as air strawberry souffle.

Cliveden’s casual dining option is the Astor Grill, which is located in the estate’s old stables, and offers an all-day menu that will please everyone. Try the Astor burger with Monterey Jack and maple-cured bacon (£28), and the tuna tataki with Asian slaw (£20).

Top marks to Hannon and his team for their attention to their vegan and vegetarian guests - there are excellent varied options on offer across both restaurants.

What else?

Natalie Livingstone, a British journalist whose husband is one of the current owners of Cliveden, has written a book called The Mistresses of Cliveden which tells the story of the estate through the lives of the women who lived there.

Brilliantly written and full of rich detail, it can be bought in the hotel as well as online and in bookshops, and is practically begging for a TV adaption. Over to you, Peter Morgan.

The location

Heathrow is the handiest airport for Cliveden - hop into a taxi and you’ll be there in half an hour or so, traffic permitting. Legoland’s Windsor resort is ten miles away, while there’s easy access to central London via the Elizabeth Line, which you can pick up at nearby Taplow station.

The bottom line

Cliveden offers a mix of rooms and suites, starting at entry-level club rooms from £445 per night and running up to £1,565 a night for the Lady Astor suite. Spring Cottage, which was built as a summerhouse and tea room in 1813, is also in the mix, and offers accommodation for up to six people from £2,250 per night.

A range of packages are also on offer, ranging from dining breaks to spa-focused stays. For more, see

Gillian Nelis was a guest of Cliveden House