When I go to a hotel, I want to escape the humdrum of domesticity and enter a world where the sheets are thick and folded down for me, where the furnishings are cosy yet different to my own home and where I can soak in a tub full of bubbles with a glass of wine, safe in the knowledge no one will interrupt me. I suspect I’m not the only one with a list like the above, which is why when I visited the new accommodation recently unveiled on the premises of Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, I quickly fell in love with, well, all of it.
10 unique and sumptuous rooms
Each of the ten bedrooms has been individually furnished by Fiona from Johnston Parke Interiors Studio, using some of the biggest and best names in the British interiors business – as well as some not so well known brands which hold their own amongst the big boys. This elegant touch of individualism for each room means every space is unique – you could visit ten times and have a different experience with each one, if you so wished.
From sumptuous jewellery box emeralds, to pretty as anything pinks, strong navy and intricate, yet unfussy florals, each room is a beauty. And then there’s the bathrooms. Honestly, I barely took any notice of one particular (highly decorated, utterly sublime, enormous) bedroom when I spotted the copper bath which has unspoilt views across the Leonardslee estate, and wondered what the protocol was on shedding my clothes and jumping in.
So accomplished is the finish in these rooms you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a renovation job, where once there used to be a hotel and now it’s been updated. But, Leonardslee House, much like the rest of the estate, had been allowed to remain dormant for some seven years before the Streeter family purchased it all and began the arduous task of rescuing the place.
Realisation of an ambitious vision
I had the honour of looking around the estate not long after Penny Streeter had bought Leonardslee and remember walking around the house with Adam Streeter, the manager of the estate. We walked from room to room whilst he talked me through the various treasures they’d discovered, as well as the archaic wiring.
He spoke of their plans for a stunning restaurant looking over a vineyard, of one day turning the upstairs rooms which had in their latest incarnation been offices, into bedrooms as part of a small but perfectly formed hotel. I, it must be admitted, smiled, nodded, gasped in the right places, but truth be told couldn’t see past the sheer volume of work which would need to take place for even a crumb of the Streeters’ plans to come to fruition.
It has, therefore, been a joy over the past few years to see the gardens lovingly landscaped, the wallabies looked after and the buildings come back to life, complete with café and outdoor events. It has been an even greater joy to see Leonardslee House become home to Restaurant Interlude and chef extraordinaire Jean Delport (who has recently secured his Michelin star for the second year in a row) and, on a fairly middling kind of a Monday, to see such a stunning transformation that has now taken place on the rooms too.
As with so much over the past 18 months, work didn’t go quite the way it would have done in “normal” times. Instead, Fiona Parke, the designer, and architects Gould Baxter, liaised with Penny over the phone who, in quite an extraordinary amount of belief, allowed the team to make all the interior decisions themselves.
“It was quite unusual,” explains Fiona, “I tend to work quite closely with a client but in this case Penny was in South Africa and couldn’t get over to the UK, so we were given a lot of free reign. I kept her updated on it all of course, but it definitely put the pressure on to make sure we really delivered the vision.”
She adds, “Fortunately though she was very happy with the outcome, and when she stayed the night to test run it she was really pleased with it all, which I was thrilled about. Especially as it was the first time we’d actually met.”
Owner Penny is pleased with the addition to the estate too, saying, “The new accommodation extends the range of visitors who can visit and now stay overnight, to enjoy the full Leonardslee experience – the beautiful gardens, classic afternoon tea, wine tastings and dinner at Michelin Star Restaurant Interlude. Perhaps too to take in a round of golf at our neighbouring property, Mannings Heath Golf and Wine Estate close by.”
Prices start at £350. For more information, or to book, visit www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk.
Contributed by Lisa Brace