Kites patrol the skies, deer roam the woods, the air is alive with the sound of woodland songbirds. Chalk Hill House comes embedded in a forest, with nature doing its stuff at every turn. Deep within Oxfordshire’s Harpsden Valley, the occasional distant swish and cuss from Henley-on-Thames Golf Club next door are all that pierces the silence.
Sleeping 20 in eight bedrooms across a main house, an annex and a studio, Chalk Hill House is an Edwardian beauty. The wildlife might be teeming outside, but you’ve all the creature comforts you need on the inside. It comes beautifully refurbished with pristine white walls, rugs, woodburners and a magnificent orangery.
Spend your evenings claiming bragging rights over table football in the games room. Escape to the snug with a book. Get together for movie nights in the living room – throw a log on the fire and dig out your passwords for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video streamed over the BT Wi-Fi. Top your glass up. Find another log.
The garden here’s made for games, or just hanging out on the terrace admiring the trees and shrubs and keeping an eye out for deer in the forest and kite in the skies. Eat out in summer around the 12-seat table with smoke from the coal barbecue scenting the air. Get your meat from Gabriel Machin’s in Henley and wine from Majestic.
Plenty of room for everyone here. Out of the lobby and through the hallway, you’ll enter the family room. It’s open to the kitchen yet there’s a homely warmth here with the wooden floor, rugs and logs that glow in the fireplace. Get together here for music or a Netflix or Amazon movie on the smart TV. Don’t forget your passwords.
Escape artists will love the snug on the other side of the house. Snuggle up on the corner sofa, feed the fire with wood and stream TV over the BT Wi-Fi. Catch up on your email in the separate study with ample desk space. The annex and studio come with their own luxurious open-plan living spaces with smart TVs.
Budding Gordon Ramsays will swear by the luxury kitchen at Chalk Hill House. Cook on the Rangemaster with its two ovens and five-ring induction hob, load up the American-style fridge/freezer with goodies from Gabriel Machin’s butcher’s and wine from Majestic. Or hang it all and book in your own chef for a one-off or a fully catered break.
Dining here comes with its own theatrical setting in the spectacular vaulted orangery with its front-row seat out onto Harpsden Woods beyond. Invite them in by opening up the double doors. Seat up to a dozen on the three-and-a-half-metre dining table or eat out on the terrace with meat from the coal barbecue and one eye out for passing deer.
Pub it in style at The Bottle and Glass in Binfield Heath, a cosy thatched tavern where you eat in the Burger Barn with your dog at your feet and the firepit keeping you warm. Head to The Bull in Henley for marinated chicken and chorizo burger or pork belly. Or order up takeaways from Giggling Squid (Thai), Zizzi or Pizza Express (Italian).
Go for posher plates at Orwell’s, a fine-dining restaurant run by Michelin-starred chefs. Four AA Rosettes gets you a seven-course tasting menu that includes Isle of Skye lobster and NYC crumpet. Or enjoy family-friendly Italian at Villa Marina or sea bream baked in garlic butter at The Bistro at The Boathouse.
Cloaked in the woodland that clings to the Harpsden Valley and soaked in the silence that hangs over the Oxfordshire countryside, Chalk Hill House is the kind of place where you’ll remember what it’s like to sleep like a baby. And, berthing 20 across three properties, it gives you plenty room to flex your options.
In the main house, bedroom one and two are both kingsize en-suites, while bedroom three offers two single beds. Bedroom four is another kingsize, as is bedroom five, which adds an en-suite.
In the studio, bedroom six provides a kingsize on the ground floor, while bedroom seven on the first floor offers two singles suitable for children. Annex 2 sleeps two guests in a super king and each annex also comes with a sofa bed sleeping two more.
Taking over large country houses is a staple for hen and stag weekends and they don’t come much larger or rural than Chalk Hill House. With space for 20 across three buildings, the accommodation’s pretty flexible, too. Stay home and make merry over movies and table football or book an Uber for the lights of London. The choice is yours.
Pamper yourself with treatments at Kubu Spa, The Treatment Rooms or Peppermint Lime. Cycle the riverbank and woodlands with Henley Cycle Hire. Ride 80 acres of Chiltern woodland and parkland with Checkendon Equestrian. Or race your mates on four wheels with Karting Nation near Henley-on-Thames.
Head down to Humphreys of Henley to enjoy anything from falconry to duck-herding. Potter the town centre for antiques, handmade chocolates, beautiful boutiques, gifts, galleries and antiquarian books. Book a private tour and tasting at Fairmile Vineyard. Or come in July for five nights of music, comedy and culture at the Henley Festival.
Sip a cocktail or two at the Hotel du Vin. Take the Henley Ale Trail, taking in The Angel on the Bridge (the only riverside pub in town), The Bull and The Bell, and discover the town and the river at the same time. Or book an afternoon-tea cruise along The Thames with Hobbs of Henley. How jolly English.