Stepping out the car at the end of Luton Hoo’s sweeping drive, we’re met by a sight straight from the pages of a Jane Austen novel. A huge columned entrance guides you into the magnificent Mansion House, where sumptuous interiors, precious antiques and welcoming staff greet you at every turn.
All images: Petra Clayton/Whittlebury Custard
Forget Elizabeth and Mr Darcy - Luton Hoo is the favouite romantic hideaway of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. They frequently chose the hotel to celebrate their anniversary during the first years of their marriage and it’s easy to see why they gave it the royal seal of approval.
From the curving marble staircase (the most Instagrammable bridal entrance spot we’ve ever seen) to the marble-clad converted Russian Orthodox chapel, any bride would feel like a princess saying ‘I do’ here.
Right next door to the Queen Elizabeth room where the Royals used to stay is the Lady Butter room - equally famous in its own right. You might recognise it from the scene where Hugh Grant is trapped in a cupboard in Four Wedding and a Funeral while the happy couple consummate their nuptials next door?
Set in rolling grounds within easy reach of Luton airport, it’s perfectly located for couples heading off on their honeymoon after the wedding. But you could also treat yourself to a wonderful minimoon here or even enjoy a classy champagne afternoon tea as part of your hen party in their drawing room.
The grounds are chockfull of things to keep you entertained on a minimoon or for guests to enjoy after a wedding: a championship 18-hole golf course, over 1,000 acres of Capability Brown-designed grounds to explore, archery, a clay pigeon shooting school, and a luxury spa with indoor infinity pool and ESPA treatments.
There’s even a croquet lawn in the summer, ideal for a quick game during your drinks reception.
We begin with a tour of their wedding facilities with Janet, Luton Hoo’s wedding co-ordinator. Her dedication and passion for her job has given her an impressive memory: a fellow guest mentioned she had been at a wedding there four years earlier, and Janet was able to remember the exact couple and their wedding day. Now that’s someone you’d definitely trust with one of the most important days of your life!
Inside the hotel, you’re spoilt for choice for options to host your big day. From the ornate Romanov Suite that still sings of its former life as a grand chapel and the Faberge suite (you can probably guess what collection it used to house) to more intimate rooms, there’s something for every couple.
Stunning backdrops to take your wedding photos are endless too: the marble staircase, formal gardens, rock garden, and lake.
Aside from the main house, you can also marry in Warren Weir, an exclusive-use hideaway nestled on the banks of the River Lea and able to accommodate up to 290 guests. You needn’t worry about it being set apart from the main house - the hotel has their own fleet of London black cabs to ferry guests around, free of charge.
There’s a total of 228 bedrooms and suites across the estate, and our room was beautifully finished and overlooked the Formal Gardens. The hotel prides itself on attention to detail and a bowl of fresh fruit, box of fudge and a handwritten welcome card were waiting to greet us, while Molton Brown goodies stocked the bathroom.
After a relaxing visit to the spa, we decided to investigate the cocktail menu in the lounge bar before stepping into the grand and elegant Wernher Restaurant for dinner. Named after former owner and diamond magnate Sir Julius Wernher, this is the sort of place where gents are required to wear jacket and tie.
The marble-panelled walls are decked in tapestries, the ceiling with ornate chandeliers, and tables romantic with candles, but the food is sharp and modern, and wine list carefully chosen. A special shout-out goes to their delicious marmite butter.
It is amazing how somewhere so magnificent can make you feel so at home, mainly due to their friendly and attentive staff. If you’re after a grand country estate for your wedding or minimoon that will make you feel like a princess, Luton Hoo should be top of your list.
To find out more about weddings at Luton Hoo, visit their Hitched listing, or click here to book a room.