3 of a kind
Hotels with grand gardens
HOTEL SCHLOSS WILHELMINEBERG, VIENNA
Savoyenstrasse 2, Vienna, tel: 0043-14 858 503, austria-trend.at
When the Duke of Gallitzin bought this estate from his friend Franz Moritz, Count of Lascy, in 1784, he added on some surrounding forest and created a parkland complete with ponds, a church, hunting lodge and “Roman ruin”. The current hotel, in the northwest suburb of Vienna, now sits in nearly 30 acres of parkland with surrounding hills, vineyards, fields and forests as a backdrop. The grounds, complete with winter garden, often host up to 2,000 people for film premieres and fashion shows.
Guests are encouraged to stretch out on the lawns and there are jogging paths through the woods should you wish to re-contract your muscles.
The estate has been through many members of the gentry in its life, including, in 1824, Julius, Duke of Montleart and his wife Maria Christine, who added two wings, and a later owner gave it to his wife Wilhelmine, hence the hotel’s name. In 1903 the building was demolished and replaced, as a fitting home for dukes, but then ended up as a hospital in the first World War and a children’s home from 1927 until 1934. It was later home to the Vienna Boy’s Choir and then, in the second World War, was a refuge for concentration camp victims, and subsequently a place for children with special needs. The local mayor announced it was going to be refurbished as a guesthouse in 1986 and the Austria Trend Group took it on in 2000 and upgraded it to a four-star.
Rooms: there are 50 two-storey rooms, 33 standard rooms and four junior suites decorated in a functional, comfortable Austrian style. Ask for one with a good view: of the garden, Vienna or the countryside. Doubles from €78.
CHÂTEAU ST GERLACH, THE NETHERLANDS
Joseph Corneli Allée 1, Valkenburg aan de Geul Netherlands, tel: 00314-360 8888, chateauhotels.nl
This country estate in the Geul valley, just outside Maastricht, sits in its own grand parkland, but it is also surrounded by a wildlife reserve where small, semi-wild Konik horses and fluffy, beefy Galloway cattle graze happily. The 13th-century estate, which was rescued by hotelier Camille Oostwegel, has baroque gardens, a herb garden, orchard and rose garden.
The grounds also contain a church adorned with frescoes, a convent, farmhouse and granary. The hotel has bikes for rent, complete with picnic baskets, so you can explore the surrounding area of rolling countryside dotted with woods, half- timbered houses, water mills and caves.
The hotel is decorated in a grand, romantic style and drips with chandeliers, frescoes and oil paintings. It is near the border between Belgium and Germany (Cologne and Dusseldorf are an hour’s drive away). The hotel’s spa, with its Roman-style swimming pool, won the Netherlands’ Leading Spa Resort award a few years ago.
Rooms:there are 112 rooms, including 58 in the old farmhouse, 13 apartment suites in the convent and 26 apartment suites in the granary. Dining is done in the castle: in two restaurants. Doubles from €220.
CLIVEDEN HOUSE AND PAVILION SPA, BERKSHIRE
Taplow, Berkshire, England, tel: 0044-1628 668 561, clivedenhouse.co.uk
The Duke of Buckingham built Cliveden in 1666 for his mistress, and fatally wounded her husband in a duel, and 300 years later another affair that began at the estate brought down the UK government: Christine Keeler met secretary of state for war John Profumo here in 1961 and they had an affair. He was forced to resign when it was discovered she had also had liaisons with a Soviet naval attaché, and was considered a security risk. That was when the Astors owned the house, which has been visited by many royals over the centuries, including Queen Victoria.
The house’s 375 acres include gardens, woodland and paddocks. The parterre in front is laid out over four acres and has yew pyramids, 16 wedge-shaped beds edged with box hedging and filled with flowers. There is also a Long Garden with topiary, designed by Norah Lindsay in 1900. There is a Water Garden, laid out by the first Lord Astor in 1900 with an oriental feel, including wisteria, cherry trees and a pagoda. The Rose Garden, designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe for the Astor family in the early 1960s, suffered from a disease and was replanted, and a herbaceous border in the forecourt was designed by horticulturalist Graham Stuart Thomas. The woods include giant redwoods imported by the first Lord Astor, who also commissioned the maze, in 1894.
Rooms:there are 38 bedrooms and suites, each named after a prominent guest or figure from Cliveden’s past. The decor is in a fresh, grand country style. Doubles from about €260.