There's a magic in the air when Christmas is here - and Chicheley Hall has made me feel even more festive and magical.
A Christmas getaway was well and truly deserved and needed, as on the morning we stayed, I was running around like a headless chicken organising the Northamptonshire Bloggers Christmas event - so a chance to relax and recuperate came just in time.
Chicheley Hall invited Josh and I to stay for a complimentary dinner, bed and breakfast getaway in their absolutely stunning Grade 1 listed mansion, which is tucked away in Newport Pagnell near Milton Keynes in 80 acres of picturesque grounds.
Newport Pagnell is known as a pretty lively and quaint town, but as you head off the country road and turn into Chicheley Hall, you feel like you're driving towards a scene in Downtown Abbey, with the scenic and picturesque view of the country house that is Chicheley Hall.
You won't have to worry about car parking, as when you drive in, you will find an overflow car park on the left-hand side near the reception. You might even spot a peacock or two!
With the darker night drawing in, there was something quite gothic, yet beautiful about the country house appearance in
Chicheley Hall boasts it's Victorian, 18th-century architecture and beautifully kept mansion grounds. I read Amanda Alston's review when she visited in the summer and I thought it looked stunning in the sunshine, but there was something about visiting when the weather was colder and the skies were darker at the beginning of Christmas that made this visit a little bit more mysterious and magical.
It plays host to many events, corporate meetings and the most gorgeous weddings (which I had a sneak peek at the books) and I am pretty sure Chicheley Hall is my dream wedding venue for Christmas because the weddings in the books looked wonderful.
As we ventured inside the building, we would be greeted by the most festive of surprises...
We both arrived in separate cars at around 3pm and entered the building to find the reception. Already, I was in my element as Chicheley Hall were well and truly ready for Christmas, as there were Christmas decorations everywhere you looked.
Think Little Women, with a Disney Christmas vibe - I felt like I was Belle in Beauty and the Beast the Enchanted Christmas walking around the building, up and down the grand staircases, through the grand hallways and taking in all the magnificent Christmas tree's displayed around the house. I especially loved the HUGE one right on the corner of the main staircase which also had a magnificent chandelier hanging down opposite it.
We were staying in the Cartwright room, which was situated on the 2nd floor and is one of their most superior suites in the building. We opened the door and the first thing we noticed was the BIG bed right opposite.
The bedroom was really old fashioned but intimate, cosy but full of character. All the walls around the bedroom were made of beautiful extensive oak panelling, which all created an illusion that you could walk through any door and discover Narnia on the other side.
It was rather fun to see which doors opened and which ones didn't, including the bathroom which in itself was hidden away in the corner and could be hard to miss!
Some of the secret doors revealed shelves, extra cupboard space and more - even though we were only staying for one night, you have so much room to play with in terms of cupboard space if you need to hang lots of stuff.
There was a big, cosy chair in the corner, which Josh and I said we wanted one just like it for our place. The bathroom was well lit and had a powerful shower that was spacious, considering the bathroom itself was quite small and the bedroom had all the essentials we needed for one night away.
But let's talk about the bed... oh my gosh! I mentioned it was a big bed, but it was a ridiculously plump, soft and Josh and I felt like we both melting into the bed as we went to sleep.
We also had a big TV in the corner, which we made full use of watching 'Dinner Date' as we relaxed before going downstairs for dinner.
It was also interesting to see that our bedroom featured a photo of the woman behind the name of the suite we were staying in, with some brief writing on the history of her and her involvement with Chicheley Hall.
As we arrived early, we were able to have a stroll around the house and on the country grounds, which quite frankly, were magnificent, especially during a cold December night. The grounds featured a stunning church, acres of fields, some friendly sheep and everywhere we walked, each angle of the building never failed to take our breath away.
We had plenty of time to relax in our bedroom whilst we waited to go downstairs for dinner reservations, so we got to chill on our big bed, watched TV and finally got ourselves up and dressed in our best attire for a pre-dinner drink.
We ventured downstairs to the bar area, which was empty apart from the bartender behind the bar. My eyes instantly went for the many bottles of gin that were attractively displayed for our picking.
As much as I'm a gin lover, I'm also a huge wine lover too - so I thought seeing as we were most likely to order a bottle of wine at dinner, I thought I would stick to wine (gin and wine DO NOT mix well together!)
But the bar area was fairly relaxed with just the two of us and it was a nice start to what was going to be a lovely, festive and romantic evening together amongst dinner.
Once again, we couldn't help but admire how decorative everywhere was looking with all the Christmas decorations and another stunning red and silver Christmas tree.
Once we had finished our drinks, we headed down the hallway, passed the huge staircase and made our way to the dining hall for dinner where we were seated in a cosy corner by the window.
As far as we were aware, when searching on the Chicheley Hall website, we couldn't find the food & drink menu - so we had absolutely no idea what was in store and what was available.
So when we got given the menu's, we were keen to see what their Winter menu consisted of.
Upon first impressions, there was a mixture of everything from British classics, to Mediterranean dishes. Some of what was on the menu screamed winter food to me, whilst other things didn't so much - but in a way, I think it's great that they offered so much variety for different people's tastes.
For our starters, I went for a delightful looking Brie and caramelised onion tart with rocket salad and herb dressing, whilst Josh went for a simple, but flavoursome Salt and Pepper Squid with chilli mayonnaise.
My Brie and caramelised onion tart itself was soft and fluffy on the inside with crumbly pastry that fell apart with every bite. The brie was not too overpowering, but it still gave an essence of cheesy goodness. I would of liked a *little* less rocket, as I felt the plate was covered in too much rocket for my liking, but the flavour of the herb dressing mixed with the rocket and tart came together very nicely.
Josh's Salt and Pepper Squid was probably the best squid I have ever tasted - it had a great crunchy texture and the salt and pepper batter wrapped the squid in nice and tight and the salt and pepper flavour was made even better with the sweet and tangy chilli mayonnaise.
A great start to the dinner!
For my main, as soon as I saw that they had Spinach and ricotta tortellini in a mushroom and stilton cream sauce, I was SOLD. Anything that involved mushroom, cheesy sauces and carbs is a winner with me.
And it really didn't disappoint! The tortellini was cooked Al Dente, which is the way I like it as it's not too sloppy. The mushrooms were plentiful and the sauce was too good to be true - a truly 'mmmm' moment every time the sauce touched my tongue, as I had to resist licking my plate up!
Josh went for a British classic; Garlic and Thyme Chicken Supreme served with gratin potato, seasonal vegetables and red wine jus.
Upon appearence, we couldn't see the potatoes, which Josh did comment saying he wished he had more than just two small potatoes on his plate. However, both him and I couldn't deny and fault the garlic and thyme flavours lifting from the chicken, which was cooked just right as it was tender with every bite.
The seasonal vegetables were a nice touch to this classic British dish and Josh commented he would have it again, but with more potatoes to fill the plate.
We paired our dinner with a bottle of the house white wine, which managed to last us throughout the meal.
Overall, our mains were easily the highlight dish of the evening for us - I am still dreaming of my main.
Josh and I can never say no to a dessert menu (literally, we have no will power!)
The dessert menu for me screamed more summer menu than winter menu, however, there were lots of my favourites featured which made it hard to pin down what I wanted.
Eventually, I went for a cheese board, which is a classic Christmas delicacy to have and seemed acceptable since it was the 1st of December.
The cheeseboard was just as it was written on the menu: three types of cheeses which consisted of Mature Cheddar, Brie and Blue Cheese, with green grapes, onion chutney and crackers. You really can't go wrong with a cheeseboard and it fulfilled my taste buds.
Josh has got a huge sweet tooth, so it was obvious he would go for the Sticky Toffee Pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream. Again, you can't go wrong with a classic! It was fluffy and light, without being too heavy on the stomach and the toffee sauce really hit the spot along with the creaminess of the ice cream.
Our waiter was a young boy who seemed inexperienced, but nonetheless, he was attentive and friendly enough all throughout the night and made us laugh with some of his banter.
We went away from the restaurant area feeling full and satisfied from the food, serene and relaxed from enjoying each others company in relaxing surroundings and a little bit tipsy from the wine - a perfect end to the evening and we couldn't wait to jump into bed for a well-awaited sleep.
The next day, it was an early start for us (thanks Josh, for waking me up early!) but regardless of my boyfriend's inability to have a lie in, I woke up feeling refreshed and wanting to stay in our bed all day. We had no trouble at all getting to sleep due to how cosy the bed is and despite Chicheley Hall having plenty of visitors, you really don't hear a sound from outside at all - which is perfect if you're looking for a quiet weekend away.
So now we were up, we decided to get dressed and head downstairs to see what breakfast was like.
We found ourselves in the same restaurant area we were in the night before, only this time, it was bright and airy with the morning winter sun beaming inside. I loved actually seeing all the pine tables and chairs in their full light along with the surrounding decor. It was such a pleasant area to dine in.
We ventured into another room to find the breakfast buffet displayed for us to get stuck into! Chicheley Hall provided a good selection of everything you could want for breakfast, from fruit and cereal to continental slices of bread and pastries and of course, the English Breakfast buffet.
As usual, my eyes are always bigger than my belly and instead of opting for something small like some fruit, yoghurt and a pastry, I went straight in for the full English breakfast - surprisingly after last night's dinner, I was hungry.
I liked how everything was labelled and everything was pretty straightforward. They also had jugs of orange, apple and cranberry juice for you to help yourselves to as well.
Usually, I find English Breakfast buffets to taste like they've been pre-heated or microwaved, but no, everything I ate on my plate tasted freshly prepared and tasted AMAZING.
Washed down with some freshly brewed coffee that came in a cute teapot, I couldn't resist having more than one cup.
We managed to eat fairly quickly before we headed back upstairs to chill for a few hours before deciding to check out - obviously, we made every minute count until we had to check out at 11am.
We had a final walk around the grounds, which we couldn't get enough of before we drove back to Josh's (literally 5 minutes down the road, ha!)
Overall, anyone who is heading to Buckingham for the weekend, or is potentially looking for a future wedding venue, I would highly suggest you consider Chicheley Hall for your next stay or event.
It's different from your everyday modernised hotel, with everything pretty much still intact and in its original form from the 18th century, Chicheley Hall is a true delight and gem nestled in the countryside of Newport Pagnell that is relaxing, calm and you can really get away from everyday life here and pretend you're King and Queen of the castle!
You can find Chicheley Hall on Chicheley Road, Newport Pagnell, MK16 9JJ.
*I was given a complimentary stay in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and photos are my own*