My wife and I just missed celebrating our wedding anniversary in England on our recent trip to Blighty - her homeland and the place we were married. Still, the slight cooling of the weather brought back memories of our early-autumn wedding. - and the swell country manor-turned-hotel where the ceremony took place.
That would be Pennyhill Park (www.pennyhillpark.co.uk), still a favorite of couples about to tie the knot and couples returning to remember when they did so. The place is merely wonderful, and historic. The oldest part of the hotel dates back to 1851; a state of the art spa was added in 2004. The outside of the main house was covered with scarlet-colored ivy - Virginia creeper, to be exact - the day we were married. The light rain that fell in the morning cleared up on cue, creating magnificent skies and all-around fine weather - perfect for drinks on the terrace following a simple, beautiful civil ceremony in the hotel's library. The string trio we hired played beautifully while we and our guests from the U.K. and the U.S. sipped Champagne. It couldn't have been better.
Pennyhill Park, located on an old coaching road in Bagshot, Surrey (still quaintly known locally as London Road), is close enough to London Heathrow International Airport to be convenient for international travelers and far enough away to avoid noisy overflights. The hotel has a posh bar known as the Ascot Bar, and a Michelin-starred, fine-dining restaurant called Latymer. Oh, and there's a 9-hole golf course on the property. Home in season to the English national rugby team, the hotel boasts a rugby pitch on the drive from the main road. All told, the property consists of 123 lushly landscaped acres. A private home for most of its existence, Pennyhill Park has been operated as a hotel since 1972.
Consider this an all-in plug for Pennyhill Park. We had a lovely experience there - indeed, anyone can have a good time at this polished 5-star retreat, provided your purse is able to handle it. For our special time, we made it work, and our recent trip to Blighty raised echoes of wedding bells.