luxe - The Crazy Bear, England
Written by Oryx
It took a great deal to restore the oldest documented building in Beaconsfield, England – which itself dates from the late 12th century – but in the end, that old building in this old town became a tribute to flamboyance and extravagance; a boutique hotel known as The Crazy Bear.
There are no exterior signs to greet you, and the windows are blacked out, a beast retracting its claws, as it were, so as not to overrun this small, proper market town. But the animal awakens with a visit to the rollicking rock ’n’ roll bar set amid dark mirrors, fine Italian marble, dazzling 1930s crystal chandeliers, and a fabulous 17m Swarovski-studded black-leather chesterfield. Teddy comfort blends with grizzly stylistic aggressiveness in this 10-room masterpiece. Room No. 10 is the most talked about and hardest to book, with its night-black faux crocodile skin walls, and black leather floor lit by gilded Moroccan lanterns rendering it unique. All rooms (except 9) are lusciously dark from floor to ceiling, while all (save 4) have a free-standing brass bathtub.
Two restaurants – one offering modern-British brilliance, the other Thai specialties – promise sumptuous culinary delights that may be followed by a retreat to sensuous rooms adorned in textured leather, hand-carved wood, and gold leaf or a dip – in either the infinity pool or jacuzzi – to cap off the evening.
Stowe School and Gardens is base of one of the country’s largest houses, extended in the early 18th century by Lord Cobham with the famed Elysian Fields, while landscape gardens continue to surround the property.
The tenet ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ applies to Claydon House, where one block remains of the original structure, built in 1768, and the worn exterior offers no hint of the beauty that prevails inside.
The town of Beaconsfield is derived from ‘clearing in the beeches’, and the splendid trees are abundant in Buckinghamshire.
Once upon a time, they covered almost the entire county; now the remnants of that great forest, Burnham Beeches – still vast at 540 acres – represent an enticing walk through one of Britain’s finest woodlands.
The forest was purchased in 1880 by the Corporation of London to save it from development. The overwhelming majority of the trees date more than 400 years, including the oldest – the must-see Druid’s Oak – which took root sometime in the 12th century. A popular location site for making movies, the Beeches also include a hill fort known as Seven Ways Plain that dates as far as the late Bronze Age.