Lansdowne House

Lansdowne House is a stately home steeped in history. Images of summer afternoons and tea sipped from bone china cups are easily evoked: majestic trees stand guard at the gateway; there are manicured lawns and rose gardens, as well as weeping willows, water features, and a goldfish pond.

Stepping across wide verandahs with loungers for lazy afternoons, you are transported into a gracious world of wood panelling and lead lighting, breathtaking chandeliers, huge open fires, gorgeous dressers, silverware, and fine china.

The guest rooms are beautifully appointed with exquisite attention to detail. Expect luxurious linens and fine antiques, and the fragrance of garden roses. The suite I stayed in was spacious, with a sitting area, log fire, a small library, and antiques such as a 1790 commode. The ensuite was stocked with bathrobes, Sheridan towels and complementary toiletries.

Separate to the main house, Lansdowne Villa provides alternative accommodation. It has its own driveway, three generous-sized double bedrooms, a new bathroom, separate dining and large lounge with TV, stereo, and log fire.

Nothing is too much trouble and every need is provided for here, from complimentary tea and homemade sandwiches, scones or cakes on arrival, to a well-stocked lolly jar and fresh fruit, daily papers, internet access, Sky TV, a lunch and dinner menu, and a full bar licence. Local wines are a specialty.

Hosts, Kadia and Richard Merralls, serve traditional home fare with a sophisticated twist. I especially enjoyed Kadia’s sage and cheese biscuits, whitebait fritters with lemon and Worcester sauce, and Kaipara smoked fish pâté on crostini toast. I departed with several new recipes to try at home.