I Stayed at Meghan and Harry’s Babymoon Hotel, and—Surprise—It Was Amazing
The English countryside is full of posh manor homes, many of which have played host to royalty over the years. Since moving to England three years ago, I’ve stayed in a lot of them, most far too expensive for the average traveler. So when offered an opportunity to head an hour outside London to Hampshire’s Heckfield Place, the famous site of Harry and Meghan’s babymoon, I assumed it would be just another fancy hotel.
RELATED: 9 Fairy-Tale Castles You Can Stay at for a Cozy Winter Getaway
To be clear, Heckfield Place is fancy. Like, top 1 percent, having-a-butler-is-normal fancy. But it’s also unlike most of the other English country hotels I’ve stayed in. It feels casual and upscale at the same time, sort of like visiting your wealthy aristocratic grandmother at her estate where tea and cake are served every afternoon in the drawing room, but where you can also wear yoga pants around the grounds. No detail is missed, from the massive collection of Hunter rain boots ready to protect your feet from the mud to the free snacks and homemade sodas in the minibar. I can understand why a set of royals, faced with endless public pressure and stress, might decamp here for a few days.
My husband joined me for a recent Sunday excursion to Heckfield Place (it was not so much a babymoon and more like a thank-God-we-don’t-have-a-baby-and-can-travel-moon), and the hotel gifted us with one of their Chamber Rooms. It was larger than our London apartment, a fact that my husband commented on several times, and I found myself hanging out in the bathroom a lot thanks to the heated marble floors. While there are activities like fishing and horse riding at the ready for guests to book (for a fee), the best part about Heckfield Place was the lack of doing. I read, took a bath, walked around the ponds in my loaner Hunter swag and just sat. The possibility of uninterrupted quiet time alone is almost worth the £750 per night price tag.
Heckfield Place has a policy about protecting their VIP guests—of which there have been many—so the employees wouldn’t confirm that Harry and Meghan stayed in the hotel’s most expensive room, The Long Room, last spring ahead of Archie’s birth. During a tour of the property, our guide mentioned that the hotel is prepared to deal with high-profile visitors and even has a special plan to evacuate them away from the public during a fire alarm. The Long Room, which goes for £10,000 per night (the royals reportedly stayed for three), has its own kitchen and staff, which means that guests don’t necessarily need to visit the restaurants or bar and can remain anonymous. It’s telling that no photos of Harry and Meghan during their stay ever emerged. If I ever get really famous, this is the place I would go on vacation.
It’s hard to find flaws with Heckfield Place, although a few details could be—and are being—improved. At the moment, there are no spa facilities outside the Little Bothy Spa, which you need an appointment to visit. A hotel with these prices should have a pool, sauna and steam room (see: Cliveden House Hotel) at the ready for guests, and the current fitness center is essentially a high-end home gym that you have to ask the staff to access. Heckfield Place is currently remedying this, with a large spa facility under construction, likely to open early next year. For now, the in-room bathtubs will have to suffice.
It’s easy to imagine you’re someone important when staying at Heckfield Place, even for a night. “We’re basically Harry and Meghan,” my husband said at one point, referencing his red hair and the fact that I moved to London from California to marry a Brit. (His claims that he’s essentially a prince are more unfounded.) And yes, I can see why this place would appeal to someone like Meghan. The hotel has its own farm and gardens that provide much of the restaurants’ produce and herbs, and there’s a value placed on wellness, from the small yoga studio in the gym to the green juice at breakfast.
For me, though—and I assume for Meghan—wellness extends beyond those details. It’s about having time to be left alone and getting to spend uninterrupted moments with your significant other. We need to be able to travel to places that let us feel removed from the burdens of everyday life, which explains the appeal of most English country hotels. At Heckfield Place for a night, or three, you can be worry-free. If only I could afford to stay longer. Or just move in.