Fast-forward to 2015 and five-star Hertfordshire hotel Hanbury Manor is marking its 25th anniversary as a hotel by screening movies from this bumper year of cinematic greats at intimate locations within the hotel.
Screenings are open to the public as well as guests, and the series got underway on 13 February with a special Valentine’s showing of the iconic Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore romance, Ghost. It’s a film I’ve seen plenty of times before (cheesy, funny, sad, a great soundtrack - what’s not to like?) but never on a retro screen, from a squishy sofa in the atmospheric Poles Hall, where flickering candles lit up portraits of towering Tudor monarchs.
Poles Hall, with its vaulted ceiling and minstrels' gallery, forms the original part of this stately building (dating back over 400 years), formerly the home of the Pole and Hanbury families, then a girls’ convent school.
Today, with its imposing gothic architecture and over 150 elegant rooms, it lends itself perfectly to a hotel and wedding venue. Set in 200 acres of parkland, it’s also an established golf retreat (an 18-hole PGA Championship course) and I have it on good authority that the spa is well worth a visit.
After the film, I slipped away to enjoy a G&T in Hanbury’s fabulous Oak Hall lounge, just off the reception hall. It’s a grand space, with all the historic stateliness (lived-in leather sofas, wood paneling, another minstrels' gallery) of a great country house. Hanbury also brews its own ale, from an old family recipe, which is available from the bar and restaurants and was given nods of approval by the ale enthusiasts in our party.
Hanbury has two dining options: the impressive, classical Zodiac Restaurant, where they serve their stunning afternoon teas, and the less formal Oakes Grill, serving a range of British fish, meat and vegetarian dishes. My ‘Prestige’ guest room, with views of the golf course and ancient cedar tree, was modern, spacious and quiet, with an enormous bed and luxurious bathroom.
Hanbury Manor is an excellent choice for a romantic weekend away, whether you’re a golf lover, in need of a relaxing spa break or just fancy being wined and dined in a superb historic setting. For more information about their next screening, go online.
Hanbury Manor is located 35 miles from Cambridge and 25 miles from London. Rooms are from £109 pp.