Over the years, squeezing in a quick December break has become a bit of a pre-Christmas tradition for Chris and me – it’s a chance to escape the shopping, the decorating and the frenetic preparations, and to relax somewhere quiet for a day or two. We always try to pick a suitably atmospheric spot and this year’s choice, The Crown in Amersham, was perfect – stylish, cosy and brimming with good cheer. Unfortunately my camera decided to enter winter hibernation just as we arrived, but I couldn’t resist sharing some photos of this beautiful old inn and so the manager kindly let me use some of theirs.
The Crown sits bang on the high street in the heart of a pretty Buckinghamshire market town, and its timber-framed façade was a welcome sight after negotiating Friday-evening traffic on the M25. Our arrival coincided with distinctly un-festive drizzle, but our spirits soared as we ducked through the low front door and checked in at the bar, which was filled with happy chatter and warmth from a crackling fire.
The Crown is more than 500 years old, and its long history includes several fires, umpteen refurbishments and, more recently, a stint as a filming location for Four Weddings and a Funeral. The rambling interior is packed with old-world charm, and the journey from reception to our room took us up and down creaking staircases, along twisting corridors, and past signs warning us to watch our footing on the uneven floors.
All the inn’s bedrooms retain the same character as the communal areas, but most have been given a complete overhaul by renowned designer Isle Crawford. Beneath beamed ceilings and leaded windows (and, in one room, a hand-painted mural from 1550) are cowhide rugs, sleek wooden chairs topped with sheepskins, rain showers clad in metro tiling, and huge beds swathed in Welsh woollen blankets. The overall effect is a pared-down blend of rustic and contemporary, and it works beautifully within the building’s old bones. We particularly loved all the little details in our room – a Penguin classic by the bed, a pour-over coffee maker in the corner, robes waiting in the wardobe, and a bright-red Roberts radio next to a complimentary bottle of wine.
As soon as we’d dumped our bags, we trotted back downstairs for dinner – a delicious feast of ham-hock terrine, beef sirloin, and wild mushroom gnocchi with a truffle sauce. And afterwards we slept like logs – partly due to the wonderful mattress, partly due to that bottle of wine, and partly due to the lack of a yowling cat demanding food at 5am.
Breakfast the next morning didn’t disappoint, either. Along the centre of the dining room was a long wooden table heaped with fruits, cereals, pastries and juices, and hot dishes (bacon and eggs for me, eggs Florentine for Chris) were delivered to our table with steaming cafetières of coffee.
As for Amersham itself, it was a lovely little place to while away a couple of days. The high street is lined with smart red-brick houses, all festooned with wreaths and fairy lights during our visit, and we had great fun pottering around, admiring front doors and picking out our dream country abode.
And in hindsight, my camera’s demise might have been a blessing… Doing what I do, the temptation to take countless photos is hard to resist, but this time round I was forced to kick back and enjoy my stay. Sometimes life is a little bit sweeter when not viewed through a lens…
Photography via The Crown