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This Historic ‘Downton Abbey’-Style Estate Is the English Countryside’s Newest Luxury Retreat

The Langley was once the Duke of Marlborough’s former hunting lodge. Now, it's a five-star hotel.

The Langley Photo: Courtesy of James Balston Photography

After six years of renovations, many millions of dollars, and countless hours of artisan work, this June saw the opening of The Langley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buckinghamshire, on a bucolic estate that once belonged to the third Duke of Marlborough. With its Palladian-style manor home, heritage-listed Brew House, and vast gardens planned by legendary 18th-century landscape designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown, the 41-room spot marries the rich traditions of the English country retreat with the perks of a modern five-star hotel. The process of doing so, however, wasn’t always as seamless as things now look in these exclusive photos.

The Langley

The Langley  Photo: Courtesy of James Balston Photography

“There were definitely some challenges along the way,” says designer Dennis Irvine of Dennis Irvine Studio, the firm that helmed the Luxury Collection Hotel project. (Known for crafting high-end residences, the studio has also designed the interiors for super-yachts and resorts such as Jumby Bay.) Aside from the task of transforming a former private home—which had been left dilapidated for years—into a hotel, the biggest hurdles arose from the property’s historic status. “Because the property is Grade II star listed, heritage and planning societies were involved every step of the way, and had to approve and permit many of the works,” Irvine explains. This included making sure that historically-accurate paints and lathe-and-plaster restoration techniques were employed by specially-trained artisans, that no archaeologically significant elements were found or disturbed, and even that the property’s resident native bats were protected. “We had to design special lighting that wouldn’t disrupt their flight path, and build them a heated bat house,” laughs Irvine.

The Langley

The Langley’s Turkish-style spa  Photo: Courtesy of James Balston Photography

After all that effort, though, the results speak for themselves. The restored bath stone exterior now gleams with golden hues, 200-year-old bookcases have been refurbished and lined with period-appropriate tomes, twenty original Georgian and Victorian fireplaces and an original mosaic entryway floor have been brought back to life, and a pair of 19th-century cast bronze Venetian doors—first brought to the house by in 1903—now frame the reception desk. The curated art collection includes pieces that pay homage to previous occupants of the estate, and Irvine has commissioned a host of bespoke and custom elements to adorn the modern-regal spaces, including multi-tier Dernier & Hamlyn chandeliers, pleated velvet Bart Halpern upholstery, Lawton Cole and De’Art furniture, and hand-painted Fromenthal wall coverings. Along with classic afternoon tea, a Victorian rock garden, and a bar stocked with cigars and cognacs, guests will also find new elements not around during the days of the Duke—including a subterranean spa with a Turkish hammam, Himalayan salt room, and a marble-lined swimming pool.

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