Not surprisingly, you need look no farther than across the pond, to the graceful historic properties of the United Kingdom, to see the design chemistry that inspires us to no end about boutique hotels. Specifically, it's when that old world-meets-new world chemistry takes ancient history and makes it not just modern, but more alive than ever, that we get especially excited.
The UK, it goes without saying, is dotted with buildings as old as the western world—buildings that, in many cases, have witnessed the dawn of modern history. One of those properties is in Aynho, Oxfordshire. Looming like a towering tribute to a bygone era of extravagance, Aynhoe Park is as much a testament to history as one of the world's most lavish boutique hotels—something it's definitely become in 2014.
Built in 1615, the massive, ornate Jacobean country house endured some hard times at the dawn of its storied life. War, specifically the English Civil War, nearly cut its life brutally short. But in the same way that new forest life can be cultivated by fire, the maelstrom of war became a transformative phenomenon for Aynhoe Park. As a consequence, much of what can be seen today—the beautiful facade, the courtyards, even the Baroque stylings of its front entryway—were an effort to give the old girl new life, after its pre-war purity was largely blown away. Restoration and revitalization has been the the sustaining breath of Aynhoe Park for four centuries, and with some brilliant young minds on the scene, Aynhoe Park is taking some deep, healthy breaths these days.
Recently, we read about how this tradition continues, this time with the involvement of British designer Matthew Williamson. Having already been the location for a short film celebrating his work, his 40th birthday party, and other defining moments in Williamson's career, it seemed natural for the design heavyweight to take a crack at contributing to Aynhoe Park's history—in this case, by designing one of its suites.
The product is like the grand old structure itself: larger than life, glitteringly opulent, and alight with a standard of luxury that seems straight of of pre-revolutionary France. In the same way that our halls at Drake buzz with the minds of the artists who helped to create us, the same can be said for Aynhoe Park, too, especially with Williamson's eye on display. Its as if you rest your head in a museum and wake up in a dream.
Maybe that's why this taste for history is reflected in Aynhoe's Park branding: "Let us take you to a time you thought had passed."
It's a time that's alive and well in Oxfordshire, that's for sure.