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TEN 'GOLD MEDAL' PLACES TO ESCAPE THE OLYMPICS

Jessica Baldwin

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Yes, it's the moment we've all been waiting for; the Olympics are coming to London. But as the excitement builds a quarter of Londoners are frantically planning to escape the capital in search of rest and relaxation. So if the thought of travel mayhem and overflowing crowds is filling you with dread look no further, here are my top 10 Olympic retreats – and they're all within an hour from London!
The Grove

Just twenty minutes from Euston The Grove is fondly referred to as London's Country Estate. With an outdoor pool, beach volleyball court, table tennis in the potting shed and its elegant croquet lawn you can hold your own mini Olympics. Its playful contemporary style and chic spa attract reams of celebrities and with acclaimed chef Russell Bateman at the helm its fine dining restaurant, Colette's, certainly gives the capital's top eateries a run for their money.

Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa Restaurant

Hidden within Cuckfield, arguably one of the country's prettiest Tudor villages, this Elizabethan manor house is a haven for foodies, with a Michelin-starred restaurant and sweeping views of the South Downs. The peaceful hotel is an ideal base for exploring the stately homes of Kent and Sussex, or if you want to just stop, head down to their walled garden with a coffee and a good book. Bliss.

Tylney Hall Hotel

Set within acres of historic gardens Tylney Hall boasts the longest uninterrupted view in Hampshire. The grand country house hotel is a labyrinth of opulence with room after room marble fireplaces, wood panelling and floor to ceiling windows. Their elegant walled garden is home to a stunning outdoor pool and bar. For a romantic weekend to remember book a hot air balloon ride over the estate and surrounding countryside.

Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa

Most people only go to Luton to jet off on their holidays, but then most people don't know about Luton Hoo. The historic mansion set within 1,000 acres of formal gardens is home to a fantastic spa, restaurant and a golf course that's good enough to stop you getting on that aeroplane. The black cabs which transport you around the enormous estate are a nice reminder of the capital without the Olympic crowds.

Spa Illuminata Danesfield House

Walking along the sun-drenched banks of Marlow it's hard to believe you're just 45 minutes from the capital. One of the most luxurious bases to explore the beautiful Chilterns is Danesfield House. Home to the Michelin-starred Adam Simmonds restaurant ravenous guests can indulge in his amazing seven-course tasting menu. It's the little touches which give this hotel the edge; Egyptian cotton sheets, L'Occitane toiletries and fluffy bathrobes, not to mention its wonderful spa.

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