While all eyes are on London for the Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics, here are a bunch of royal getaways that you don't want to miss. Each of the 5 getaways listed below are historically significant properties that allow guests to literally walk in the footsteps of royalty. More than a few show a shade of the royal family that many Americans have never seen -- green.
These are just a few places where you can experience living history, the best that England has to offer, just like royalty.
<strong>Highgrove</strong> is the private residence of H.R.H. Charles, The Prince of Wales, and it is not an understatement when he writes, "I have put my heart and soul into Highgrove." HRH is committed to leading the sustainability movement by example at Highgrove. You can see a slide show of select pictures at Highgrove in my blog entitled, "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/natalie-pace/natures-prince_b_1580640.html" target="_hplink">Nature's Prince</a>," which I encourage you to read for a complete rundown of all of the features of this extraordinary green, organic property. Up to 33,000 guests tour the estate of Highgrove annually to experience the tastes, smells, look and feel of organic gardens that put Nature back at the center of things. If you would like to book a tour, go to <a href="http://www.highgroveshop.com/" target="_hplink">HighgroveShop.com</a>. <a href="http://www.barnsleyhouse.com/" target="_hplink">Barnsley House</a> and <a href="http://www.calcotmanor.co.uk/about-us" target="_hplink">Calcot Manor House</a> are the best places to lodge while you tour Highgrove, and each have their own intimate connections to The Prince of Wales. Photo by Andrew Lawson. (c) A G Carrick.
<a href="http://www.barnsleyhouse.com/" target="_hplink">Barnsley House</a>, which was built in 1697, was once the home of Rosemary Verey, an internationally acclaimed garden designer and consultant to The Prince of Wales. Modern travelers can stay in the historic farmhouse or one of the adjacent cottage suites, each of which are en suite with a unique, and fun, flair to farm house lodging. You'll want to spend most of your time exploring outdoors. However, there is also a private film screening room, a delightful spa and wonderful meals with organic food picked from the walled garden to enjoy at Barnsley House as well. <em>Barnsley House. Photo by Marie Commiskey. (c) 2012. Used with permission. </em>
<a href="http://www.calcotmanor.co.uk/about-us" target="_hplink">Calcot Manor House</a> is a better choice if you are bringing kids or teens. The estate boasts an indoor pool, kid-friendly bunk beds, play areas for children and The Mez (with Playstations, X-boxes and Wiis) for teens. Staying in a country house that dates back to the 14th century is a delight for all. Calcot is so close to Highgrove that the restaurant caters, on occasion, to the royals, includes some of their meat and produce on the menu and is the catering service used by Beaufort Polo Club, a field where Prince Charles, William and Harry have all played. The individually-designed rooms are quite large and fun in an of themselves, with side by side His and Her tubs in the loft style bath area of the room I was in.
If you're interested in a royal riding holiday on one of the last remaining wildernesses in the world, Dartmoor, <a href="http://www.torroyal.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Tor Royal</a> is the best option. When Steven Spielberg was in Dartmoor filming <em>War Horse</em>, he wrote, "I have never before been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty... With two-and-a-half weeks of extensive coverage of landscapes and skies, I had hardly scratched the surface of the visual opportunities that were offered to me." Tor Royal is now a B&B, but it once served as the discrete farm house escape for many Princes of Wales and their errr... closest friends. The Royal Suite includes a master bedroom with The Prince of Wales insignia décor, stunning moor views, an atrium living room, a formal dining room and a reading room. The stables house people-friendly horses for the beginning to the expert rider. I was raised on a farm, riding horses almost daily, and I've never had more fun riding than I did with Bobby, who loves to canter across the moor. Pop into the <a href="http://theprinceofwales.mydnd.com/" target="_hplink">Prince of Wales</a> pub to meet the locals and have a pint of locally produced Dartmoor or Jail Ale. Be sure to tour the<a href="http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/visiting/vi-planningyourvisit/vi-infocentres/vi-highmoorlandcentre" target="_hplink"> Visitor Center</a> in Princetown, where you'll see the Ballroom of the former Duchy Hotel, again, adorned with The Prince of Wales insignia throughout. Americans and the French particularly will appreciate The Church of <a href="http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/Ourchurches/Completelistofchurches/Church-of-St-Michael-All-Angels-Princetown-Devon/" target="_hplink">St. Michael's and All Angels</a> (built in 1814) and the obelisks honoring the POWs who passed away in the Dartmoor Prison. Plan on staying at Tor Royal at least three days. It takes half a day (at least) to slow your pace down to appreciate the remoteness and charm of Princetown. Also, the weather on the moor is damp and you want to be sure to get in more than one ride without having to brave a downpour (which I did, pat myself on the back!).
<a href="http://www.theritzlondon.com/" target="_hplink">The Ritz London</a> is one of the world's iconic hotels, with an enviable location just steps from St. James Palace and Buckingham Palace. (The location alone will save you beaucoup pounds of cab fare and time!) Since <a href="http://www.theritzlondon.com/" target="_hplink">The Ritz London</a> opened in 1906, the hotel has hosted "the great and the good, the intelligentsia, the glitterati and thousands of discerning guests" both discretely and for high profile photo opportunities. King Edward VIII hosted parties and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday there. Charlie Chaplin required 40 police officers to make his way through fans. Celebrity and royal guests of the Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, stayed at The Ritz London on that occasion. In short, the sky is the limit at The Ritz London. Whatever royal experience you can imagine, they will create it -- provided you don't wear sneakers inside the hotel. (They may have to make an exception for Mark Zuckerberg!)
The <strong><a href="http://www.duchyofcornwallholidaycottages.co.uk/cottage/restormel-manor-cottages.php" target="_hplink">Restormel Manor House and Cottages</a></strong> are self-contained holiday homes, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, which are available for weekly rentals. You will sleep just steps beneath the ancient castle of Restormel, which was owned by the Black Prince, son of King Edward III, in 1362. <a href="http://www.duchyofcornwallholidaycottages.co.uk/cottage/restormel-manor-cottages.php" target="_hplink">Restormel Manor House and Cottages</a> are family-friendly and wallet-friendly, with an indoor-heated pool, tennis court, game room, outdoor play area and endless grazing fields, full of cattle and sheep. Just down the road, you'll find exceptional food in the village of Lostwithiel. The Fowey River offers fun in the summer for kids, who wade and splash around, while the parents picnic. It's great fun to shower surrounded by the Duchy of Cornwall tiles and have your tea in a Duchy tea set. The beds are fluffy beyond compare. Browse the Restormel Manor House guest book and you'll find that the Middletons visited over Christmas recently. It is easy to spend a week in Cornwall. Tintagel Castle, where Merlin's Cave and the ruins associated with the King Arthur Legend are located, and Boscastle are both visually stunning seaside destinations. The world-famous <a href="http://www.edenproject.com/" target="_hplink">Eden Project</a>, with their impressive Rain Forest and Meditteranean biodomes, is just up the road from Restormel. The Eden Project is a hands-on educational, important, fun and inspiring horticultural wonder, with plenty of viral ideas -- including <a href="http://www.thebiglunch.com/" target="_hplink">The Big Lunch</a>. HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh officially opened The Eden Project on June 1, 2006, and the Project is part of the <a href="https://www.edenproject.com/blog/index.php/tag/queen-elizabeth-diamond-jubilee-trust/" target="_hplink">Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust</a>, working to encourage urban communities to grow their own food. You can stop by <a href="http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Stonehenge</a> on the way from London.
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