Location: Beaconsfield market town near Buckinghamshire’s beautiful Chiltern Hills
Perfect for: Seducing and seduction
More paradise lust than ‘Paradise Lost’, Beaconsfield’s Crazy Bear is maximalist in every sense. Dimly lit, seduction is top of its agenda. Low ceilings, ornate chandelirs, a 17ft Swaroswki crystal-studded banquette, 24 carat gold leaf walls, a swimming pool, leather floors, gilt mirrors – and right in the centre of the quiet town of Beaconsfield. Seriously, you’ve got to see it to believe it…
It’s a good job our taxi driver knows where to drop us, because apart from a very discreet ‘Hotel Reception’ sign, nothing gives away the location of the Crazy Bear hotel in Beaconsfield.
Beaconsfield is a pretty market town 30 minutes from London, with buckets of Old English charm.
“It was Benjamin Disraeli’s old constituency,” Monsieur 2 informs me, “home to literary greats like G. K. Chesterton and Enid Blyton, and,” he adds, “Milton, the poet, lived down the road, in Chalfont St Giles. That’s why we’re going to brush up on our English lit whilst we’re here.” He smiles, edging away from the white Bentley that’s just pulled up. “I see,” not that I need convincing – I love a good read.
Stepping off the pavement and out of the daylight into the Crazy Bear, it’s like we’ve stepped into another world. Originally a 15th century coaching inn, the Crazy Bear is dimly lit, low-ceilinged and flecked with mirrors and throne-like velvet chairs. It feels like a cross between an Edwardian pleasure parlour and a modern burlesque club. We half expect Dita von Teese to pop out with an ostrich feather fan.
“I beg your pardon!” I cry, when the very polite receptionist asks us to pre-authorise £150 for any charges incurred. “That’s more than any hotel’s ever asked us for before!” But then we’ve never stayed anywhere which has a restaurant with 24 carat gold leaf walls either. I swallow, and hand her my card.
Moving next door into the hotel lobby we clock a grand piano, two huge chandeliers and a lively crowd in the bar. “Very Footballers’ Wives” says Monsieur 2, cracking a wry smile.
Climbing the sweeping staircase to the first floor, we’re arrive at our room. “Blimey, it’s very dark!” Monsieur 2 exclaims, opening the heavy brocaded door. He’s right. Both the walls and floor (covered in leather) are black, and at this time of day, the only light comes from a few candle-effect lamps.
The focal point is the enormous golden bed although the beaten copper bathtub which stands at its foot, is pretty striking too. There are armchairs a velvet-covered chaise longue, and a small walk-in wardrobe.
“There’ll be no swotting up on our English lit here” I sigh. “I have a feeling the Crazy Bear is more about Paradise Lust than Paradise Lost.” We leave our books in the Mulberry.
We’re in the mood for aperitifs and, since we can’t find a minibar in our room, we head back downstairs.
The bar is seriously glitzy, with a jade marble floor, six 1930s crystal chandeliers and an enormous Swarovski studded black Chesterfield. It’s busy too, mostly with groups celebrating something.“G&T by the pool?” suggests Monsieur 2, gesturing to the hacienda-style terrace outside.
“This feels more like Barbados than Buckinghamshire; it’s fabulous!” Then the bill arrives. Almost £25 for two gin and tonics. Ahem.
The Crazy Bear has three restaurants – an English, Italian and Thai. We’re booked into the latter, a few doors down from the hotel, and as we enter, a gorgeous aroma of incense and Thai spices greets us. The smart beamed dining room sports the Crazy Bear’s signature chandeliers, but isn’t as overwhelmingly over the top as the hotel. Monsieur 2 and I smile in agreement.
“Decisions, decisions!” I murmur, eyeing the dizzyingly long menu and biting into one of the delicious prawn dumplings Heather, the delightful restaurant manager, has brought us whilst we’re debating our courses.
Soups to start, a coconut milk-laden tom kha gai for me and a fiercely spicy prawn tom yam for Monsieur 2, awaken our taste-buds nicely for the dishes that follow. We share a tiger prawn and scallop curry, noting its lovely subtle chilli heat, and a comparatively mild ostrich stir-fry, mopping up the rich sauces with excellent sticky rice.
Our pudding of salted butter peanut caramel, densely studded with pistachios and served alongside a bitter chocolate sorbet, is, we agree, one of the best things we’ve eaten all year. Service from Heather and her team is impeccable and we leave well-fed and beaming.
“Shall we give the tub a whirl?” asks Monsieur 2, a naughty glint in his eye. Filling from a tap set into the ceiling, the water cascades dramatically into our bath below; and with Molton Brown bubbles added, we’re ready for a luxuriant soak.
The combined effect of a good dinner, romantic bath and the sultriness of the lighting are proving rather seductive…
Waking from a peaceful night’s sleep, we search high and low for a tea tray only to find that there isn’t one – nor can we find the room service menu. “Never mind poppet,” I say to a grumpy Monsieur 2, “let’s just shower and go down to breakfast.” He growls his assent.
The bathroom is fabulous; a massive tiled wet-room with twin copper basins, twin toilets and a foot-wide rainfall shower. We feeling refreshed and invigorated in no time.
Breakfast is served in the flamboyant English restaurant (the room with 24 carat gold leaf walls).
It is virtually criminal not to indulge here. So after ordering the tea we’ve been craving, and taking our pick from the continental buffet, we do just that.
Monsieur 2 enjoys duck eggs Benedict for his cooked option, while I have foie gras with black pudding, poached duck eggs and apple puree. It’s very rich, but boy is it good. Rather like the hotel itself. Maximalist in every sense.
Our stay at the Crazy Bear has been an experience. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hard to beat for a louche, lusty escape from the real world. It has certainly had an effect on Monsieur 2, who is now hovering with intent by the piano. “Tally ho!” I pip, “we’ve got places to go, cottages (Milton’s) to snoop around!” And with that, Monsieur 2 joins me at the door, and we step out into the sunlight, looking forward to our day ahead.
Remember to mention les Deux Messieurs when you book!Not what you’re looking for. Discover other amazing UK cultural destinations and country breaks here
Stayed here? Tell us what you thought. The Crazy Bear is a gay friendly luxury hotel in Buckinghamshire Beaconsfield
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