Extended & adapted since the 17th century, the splendour of this substantial house is matched by its extravagant landscaped grounds. Hartwell may exude a certain formal charm, but the sunny dining room is less daunting than many country-house piles & the food shows a light, cosmopolitan touch. Confit of gently smoked Loch Duart salmon is imbued with flavours of beetroot, while smoked chicken cannelloni is paired with artichoke purée, kale & forest mushrooms. Mains also reveal first class-sourcing – perhaps loin of fallow deer with caramelised chicory, sprouting broccoli & rich red wine jus or fillet of brill with crushed Whitchurch potatoes, sauté leeks & Granny Smith apple cream. Well-spaced tables, attentive staff & a wide-ranging wine list add up to a tempting offer just 40 miles from London – it’s perfect for lunch, & impressive public rooms also beckon for classic afternoon tea (£19).