London's a scintillating city, but when you feel the need for a bit of a country retreat - well, it's just a bus ride away. With its majestic neo-classical house set in over 350 acres of splendid parkland, gardens and farmland Osterley Park is a palatial jewel hidden in the great urban sprawl.
The house was built in what was once countryside - now the city suburb of Hounslow - on the site of a 16th century manor house, of which only the stables now remain. A creation of the architect and designer Robert Adam in the late 18th century for the banker Sir Thomas Grisham, it is considered to be perhaps the finest example of his work, and visitors touring the mansion's undeniably awe-inspiring interior will be left in no doubt as to its maker's genius.
The Garden House and flower-filled Pleasure Grounds offer a tranquil sanctuary, and a walk in the fields around the house is especially lovely in springtime. The Park, with its three serpentine shaped lakes is home to a variety of flora and fauna including a collection of oak trees and the largest cedar of Lebanon in London.
In the Park Farm Shop visitors can buy reasonably priced fresh vegetables and flowers grown on the estate, or enjoy homemade food in the Stables Tea Room (complete with children's menu and activity corner). And from March to October there are special family fun activities on the last Sunday of the month.
The graceful beauty of Osterley Park in all seasons keeps its visitors coming back for more.