This largely Palladian villa offers an escape to a gracious country house with a magnificent collection of Old Masters and beautiful grounds, all within a short Tube ride from Central London. It was originally built in 1616 and later expanded, first by Robert Adam starting in 1767 and later by George Saunders in 1795. Adam refaced most of the exterior and added the splendid library, which, with its vaulted ceiling and Corinthian columns, is the highlight of the house's design. A major renovation restored four rooms to reflect Adam's intentions as closely as possible, incorporating the furniture he designed for them and his original color schemes. Kenwood is also home to the Iveagh Bequest, a world-class collection of some 60 paintings that includes masterworks like Rembrandt's Portrait of the Artist and Vermeer's The Guitar Player, along with major works by Reynolds, Van Dyck, Hals, Gainsborough, and Turner. The grounds, designed by Humphrey Repton and bordered by Hampstead
Heath, are equally elegant and serene, with lawns sloping down to a little lake crossed by a trompe-l'oeil bridge. All in all, the perfect home for an 18th-century gentleman. In summer, the grounds host a series of popular and classical concerts, culminating in fireworks on the last night. The Brew House café, occupying part of the old coach house, has outdoor tables in the courtyard and a terraced garden. The exteriors for the 2014 movie Belle, the story of Kenwood House's 18th-century resident Lord Mansfield and his family, were shot here.