Three historic hotels, including a listed house dating back to the 13th century, have been given to the National Trust in a landmark deal for the hospitality industry.
Hartwell House near Aylesbury, Bodysgallen Hall in North Wales, and Middlethorpe Hall, in York have been given to Europe's biggest conservation organisation by their owner, Historic House Hotels.
They will become the property of the National Trust, ensuring they can never be sold and will be preserved for the public.
The buildings will continue as working hotels and be run by their existing management but with three National Trust directors joining the boards.
All profits will go to Trust funds to maintain the hotels. The National Trust said it planned to open the gardens and grounds of the hotels to visitors as well as tours of the ground floor rooms.
Although the National Trust owns accommodation, ranging from youth hostels to holiday cottages, the latest hotel deal is the biggest of its kind so far.
Dame Fiona Reynolds, director-general of the National Trust, said: "The Trust's survival is highly dependent on gifts and legacies large and small. These very special properties will help our work and contribute importantly to the upkeep of houses, nature, coastline and landscapes."
Hartwell House is a Grade-I listed house in 90 acres of gardens and parkland. Now a 50-bedroom hotel with a restaurant and spa, it was the home and court of the exiled King of France, Louis XVIII between 1809 and 1814.
Bodysgallen is another Grade-I listed house, largely built between 1620 and 1900 and can trace its origins to the 13th century.
Middlethorpe Hall, a red brick and stone house built in 1699, became a nightclub during the 1980s before being restored.
By Nick Huber
E-mail your comments to Nick Huber here.