Dust off your frocks and polish those pins: spring is in the air and summer fun is on the horizon. What better way to celebrate than a luxurious weekend in the country to watch a spot of polo or horse-racing? And Ascot is the epicentre of all things equestrian. It also happens to be just 40 minutes from London and home to the beautiful Coworth Park, an ideal spot for a rather English weekend break.
Despite being part of the renowned Dorchester Collection, boasting an eco spa and a restaurant in the hands of a Michelin star winning chef, I was a little nervous about visiting Coworth Park. Five-star credentials aside, the spa hotel is rather close to Slough and Heathrow for starters. It’s also within reach of parts of Surrey and Berkshire that I associate with white Range Rovers, men-only golf clubs and Botox. Being more in favour of understated, rustic luxury, I wasn’t sure how I’d respond to such bling.
Apprehension vanished within ten minutes of arrival. As we drove past a croquet lawn, parked up next to a gleaming white country house and were ushered to a Mansion House Junior Suite, I quickly realised Coworth Park definitely wasn’t what might be described as OTT bling.
Coworth Park’s interior design is intriguingly eclectic. Cool, calm colours and country house classics mix effortlessly with modern touches – huge bronze sculptures for chandeliers and floor to ceiling apple boxes filled with sunflowers. Our Junior Suite (the hotel has 70 rooms, including 16 suites) provided everything required to instantly unwind; woodland views, a huge four poster bed, copper roll top bath and a walk in shower the size of my entire bathroom. The entertainment system needed explanation (which must mean it’s fancy), and the complimentary Nespresso machine, fruit bowl and homemade biscuits made the room service charges less of a concern.
The hotel’s many communal spaces make soaking up spring or summer sun (with afternoon tea or cocktails) an obligatory part of any visit; the bar and drawing room both open out onto a large terrace where steps sink down to a pretty rose and water garden. To one side is a croquet lawn and tennis courts are on the other, whilst a wild flower meadow fills the distant view with colour until the fringes of the hotel’s polo fields and stables. With the extensive renovation of the house and grounds being barely five years old, there is nothing shabby-chic or rustic in sight. Sipping on gin and tonics in the early evening sun, Coworth Park feels more The Hamptons than English home counties.
Dinner at the Restaurant Coworth Park didn’t disappoint either. The atmosphere provided the perfect setting to indulge, with families and couples celebrating various events and service being more friendly than stuffy. We opted for the A La Carte menu, improved by the Sommelier’s tasting notes throughout. The food was both delicious and interesting – from melt-in-the-mouth foie gras to poached pheasant eggs with mozzarella balls and poached trout topped with apple foam. Champagne seemed to flow freely throughout the room all evening – a nod to the kind of bling I can’t say I struggle with.
If any kind of over-indulgence guilt set in the next day, it was quickly brushed to one side by the healthy breakfast, spa and sporting activities on tap. Fresh fruit, yoghurt, poached eggs, smoked salmon and homemade bread was enough to last me a good couple hours of swimming and poolside lounging. Multiple spa treatments are on offer as well as a gym with personal trainers and a ‘spatisserie’ serving a plethora of health-inducing juices and lunches. With polo pitches and stables on site there are heaps of equestrian activities on offer as well as tennis, croquet, shooting, fishing and other ‘country pursuits’ making it very easy indeed to while away a weekend at Coworth Park.
In the Area…
The area surrounding Coworth Park is best known for horses, golf and the royals. Ascot racecourse is just down the road, giving those that fancy their chances the opportunity to win the cost of their room back at the races. If you don’t mind tourists then it’s worth a trip to Windsor to see the castle and the Great Park. Better still is the pretty village of Bray, a few miles further up the Thames, where there are more Michelin stars than corner shops.
Rooms at Coworth Park start at £306 including breakfast. A Mansion House Junior Suite starts at £522 and the A La Carte Menu is priced £65 per person for three courses, exclusive of drinks. Coworth Park is in Ascot, a 20 minute drive from Heathrow and close to Windsor. The nearest train station is Sunningdale. Visit the Coworth Park website for further information.