I lived just 20 miles from Coworth Park for almost five years and never knew it existed. This isn’t a failure on the part of the hotel’s marketing team, in fact, it’s one of the very things that makes Coworth Park so special. The illusive allure of this prestigious estate is what sets it apart from the rest; including its big brother, The Dorchester, which is undeniably one of the most famous places to stay in London.
Coworth Park is a secret just waiting to be discovered. And if you find yourself lucky enough to secure a reservation at this stunning estate then you’ll experience, first-hand, the magic that lies beyond the gate. An experience that is incredibly exclusive.
As you approach the entrance to Coworth Park you’d be forgiven for missing the understated and modest sign that signals your arrival. There’s no hint at the gate at the luxury and decadence that awaits inside this five-star destination. A sweeping drive leads you through the rolling lawns to the grand house, built in 1776 for a prosperous merchant. Over its centuries it has hosted royals – both past and present – and was owned by keen horsemen, aristocratic families and even the owner of Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason. In 2010, it was extensively renovated and reopened as part of the elite Dorchester Collection.
The opulent mansion seamlessly blends its historic charm and poise with a contemporary, chic style; aimed at pleasing the diverse range of visitors who make themselves at home here during numerous high-profile local events, such as Royal Ascot. The classic and graceful character meets sleek interiors to celebrate the British countryside that shaped this mansion – and still surrounds it to this day – in a refined but fun way.
The luxury experience starts as soon as you step out of your car; it’s all about indulging here. The staff – who are the real heartbeat of this hotel – pride themselves on treating everyone like a celebrity for the duration of their visit, whether you’re a prince on the eve of your Royal wedding (Yes, Prince Harry stayed here before his Windsor wedding to Meghan Markle!) or tourists who have saved up for years to experience the luxury they have on offer here. Everyone is courteous and professional, polite but also chatty and friendly.
The equestrian history of the site – and its proximity to some of the most famous horse events in the UK – clearly inspired the team at Coworth Park and there are horse themes everywhere you look, from the leather in balustrades, to the intricate horseshoe detailing on the bed linen, to the artwork and statues dotted everywhere around the estate.
The Mansion House – which boasts 30 exquisite rooms and suites, each oozing their own unique take on grandeur and magnificence – is enhanced by the addition of 40 stables and cottages which are set apart from the main house in an intimate enclave but retain the same refined beauty and luxury. The restored Grade II listed, three-bedroom Dower House offers the best of the best to guests who are looking for an added layer of privacy and seclusion during their stay. Earlier this year, the country house hotel unveiled its newest private three-bedroom cottage, North Lodge, which offers guests the ultimate staycation with all of the amenities of a luxury hotel but with the independence and privacy of a holiday cottage.
We were staying in the elegantly luxurious Weston Suite, on the first floor of The Mansion House. The vast suite offers residents a huge four-poster bed with thick, plush drapes and a high-tech TV that appears from the footboard, rising up at the click of a button. The room is light and airy thanks to large, dual-aspect sash windows, and high ceilings. A rich wood floor is softened with large rugs and snug furniture and soft furnishings, while there are homely touches and high-end pieces of art wherever you look.
Push open the double doors into the walk-through closet and lavish bathroom beyond for added opulence. The doorway is flanked with marble topped His and Hers sinks and vanity units, and a huge copper free-standing tub stands beneath a beautiful meadow mural, with subtle doors either side leading into the walk-in rain shower and loo.
It’s not just the room that is of the highest quality finish. Everything in it is top-notch too; from the beautiful fresh flowers on the dining table that bring the beauty of the gardens outside your window into the room, to the Bang Olufsen Bluetooth speaker so you can play your favourite tunes while you relax after a busy day exploring the estate, and the fragrant Mitchell and Peach toiletries you can use to scrub up ready for dinner. And for special occasions, anything is possible if you speak to concierge. We were lucky enough to arrive to a bottle of Veuve Clicquot on ice, a colourful fresh fruit bowl, and an intricately carved chocolate horse.
Food and drink
There are numerous dining options at Coworth Park; each with its own style and ambience. Enjoy a modern twist on British cuisine at Michelin-starred Restaurant Coworth Park, head to the Drawing Room for a delicious afternoon tea with glorious garden views, or for a nightcap, fine wine or handcrafted cocktail, The Bar is the place to be. For something a little less formal, jump in a golf buggy and whizz down to The Barn; a casual restaurant with rustic charm that overlooks a pretty stone bridge and offers stunning sunset views across the lake.
As the sun sinks and dusk turns the sky dark you can cosy up next to roaring fires or snuggle under a blanket while you enjoy seasonal dishes, local ales and wines to warm the soul. I chose the delicious cauliflower soup with sourdough bread to start, a steaming bowl of thick, rich flavour. As a main I opted for the sea bream with hand-rolled pasta, Cornish crab and a sharp lemon and parsley sauce. The fish was beautifully cooked with crispy skin and juicy flakes, sitting on top of delicately crafted pasta with fresh and tasty crab, all washed down with a carafe of red wine. For something sweet I treated myself to a light and refreshing mango and vanilla pebble with white chocolate, passionfruit and banana. Yum.
Breakfast – served in The Oak Room Restaurant – is a fine dining event to rival dinner. Impeccably dressed staff buzz around the dining room with grace, bringing baskets of freshly baked, flaky pastries and hot cups of coffee. The suave and charming maître d brought us our menus and, while we decided what to choose from the varied options on offer, we nibbled at a rich and delectable madeleine; made from Coworth Park’s own chocolate (crafted by executive chef, Adam Smith, with a French chocolatier to have the perfect balance of cocoa).
A continental spread offers cereals, yoghurts, fresh fruit platters, bagels, Acai bowls and toasties, or you can choose a hot option of cooked breakfast, eggs, waffles or pancakes. Rosebud preserves – made especially for the hotel – finish the table setting and offer you a sweet treat to top your toast. We went for the buttermilk pancakes – one serving with the American-inspired crispy bacon and maple syrup, the other with an off-menu side of yoghurt and berry compote – both hot and fluffy and filling.
Relaxing couldn’t be easier at Coworth Park; in fact, the whole estate is set up for it. Whether it’s a quiet stroll through the grounds watching the red kites swoop overhead or the swans gliding across the lake, or a quiet afternoon playing croquet on the front lawn and sipping a refreshing cocktail; there’s something to help anyone unwind here. But, for the ultimate in relaxation, you need to head to The Spa at Coworth Park; an oasis of calm and peace nestled in the grounds.
The Spa is a stunning, purpose-built building of glass and grass, designed to complement the natural beauty of the site with serene spaces and state-of-the-art facilities sitting beneath a living roof which sinks the whole structure into the ground. The five-star service continues here with staff on hand to open doors, bring you towels and water, and cater to your every need so you can concentrate on some serious relaxation.
We headed up to the lounge to meet our therapists and were whisked off to our treatment rooms – all named after herbs and flowers from the gardens – for the most relaxing 60 minutes of our entire stay. I sank into the warm, fluffy towels as the chimes and gongs of the soothing soundtrack echoed around the double-height, bright white room.
The team here pride themselves on offering guests an experience that is memorable and unique from other spa visits; and the minimalist but airy treatment rooms are certainly different to most of the dimly lit, snug spaces I’ve found myself in before. I buried my face into the soft heated bed, breathed in the aromas of peppermint and lavender-infused ishga oil and drifted off into a quietude as my masseuse’s hands glided over my skin and kneaded my muscles with the hot stones, easing all of the aches and pains of a busy everyday life.
Ishga – derived from the Gaelic word for ‘water’ – makes organic and sustainable products using pure Scottish seaweed which is prized for its therapeutic properties and the spa has an extensive treatment menu boasting an array of ishga options.
Laying in the relaxation room, the soft cream curtains blowing in the gentle breeze and the sprinkler spurting jets of water across the dewy grass outside, I could have whiled away hours. But there was still much to see. Beautiful metalwork reeds line the corridors that fan off from the spa’s reception and lead you from the treatment rooms and manicure suite to the luxurious changing rooms, The Spatisserie – a great place to grab a light bite – or down to the pool on the lower level. Whimsical photography of the countryside adorns the walls and even the staff uniform ties in with the stunning outside views, with pretty floral fabric ties looped around their waists.
The pool room is warmed by the huge floor-to-ceiling glass doors that invite the light to flood inside and slide open onto a sun-kissed terrace – cocooned by a grassy bank which offers privacy, shelter and tranquillity and, in the height of summer, transforms into a spectacular wildflower meadow. The infinity pool glows blue and rippling water laps against a line of towering amethyst sculptures which lead through to the steam room and experience shower. Float in the serene water, unwind and contemplate; but plunge your head beneath the surface and your ears are filled with a symphony of sounds as the underwater speakers play dulcet tones.
The residential spa – which offers very few day spa packages – is always a sanctuary of peace and quiet. We had to book our pool slots, organised as 45-minute bookings allowing 15 minutes for staff to clean between guests, as part of the award-winning Covid protocols they’ve introduced here. The Good Spa Guide was so impressed with the steps the team have taken that Coworth Park was named as winner in the ‘Best Response to Covid’ category at the 2020 awards. And we enjoyed the fact that it meant we mostly had the whole pool and terrace to ourselves!
There are endless ways to explore the 240 acres of beautiful grounds that surround the hotel. You could take a relaxed stroll down to the duck pond, borrow bikes and cycle around the polo fields, ask staff to take you on a golf buggy tour, or even book a riding lesson so you can explore the polo fields and paddocks on horseback.
In a nutshell
Coworth Park is one of the finest country hotels in the Southeast and oozes history, charm, opulence and decadence. Its classic and refined design is sure to be to anyone’s taste and there’s so much to do that you need never leave the 240-acre estate. While Coworth Park may not be one of the most well-known hotels in the area, it is certainly one of the best. I would go as far as to say that it’s Berkshire’s best-kept secret. So shhhhh, let’s keep it that way!
Amy stayed in a Mansion House Junior Suite, with rates starting from £1,135 per night, subject to change.
Address: Coworth Park, Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7SE
Phone: 01344 876600
Amy’s trip was organised in partnership with The Good Spa Guide. The Good Spa Guide Awards are voted for by the public and Coworth Park won the Best Response to Covid-19 category (sponsored by ishga) for embracing new or different ways of working to ensure the guest experience is not compromised by the pandemic rules. For more information visit goodspaguide.co.uk.
Photography courtesy of Coworth Park.