Spectacular is a word that can be used repeatedly when referring to Coworth Park. It can be used, but that word only begins to scratch the surface of what guests can expect at this country estate property located in the spiffy London suburb of Ascot, just 40 minutes from the city-center.
This is a place that leaves you breathless from the moment you drive up until a long time after you’ve left its sublime setting far behind. Guests here are welcomed by a landscape bursting with glee and color—acre upon acre of knee-high wild flowers where red and yellow poppies and pale blue and white cornflowers intermingle with wispy green stems that sway gently in the breeze. Random pathways thread through this floral dreamscape, leading to secluded areas underneath majestic oaks begging to be idyllic picnic spots. The sight is simply magnificent and it’s only a precursor to the fabulous property guests will find at the end of this flower-laden rainbow. The Mansion House—the property’s elegant white Georgian-style centerpiece—awaits guests with 30 of Coworth Park’s 70 rooms and suites, the formal John Campbell restaurant, and lounge areas and terraces that overlook meticulously maintained gardens and tranquil water features.
At the Mansion House’s front entrance, the jovial tweed-clad doormen quickly whisk guests into the modern reception area and it’s there guests realize Coworth Park has skillfully blended the traditional British style of warm hospitality with a modern, sometimes quirky and playful design style. It all comes together remarkably well, with interesting and unusual sculpture elements throughout the property, mostly following an equestrian or foliage theme.
At check-in, gone is the usual imposing stand up desk, replaced by comfy armchairs in front of sleek low-lying colorful tables where an engaging receptionist taps away gently on her Apple MacBook.
The rooms, too, are a delight. They are luxurious, spacious, elegant and stylish, with subdued and neutral colors throughout, and with many featuring metal four poster beds. The grand marble-encased bathrooms feature a free-standing copper bathtub strategically positioned to afford relaxing views of the English countryside. And to aid in the relaxation process, a copy of “The Book of Idle Pleasures” is thoughtfully provided in the bath rack. Other accommodations include 28 rooms and suites in the separate renovated stables area, all with crisp modern furnishings and equestrian accents; 11 rooms in The Cottages section; and the top-end Dower House, a historic 3-bedroom residence that comes complete with its own gardens and lake—swans included.
Coworth Park is the latest addition to the prestigious Dorchester Collection—whose sister properties include the likes of London’s immortal The Dorchester, Le Meurice and Plaza Athenee in Paris, and The Beverly Hills Hotel. It was also the former private polo lodge of the group’s owner and consequently retains its strong equestrian heritage. It boasts two polo fields used regularly for professional cup matches and a working equestrian center stabling up to 40 horses. The center offers guests a variety of rides or lessons depending upon skill level and it’s hard to think of a better prelude to dinner than to spend an afternoon exploring the delightful grounds on horseback as you pass open fields, leafy wooded areas, ponds and lakes and the aforementioned flower fields. This, after all, is some of England’s most picturesque countryside and just up the road is Windsor Great Park, the expansive “backyard” to Windsor Castle where the Queen comes to relax.
In fact, a “weekend in the country” has for centuries been a British aristocratic tradition for the wealthy elite. During that time, they forsake the frantic pace of the city for a welcome period of relaxation at a country retreat with some pampering, fine dining and perhaps a little horse riding thrown in. Coworth Park brings that concept up to date.
Guests will want to indulge in The Spa, the spectacular (there’s that word again), eco-inspired structure whose undulating Living Roof blends into the surrounding woody landscape. Light and airy, The Spa offers numerous treatment and relaxation rooms, a fitness center, a sun terrace and an indoor heated pool complete with underwater music. The onsite Spatisserie restaurant serves light meals and champagne.
Another must-try onsite dining option is The Barn, an informal restaurant featuring traditional British comfort food and styled with stone floors, vintage wooden tables and expansive windows. Still, a Coworth Park visit would be incomplete without sampling the exceptional John Campbell restaurant. Sumptuous and yet understated, this is superb fine dining in an innovative British style, but not for the faint of wallet. The well-balanced and delicious 8-course tasting menu allows the restaurant’s Michelin-starred chef to shine and features such items as foie-gras with mango, monkfish with aubergine and rabbit with ricotta gnocchi. No pub grub here, although the restaurant does serve an excellent traditional English breakfast on the terrace, weather permitting.