When choosing a retreat to relax and withdraw, for a brief while, from everyday toils and troubles, you might want to consult distinguished experts in the travel industry of which there are many. These have indeed bestowed many an accolade on our resort for the weekend. Still, we want to find out for ourselves if Coworth Park deserves the bountiful praise it has received since it opened its doors as part of the distinguished Dorchester Collection.
The signs are there. You start to relax the moment you enter Coworth Park’s picturesque parkland. Even as you approach the stately house from afar, you gain a sense of serenity and slowly but surely your worry makes way for quiet contemplation. This splendid country house hotel on the borders of Windsor Great Park has a sense of high-end style without stuffiness. This you sense early on from the staff, greeting you as you step out of your car, catering for your requests at the desk or advising you on your stay. A more idyllic place for a romantic retreat is hard to find, and from what we saw during our brief stay, this is equally popular with families seeking a relaxing break with a dash of adventure only a forty-five minute drive or from London Waterloo station with [South West railways] (www.southwestenrailways.com). with A palette of subtle colours lends an air of calm to the spacious rooms and suites, harmonising perfectly with nature’s warm colours of autumn outside. While tempted to enjoy a little more seclusion in the self-contained converted Stables and Cottages, we choose to stay in the Mansion House not least for its Georgian grandeur and style.
Coworth Park’s restaurants feature the finest locally-sourced seasonal ingredients, what they fittingly describe as Best of British. Located within the Mansion House, Restaurant Coworth Park offers one Michelin-starred dining where executive chef Adam Smith showcases a modern presentation of classic British flavour combinations. Should you desire comfort food in a less formal setting, you may want to sample The Barn’s rustic charm where diners are more than welcome to keep their muddy boots on. Where do they get muddy you may wonder. If the weather does not favour tennis or croquet, you can take part in other quintessentially English activities, go horse riding or even take polo lessons with Guards Polo Club on one of Coworth Park’s two professional polo fields.
The Spa at Coworth Park is set apart from the main mansion and something of an architectural wonder. Partially submerged in The Spa’s landscape, its upper floor takes in delightful views of the surrounding English parkland. This sense of the natural environment continues through to the interior design, with every area of the spa flooded with natural light, crisp contemporary architecture, art and sculptures throughout. Here you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the inviting indoor pool, work out in the gym or indulge in a relaxing treatment like an aromatherapy massage. Having worked up an appetite, you do not need to go far to enjoy a healthy bite to eat at The Spatisserie and maybe a chilled glass of champagne should you be in the mood for such indulgence.
At Coworth Park you are more than likely to reminisce about how lives were lived in such a grand house, a handsome Georgian building dating back to 1776. Throughout the 1800’s the estate has passed through the hands of a number of owners. It is perhaps best known as the home of the 17th Earl of Lord Derby who bought it in 1899 and lived there for almost 50 years until his death in 1948. His love of racing led to three winners of the Derby, named after the 12th Earl, and six of the St Leger. However, an association with equestrianism began even before he bought the estate; the Prince and Princess of Wales, the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra stayed there in 1879 and 1883 to enjoy the racing at nearby Ascot.
After Lady Derby’s death in 1957, the house was converted first into a convent school and later into offices. In the mid 1980’s Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason founder, Galen Weston took over ownership and developed its first polo field. In 2001 it was taken over by Dorchester Collection who have painstakingly recreated the Georgian Manor House and picturesque grounds to create a truly stunning country house hotel and spa. On departure, we say goodbye to those who welcomed us two days earlier, but that greeting holds a promise to return, it is more ‘au revoir’ than anything else. There is far too much to appreciate in the essence of Coworth Park not to come again soon; not only in material terms, but more importantly in the gentle service of those who provide it, with good grace and cheerful charm.