Coworth Park review: relaxing, tranquil and dreamlike
Doing as little as possible is the order of the day at this swanky country house in Ascot
Around 45 minutes by car from London (or 20 minutes if you’re planning on landing at the hotel’s helipad), Coworth Park sits in 240 exquisite acres of rolling fields and wildflower meadows against a backdrop of stunning trees and pockets of woodland – towering firs and dense thickets of striking silver birch abutt the swanky country house.
It’s the only hotel in the UK that can lay claim to its own polo field – both William and Harry have played here and the bond with all things equine is evident both in the grounds, with horses and ponies dotting the landscape, and inside the hotel itself, gracing the walls and popping up on the cocktail menu.
Part of the Dorchester Collection, the hotel is also home to the Michelin-starred Restaurant Coworth Park, deftly headed up by ex-Ritz alum Adam Smith. If staying in the hotel is not on the cards, a visit for a dinner of this calibre is well worth the trip.
Why come here?
The Mansion House, built in 1776, has 30 generously sized rooms all with beautiful views of the woods to the rear or out across the meadow and tree-lined path that leads to the polo fields from the front.
Horses are very much part of the make-up of the building, with art, design and nomenclature all referencing them frequently. Whilst grandiose, the hotel is modern and comfortable; muted shades of wheat, caramel, sage and pistachio form the colour palette, elevated with hints of gold. These natural, subtle colours create a smooth transition from the interior to the grounds outside.
The rooms are light and airy, and while they follow the rest of the hotel in design, they all have different styling; ours had a marble-walled bathroom equipped with a deep, copper roll-topped bath – impossible to resist. A recent upgrade saw televisions installed with whizzy new tech which means you can connect any device to them and stream the latest Netflix series directly from your phone.
The stables and cottages house a further 40 rooms and the Grade II-listed Dower House is a private, bookable three-bedroom cottage.
Getting around couldn’t be easier – if you don’t fancy a short stroll, the hotel team are on-hand with golf buggies to drive you around the grounds (even if you just fancy a tour).
Eating and drinking
Breakfast is as special as an evening meal here; the service is impeccable and everything is served to the table – not a buffet bar in sight. Much love and thought has gone into the offerings – unmissable are the scrambled eggs, swathed in a swirl of smoked salmon and topped with a generous mound of caviar.
A short stroll/buggy ride from the main house is The Barn; there’s indoor and outdoor seating and a vast open kitchen serving up brasserie-style dishes with a few whistles and bells – for example, a cheeseburger topped with sticky short rib or halibut with shellfish cassoulet.
The jewel in the crown is the Michelin-starred Restaurant Coworth Park. Under the watchful eye of Adam Smith, it’s a slick, well coordinated operation: the restaurant team floats around the dining room, topping up wine glasses and laying down delicious treats. Both the food and the room are un-stuffy; they walk that fine line of “just fussy enough” to feel really special.
The cooking is refined and striking – the caviar tart with crab, yuzu and cultured cream has been on the menu in various iterations since Smith arrived, he tells us, and it is a sight to behold, resplendent with shiny black jewels and topped with a whisper of gold leaf. Turbot, one of the finest fish in the sea, comes with stuffed mussels, salted grapes and a vin-jaune sauce poured table-side. Highland wagyu, Japanese beef reared in Scotland, is rich and luxurious, topped with discs of truffle. Mashed ratte potatoes on the side (which must be 80% butter) are topped with a nest of shredded, meaty short rib from the same breed. The signature chocolate dessert made with their own couverture, blended for them by Valrhona, is truly unmissable (four courses, £98).
For those looking for something a little less serious, there’s afternoon tea to be had in The Drawing Room. The spa has its own Spatisserie serving lighter bites. Cocktails from the bar are a classy, clever affair; a Marmalade Mare, for example, is a smart twist on a Sidecar.
What to do
The stunning crescent spa sits under a living roof of herbs and grasses with treatments designed by some of the top global spas. It looks out onto the fabulous wildflower meadow which was cut back on our wintry visit – the flowers do make an appearance, though, dried and pressed into the restaurant menu.
Given its equine heritage, horse-riding round the wonderful grounds is a must but for those happier on terra-firma, there are miles of walks around; across the road are huge woods just begging to get lost in.
Coworth Park exists out of time; it’s relaxing and tranquil – a little dreamlike. Doing as little as possible here is the order of the day – it’s comfy, squishy and soft and the staff are informal enough to make it feel like a very swish home-from-home.
Coworth Park, Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7SE. Rooms from £575 a night, breakfast not included; dorchestercollection.com