If you’ve ever had a fantasy about the gracious and chic English country lifestyle, look no further than the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park Hotel. This is, all at once, traditional, contemporary, refined and sleek. I arrived via train from London into Sunningdale, a straight shot into a totally charming little country town. Then a 5-minute drive to Coworth Park. Pretty civilized, really. Then we rolled up to Coworth Park, where even the logo on the sign out front is modern and elegant. Driving up to the Manor House, past the polo fields, and then a field of wildflowers, was fairly stupendous. We passed the very modern yet somehow organic-looking structure that is the spa and then to the front of what appears to be a private home, surrounded with manicured paths and drives, where you are greeted by men wearing the most subtle of brown plaid wool suits, with vests, further setting the tone that to the manor, if not born, you have arrived.
I had the great good fortune to spend two delicious evenings at Coworth Park, and my only complaint was that it put a significant damper on the rest of my trip – it was THAT good! This is an elegant hotel where attention to detail and good taste (without being over the top or intimidating) is the order of the day. Immediately, the aesthetic grabs you, evidenced by the enormous metal sculpture of a tree that stands front and center in the lobby, indicative of the emphasis on bringing nature in. And yet the foyer of the Manor House feels like a home – like YOUR home. Your really nice home. It is light wood and airy, with a magnificent grand stairway that ascends like a nautilus shell, curving and curling elegantly to the three floors above.
I stayed in room 33, on the top floor of the Manor House, with the feel of an expansive attic – sloping walls, incredibly spacious and well appointed. I felt as if I got the very best room in the place. And if God is in the details, this is a very religious space. My room had interior shutters lined with the exact same fabric as the gorgeous walls – a creamy gold pattern that created a contemporary and light feel. This is not your grandmother’s country estate! This is modern yet understated. More details – the four poster bed, sitting area, all deeply rich textures but light and bright at the same time. Espresso maker. A mark of a good hotel is, at least for me, abundantly clear when I want to steal everything in the room. Each and every detail and accent – from the soft leather folios with hotel information to the soap dish to the pots of herbs in the bathroom – intoxicated me. Very well thought through. And then there’s the bathroom with its copper freestanding tub. Beautiful basins and stone work. Mirrors everywhere reflecting the soft lighting and giving a modern and airy feel to the space.
If you are lucky enough to have one of the rooms in the “stables”, you will feel you are in your own Mansfield Park setting, pastoral and perfectly appointed. Country charm with modern finishes. These are situated just to the left of the Mansion, like a modern village, right on a stream with a little bridge. There is a separate dining area here, as well, with farm table type decor and food, situated in an old barn that again, has been designed to embrace both modern, clean lines and a traditional feel. The view? Well, the picturesque stream with its little bridge and polo fields beyond.
One thing that Coworth Park is absolutely known for is polo. And if you are able, book a lesson. It is a hoot – sort of like croquet on a horse – made even more fun by the divine looking young polo instructors – both men and women – who patiently work with you to learn the basic swinging techniques before putting you on a horse. No need to have the right gear – they’ll supply you with everything you need, hats, mallets and very chic short riding boots. I also recommend a trip to the stunning spa where the facilities are fairly mind-blowing.
The hotel common rooms – like being in your own living room – are warm and inviting. And the grounds are to die for. I live in a city. To have the opportunity to go out for an early run and be able to experience the sights, sounds and phenomenal beauty of the English countryside, to be greeted by horses when you round a bend, to run along the perimeters of an expanse of green that is the size of two polo fields – well – life is pretty good at Coworth Park, I’d say.
Have to also mention the staff, who truly went above and beyond, from helping me with my internet connection at 11:30 at night (merci Nicholas) to the front desk staff who were supremely patient when I lost my key after only 5 minutes (Thank you Alice) (FYI – key is housed in a discreet and fabulous little orange box – that is my excuse), to the wait staff who handled our little group of demanding Americans with such professionalism, courtesy and…fun. They made our dinner at the hotel – which was quite possibly my best meal of the trip – all the more unforgettable.
Last thing to consider, and this was a big plus for us…Coworth Park’s close proximity to Heathrow, making it incredibly convenient to build into the end of your London itinerary, providing what I think is the best of both worlds; the action and cool urbane experience of London, and the supremely gracious and pastoral country estate experience. Guaranteed a couple of nights at Coworth Park will put you in such a relaxed and…grateful…frame of mind, even a long plane ride won’t faze you.