Hotel Review: Coworth Park, Ascot
About a 45-minute drive from London (or 20 minutes if you plan to land at the hotel heliport), Coworth Park sits in 240 exquisite acres of rolling fields and wildflower meadows against a backdrop of trees. Gorgeous and wood-pocketed – towering fir trees and dense thickets of striking silver birch trees adjoin the chic country house.
It’s the only hotel in the UK that can lay claim to its own polo ground – William and Harry played here and the connection to all things equine is evident both in the grounds, with horses and ponies dotted around the landscape, and inside the hotel itself, adorning the walls and appearing on the cocktail menu.
Part of the Dorchester Collection, the hotel is also home to the Michelin-starred Coworth Park restaurant, ably run by former Ritz alum, Adam Smith. If staying at the hotel is not planned, a visit for a dinner of this caliber is well worth the trip.
Why come here?
The mansion, built in 1776, has 30 generously sized bedrooms, all with lovely views over the woods to the rear or across the meadow and the tree-lined path that leads to the polo grounds from the before.
Horses are an integral part of the building’s composition, with frequent reference to them in art, design, and nomenclature. Although grand, the hotel is modern and comfortable; muted shades of wheat, caramel, sage and pistachio form the color palette, enhanced with golden notes. These natural and subtle colors create a smooth transition from indoors to outdoors.
Rooms are bright and airy, and while they follow the rest of the hotel in terms of design, they all have a different style. ours had a marble-walled bathroom with a deep copper tub on wheels – impossible to resist. A recent upgrade saw the TVs fitted with some brilliant new tech, meaning you can connect any device to it and stream the latest Netflix series straight from your phone.
The stables and cottages house a further 40 bedrooms and the Grade II listed Dower House is a private three bedroom bookable cottage.
Getting around couldn’t be easier – if you don’t fancy a short walk, the hotel team are on hand with golf buggies to drive you around the grounds (even if you just have fancy a visit).
Eat and drink
Breakfast is as special as an evening meal here; the service is impeccable and everything is served at the table – no buffet bar in sight. Lots of love and thought has gone into the offerings – the must-haves are the scrambled eggs, wrapped in a swirl of smoked salmon and topped with a generous mound of caviar.
A short walk/buggy ride from the main house is The Barn; there’s indoor and outdoor seating and an expansive open kitchen serving brasserie-style fare with a few whistles and bells — say, a cheeseburger topped with sticky short ribs or halibut with shellfish cassoulet.
The jewel in the crown is the Michelin-starred Coworth Park restaurant. Under the watchful eye of Adam Smith, it’s a shrewd and well-coordinated operation: the restaurant team floats through the dining room, filling wine glasses and dropping delicious treats. Food and room are not stuffy; they walk that fine line of “just picky enough” to feel truly special.
The cuisine is refined and striking – caviar pie with crab, yuzu and cultured cream has been on the menu in various iterations since Smith’s arrival, he tells us, and it’s a sight to behold, resplendent with jewels shiny black and topped with a whisper of gold leaf. Turbot, one of the most beautiful fish in the sea, is accompanied by stuffed mussels, salted grapes and a wine-yellow sauce served at the table. Highland wagyu, Japanese beef raised in Scotland, is rich and luxurious, topped with truffle rings. The mashed fingerling potatoes on the side (which should be 80% butter) are topped with a nest of meaty, shredded short ribs of the same breed. The signature chocolate dessert made with their own couverture, assembled for them by Valrhona, is truly a must (four courses, £98).
For those looking for something a little less serious, there’s afternoon tea at The Drawing Room. The spa has its own pâtisserie serving lighter bites. The bar’s cocktails are an elegant and smart affair; a Marmalade Mare, for example, is a clever twist on the classic Savoy Corpse Reviver No.2.
What to do
The beautiful crescent spa sits under a living roof of grasses and herbs with treatments designed by some of the world’s top spas. It overlooks the fabulous wildflower meadow which was cut during our winter visit – the flowers are, however, making an appearance, dried and pressed on the restaurant menu.
Given its equine heritage, horseback riding around the stunning estate is a must, but for those happier on dry land, there are miles of walks around; on the other side of the road are huge woods just waiting to get lost.
Coworth Park exists outside of time; it’s relaxing and tranquil – a bit dreamlike. Doing as little as possible here is the order of the day – it’s cozy, squishy and soft and the staff are informal enough to make you feel right at home.
Coworth Park, Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7SE. Rooms from £575 per night excluding breakfast; dorchestercollection.com