It’s all about the Royals at the moment! First the magnificent Royal Wedding, closely followed by Hollywood royalty strutting their stuff in Cannes, and now it’s time for the fashion extravaganza that is Royal Ascot! There’s no doubt that Royal Ascot is one of the most famous and prestigious events in the sporting calendar where first class horseracing is combined with spectacle, style and tradition. This year, Royal Ascot celebrates its 300th anniversary and it’s a sure bet that fashionistas will be pulling out all the stops to commemorate this momentous occasion – and the odds are pretty good for spotting a royal visitor or two this year too. So, there could be no better time to turn your day at the races into a luxury holiday with a stay at the nearby Coworth Park Hotel.
The Coworth Park has been a glittering success since its opening in 2010 and is now looking forward to hosting its first Ascot season. Situated in the heart of Royal Berkshire’s polo playing country, yet only forty-five minutes from London, and twenty minutes from Heathrow, the hotel makes for the perfect celebrity retreat. The Coworth Park is part of the Dorchester Collection and perfectly complements its big city sister – it’s kooky, capricious and contemporary while at the same time it manages to lovingly uphold the tradition for fine dining, inspired interiors and impeccable service that the Dorchester is so famous for. Its wonderful eco-spa has also been attracting a load of A-listers with its innovative indulgent treatments … but more on that later.
This cool country manor comes complete with its own equestrian centre, and is the only UK hotel to have its own polo field, and an equestrian centre with stabling. Prince Harry is a regular visitor who was most recently seen charming Charlize Theron at the Audi Challenge charity Polo Cup, and when his royal hotness needs to cool down there’s a good chance he’ll be sipping his Pimms at the Coworth.
And Harry is not the only red-hot royal to be spotted here; during their courtship, the Cambridges were also seen strolling hand in hand through the ambling countryside. Blue-bloods abound but they are not the only ones who love this place; as I checked in, Paloma Faith tweeted that she had just checked out of “the best hotel in the world”. Cheryl Cole was here last year to film parts of the X-Factor and the local press recently reported that Jonny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, and family were staying at the five-star manor while Depp was shooting his new film, Dark Shadows, on our shores.
I loved so many things about this hotel that it’s hard to pick favourites, but I’ll have a go. First the Spaaaaaah! This thoroughly modern spa is bathed in light and has lashings of high-end glamour. Sculpted into the lush green landscape with a “living roof” herb garden, this holistic haven has fabulous eco-credentials as well fabulous treatments. The Dr Alkaitis Organic Skinfood Facial left my skin with the glow of new bride and my husband was more than a little bit impressed with the super-stylish indoor pool, which was lined with amethyst sculptures, lit with luminous LEDs, and had underwater music – he was so surprised when he popped up from his first dip that I thought he must have discovered a new life form down there! The Spa also has its own eatery, The Spatisserie, where you can lounge around in enormous duvet-like robes drinking champagne (or tea if you prefer) and tickling your tastebuds with zingy snacks, amid the postcard-pretty English countryside. Bliss.
Post-spa we spent a couple of hours in our Junior Suite to revel in its understated luxury before dinner. Celebrities tend to stay in the jewel in the Coworth’s crown, the Dower House, a Grade 2 listed building that has been lovingly restored to include three bedrooms, a private kitchen, dining and living area. It also has its own gardens, a babbling brook and a family of swans. All the rooms, however, have every amenity you would expect from a classy hotel. Chicly decorated in far-from-boring neutral tones, every accommodation comes with a wonderful woodland-inspired four-poster bed, pop-up Bang and Olufsen TV, sumptuous furnishings and under-floor heating to keep you cosy after a dip in the freestanding copper tub.
An evening at the John Campbell restaurant completed the A-list experience. The delightful dining room honours the hotel’s natural surroundings with elegant leather seating, beautiful floral displays and a simply stunning copper halo of oak leaves and acorns to dine beneath. The vivacious eight-course degustation menu was described as a “journey through the senses” and with everything from pea and ham ice-cream to rabbit ragout and a divine chocolate, lychee and rose dessert on the menu, it certainly lived up to its spirited description. Throw in some fabulous cocktails and outstanding service and it’s fair to say that John Campbell has ruined me for all other restaurants!
The Coworth Park has its very own fashion ambassador, the celebrated milliner Stephen Jones. OBE Jones has created enchanting headwear for the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce, and Dita Von Teese. This collection of four couture hats, however, has been inspired by the celebrity bolthole, and will be available for suite guests to borrow to attend the legendary Ladies’ Day.
Coworth Park: 01344 876600; www.coworthpark.com. Doubles from £282.