Weekend Away: Coworth Park at Christmas

Christmas in a country hotel sounds like the premise of a Paul feig film waiting to happen – but at Coworth Park, the magic doesn’t disappear even when December is over

Every Christmas Eve, Santa visits Coworth Park. If you listen hard enough, you might even hear the hooves of his reindeer on the mansion’s rooftop. Or perhaps it’s the horses in the stables – after all, this is the only hotel in the UK with its own polo fields and an equestrian centre used by Guards Polo Club (it’s also one of regular player Prince Harry’s favourite hangouts – he spent the night before his wedding here). If you’re more excited about the prospect of taking the reins than listening for reindeer, add one of Coworth Park’s exclusive polo packages to your Christmas list this year. They’re run by professionals who have played for teams such as Argentina and the UK, and fully immerse guests in the sport with practical lessons and insider tricks.

While there’s more to Coworth than country pursuits, interior designer Martin Hulbert honoured the hotel’s heritage with whimsical details. The main house has 30 grand bedrooms (with a further 40 in the converted stables), designed to make the most of the Georgian proportions with bespoke furniture, floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains and equine motifs – bed sheets embroidered with stirrups and wildflowers from the meadow stitched into the linen. Downstairs in The Bar, visual artist Julian Wolkenstein’s artwork playfully depicts horses with their manes styled like human hair on one wall; another displays antique riding tack.

As well as The Bar, there are three restaurants to choose from. Look out for the ornate gold oakleaf fixture overhead at Restaurant Coworth Park, where chef Adam Smith heads up an award-winning kitchen (Michel Roux Snr once called Smith ‘one to watch’); head to The Barn, a locavore rustic brasserie; and relax at The Spatisserie, a low-key, light-filled space. The hotel also offers afternoon tea in the Drawing Room (where a musician in eveningwear plucks the strings of a harp as you nibble), 24-hour room service, and nannies on hand that can be booked up to three days in advance – so you can take your Michelin-starred meals at your convenience. Extras like this make Coworth Park a favourite among families, but children are only allowed in the restaurant and swimming pool during certain times, so other guests aren’t disturbed – a gamechanger for couples and those hoping to escape the noise and pressure of life outside the 240-acre grounds.

The swimming pool is something special, too. Set into the spa, an architectural feat with a fragrant herb garden rooftop, the 18m pool plays music underwater and is lined with amethyst geodes, semi-precious stones often used for their stress-relieving properties. It is said that the water absorbs positive energy from the crystals. And speaking of energy, Coworth Park has a carbon neutral fuel supply: the hotel was one of the first in the UK to harness solar glazing and a willow-burning biomass boiler using trees grown on the estate.

As for respite, book in for a soothing aromatherapy treatment in the spa, pop a ‘Counting Sheep: Please Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door and you’ll sleep straight through a visit from Santa’s sleigh.

From £455 for a room based on two people sharing in December, including breakfast, dorchestercollection.com