oworth Park is a gorgeous Georgian mansion standing amid 240 acres of grounds on which polo ponies graze. And, while this giant white wedding cake of a building is the most distinctive on the estate, its rooms and suites are not the only accommodation on offer here. You may be more at home in the Stables, an enclave of rooms with a village-like atmosphere. Or there's the Dower House, a listed building constructed in 1775 and available for exclusive use. At the moment, however, all talk at Coworth is of the North Lodge.
This black-and-white, wood-beamed, Tudor-style gatehouse boasts its own private driveway, three spacious bedrooms, a lobby, dining room and kitchen. The interior sets out to 'avoid country house clichés', and sure enough, is homely and surprisingly understated for a hotel of this cachet (although the wood-burning stove and meadow views are rather lovely). Set on the outskirts of the estate, the level of privacy at the North Lodge gives the illusion of having your own bucolic bolthole, but with the added benefit of being able to summon a Michelin-standard chef from the 'big house' to come and cook on site.
On a recent visit to Coworth, I was not staying in the Lodge. However, it would be utterly incorrect to say I drew the short straw with my suite allocation. The Mansion House Executive Suite is an eminently tasteful space in a neutral palette and dark woods accented by glass and silver – an effective design choice that steers well clear of anything too fusty or heavy-handed. A copper bath stands alone in the cavernous bathroom and the four-poster bed is wider than it is long.
Despite only being 30 miles from central London, less patient patrons may choose to arrive at Coworth Park via helicopter. My own aerial entry was foiled by an obstinately overcast sky, necessitating a last-minute Uber XL. This did, however, give the hotel a chance to showcase what it does best: service. The staff, instinctively aware that we'd pushed back lunch, had us whisked away by buggy to The Barn, a rustic-chic brasserie and one of Coworth’s three restaurants, within moments of arrival.
Appetites sated, it was on to The Spa at Coworth Park. Located a short walk from the main house, it is also perfectly de rigueur to take a 30-second buggy ride clad in a robe and slippers.
The Spa is housed in a crescent-shaped, semi-sunken building covered with a grass roof. Inside, it is decorated with natural materials, flooded with natural light, and offers stunning parkland views, which somehow felt extra-soothing in the mid-October drizzle. The full-service menu features treatments by Aromatherapy Associates and Valmont, but I opted for a massage using products from ishga, a Hebridean skincare brand making products with organic Scottish seaweed. Apparently, this has been used for its natural antioxidant and therapeutic properties for centuries.
By evening, the clouds had cleared enough for a purple sunset, warmed by the orange glow of torches from the Mansion House terrace (an ideal spot for apéritifs). The sound of live piano and singing drifted through from the Drawing Room, and it all felt rather cinematic.
As the light died, we piled into Restaurant Coworth Park for dinner: a six-course tasting menu prepared by executive chef Adam Smith. First up: trout with marmalade, smoked roe and radish – the blushing shades were almost too pretty to eat. Next was hen of the woods mushroom with preserved pumpkin, chestnuts and truffle (my favourite course – it was autumn embodied). Hand-dived scallop with calamansi, spinach and taramasalata was followed by melt-in-the-mouth Highland wagyu with potato, parsley and kohlrabi, and then it was dessert: Coworth Park signature chocolate with hazelnut praline, salted caramel and almond ice cream.
If you’re after the country house experience, Coworth Park is nonpareil. It is undoubtedly quieter and slower than its Park Lane cousin, but don't expect standards to slip just because you've stepped out of the capital.
North Lodge at Coworth Park is available to book for up to six guests, with rates starting from £3,500 inc VAT per night, minimum three-night stay, dorchestercollection.com