Horsing Around at Coworth Park, a New Dorchester Hotel in Ascot

by  Liz Ozaist | Sep 13, 2011
Coworth Park
Coworth Park / Photo courtesy of the property

Horseplay isn’t a term typically associated with the Dorchester group of hotels, whose dignified representatives include Le Meurice in Paris and Milan’s Hotel Principe di Savoia. Yet the newest retreat to enter the fold, Coworth Park, is equal parts elegant and refreshingly irreverent.

Located in Ascot – just 20 minutes by car from Heathrow Airport – the former country house has been transformed into a 70-room hotel with a note of equestrian whimsy in nearly every nook and cranny. British interior designer Martin Hulbert was tasked with the project – and what an undertaking it was. “When I pulled up the carpeting, the floor fell through, and the staircase was barely hanging – on an angle,” he says, recounting the early days of the renovation. “I actually thought it was fantastic because I could put the place back together again the way I liked it.”

Coworth Park copper tub / Liz Ozaist

Hulbert’s vision is certainly eye-catching: Guest rooms feature gorgeous copper soaker tubs (with waterproof copies of The Book Of Idle Pleasures) set against wall-sized photos of blooms growing in the designer’s own garden, luxe sheets embroidered with playful ropes and horseshoes, and one-of-a-kind artworks by friends of the designer. For an extra treat, book one of the 40 rooms housed in the estate’s former horse stables – each is named after a Derby winner.

Coworth Park has a few other special features, including a newly built spa with a living roof that cultivates the herbs used in the treatments, and three restaurants helmed by Michelin-starred chef John Campbell. Known for his unconventional approach in the kitchen, he’s dreamt up his own line of in-house beers and an interactive canapé menu assembled tableside. His latest invention: “Campbell’s soup,” the equivalent of a sip of creamy tomato soup packaged inside a crouton.

Of course, for all this talk of horses, there should be some, well, horses – or in the case of Coworth Park, an equestrian center and a full polo spread, making it the only hotel in the U.K. with its own polo fields. To unwind post lesson, head for the cozy bar just off the lobby. It’s the room decorated with sultry photos of horses glamming it up for the camera pinup-style.

Rates start at $375 per night, including a full English breakfast. The property also has a new Town & Country package (from $1,400, with breakfast and one transfer between hotels) that includes one night at Coworth Park and another at the brand’s legendary digs in London, The Dorchester.

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