24-hour room service: There's no place like (a stately) home

Coworth Park, Berkshire

Last autumn, the series six X Factor girls were flown out to audition in Dubai where Dannii and Kylie Minogue awaited them at Atlantis, The Palm.

Sol Kerzner's £1bn resort provided all the requisite razzmatazz for Dannii's pretend house: flumes, dolphins, an 11 million-litre aquarium, a monorail, palm trees, gold leaf and flowers galore set the backdrop for auditions in front of the mini-Minogues.

So it's quite something that a hotel still in the throes of construction was chosen as Cheryl Cole's "house" this season. Weeks before paying guests were allowed to set foot in Coworth Park, Cheryl was making herself at home in the crystal and velvet-draped Drawing Room.

However, Coworth Park is not without pedigree. The country house is the latest addition to the stable of the Dorchester Collection: Le Meurice, Hotel Plaza Athenée, Hotel Principe di Savoia, Hotel Bel Air, The New York Palace, The Beverly Hills Hotel, and jewel in the crown The Dorchester.

All are owned by the Sultan of Brunei's investment agency, which has lavished an undisclosed sum on transforming the former Coworth Polo Club (frequented by Princes William and Harry) into a luxury hotel. Open barely three months, Coworth styles itself as an equestrian retreat with two polo fields, eight resident horses and ponies and stabling for up to 32 more. The equine motif runs discreetly throughout the hotel, but not so as to deter anyone seeking a straightforward country-house retreat.

The hub of the action is the sparkling white Georgian Mansion House. It is so immaculately renovated that it almost appears newly built – a little disappointing, given its colouful history as home to a prosperous East India merchant, a Sheriff of London and the late Lord Derby.

Happily, the contemporary décor inside is a big success. The look is the antithesis of The Dorchester's heavy swirls of gold, flowers, swags and sashes. Instead Coworth Park is bright, fresh and feminine – dusky pastel colours and smoked oak floors with ambitious flourishes that include a modern central staircase that spirals up to a mirrored ceiling and a bronze tree branching out in the lobby. Here, staff in flat caps and tweed remind foreign visitors that they are in The British Countryside. Having already hosted Cheryl Cole, the Drawing Room was maintaining high standards on my visit: Pierce Brosnan and Sebastian Coe relaxing at either end, while a pianist played loungey renditions of Coldplay and Craig David.

The bright white bar goes for an urban aesthetic, with a candelabra that reads "love" when you gaze up from beneath it, and comical paintings of horses with Dolly Parton-style tresses on the walls. It's a light-hearted prelude to the rather more solemn John Campbell restaurant, which is presumably vying for a Michelin star or two in next year's guide. Here, the former chef of the Vineyard at Stockcross presents a seemingly straightforward menu. I was enticed by the "duck, white bean, peanut, tea" followed by "lobster, squid, coconut, cabbage" finishing with "apple, bay leaf, blackberry". The result was surprisingly complex: consommés, froths, foams, sorbets and julienne formed a delicate but intricate feast.

For a down-to-earth menu, the rustic-chic Barn delivers on comfort food, while I'm sure the Spatisserie would have been a hit with Ms Cole on her visit, with its health-focused menu in the Bond bunker-style grass-roofed spa.


Though it bills its location as Ascot, Coworth Park is a 4km trot west of the racecourse. Its setting is classic leafy Berkshire – country lanes with imposing gates and a smattering of cosy pubs. The hotel's own gates open on to a busy road that separates it from Windsor Great Park – the 7km walk around Virginia Water Lake is the perfect antidote to John Campbell's culinary complexities.

Sunningdale, on the London Waterloo to Reading train line, is a five-minute taxi ride (£7) away.


The 30 rooms in the Mansion House rise through six levels of luxuriance. I played lady of the manor in my Mansion Deluxe room. The cornicing, coving, skirting and sash windows are all brand new but true to the building's history and complemented creamy colours and contemporary country-chic styling.

Rooms are embellished with bespoke furniture, which might be an Alice-in-Wonderland-blue velvet seat at the foot of a bed, or a four-poster that rises into the form of branches.

The attention to detail is remarkable – pillow cases embroidered with horseshoes and stirrups had the corners folded down into "dog ears" (I was reliably informed by the concierge that this was simply Coworth Park "going that extra furlong").

In the bathroom, a glass vial contained a fresh sprig of rosemary, while The Idler's Book of Idle Pleasures positioned on the bath rack made soaking in the copper-clad slipper tub all the more indolent, with its suggestions of doodles, naps and leaf-catching.

Within the 240-acre grounds is a collection of 40-or-so rooms in the former stables and estate cottages. Although these in part also date back to the 18th century, they have also been renovated to appear almost new and are decorated in a simpler style than in the Mansion House.

The crowning glory is the Dower House, a Grade II-listed cottage with a private garden that'll undoubtedly serve as a home-from-home for Bonds and pop princesses alike.

Coworth Park

Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7SE (01344 876600; coworthpark.com).

Rooms *****

Value ****

Service *****

Double rooms start at £279, including breakfast.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform