Editor Hannah Faulder enjoys an indulgent stay at Prince Harry's pre-wedding country retreat
With Prince Harry and his best man Prince William spending the night before the royal wedding among the Georgian splendour of The Dorchester Collection's Coworth Park, it seemed only right that we should check it out for it's pre- or post-wedding getaway credentials. Don't expect musty country house – this is a slick and modern operation. Total attention to detail teamed with a sea of shiny supercars in the car park and a ballgown-clad harpist playing in the Drawing Room means you may be forgiven for thinking it could be a little snooty but that couldn't be further from the truth. Guests are given the most warm and welcoming reception and the staff can't do enough for you – whether that's whizzing you over to the car park in a golf buggy when you forget your shoes (ahem) or holding an umbrella over you in the torrential rain. The only UK hotel to have its own polo fields, the estate also has an equestrian centre, eco-luxury spa, Michelin-star dining and 240 acres of gardens and parkland to explore. In other words, there was an awful lot to fit into my 24-hour trip.
A place to rest your head
There's nothing better than throwing your bags down in a gorgeous hotel room after a long drive through rush-hour traffic, particularly when your room is as grand and opulent as this mansion house suite. The décor struck the perfect balance between country-chic and contemporary elegance with its cream and gold colour palette and oh-so subtle nods to the hotel's equestrian roots. I did my obligatory jump on the bed to find that it could have easily slept a family of five. The cool marble bathroom housed my style highlight – a super-trendy freestanding copper bathtub; I was in heaven! A huge bay window dominated the room with stunning views across the terrace, gardens and polo fields beyond.
To dine for
It was such a glorious day that I whiled away the afternoon strolling around the grounds, through the manicured fragrant gardens past pretty pools, bronze sculptures and down sun-dappled pathways through woodland. I next retreated to the terrace to bask in the sunshine and enjoy a delicious cocktail and a spot of people-watching. There were a number of loved-up couples here, clearly on a fabulous minimoon break, or perhaps they were planning to tie the knot here? I tore myself away to get ready for dinner and the incredible food I'd heard so much about. I opted for The Barn. Informal, relaxed and housed in an original barn frame, it's brimming with rustic features such as the large stone fireplace. It was a positively balmy evening so I ate outside and took in the magnificent views. I like to think I know what food I enjoy, but I was quite happy to let the knowledgeable waiter turn my head to dishes I might not normally have tried. I'm glad he did because he got it right every time. I ended up with the heritage tomato to start (a choice inspired by Harry and Meghan's big-day menu), followed by the most light and fluffy cheese soufflé I've ever eaten. This was all topped off with a divine salted caramel mousse my mouth is watering thinking about it now! The waiter perfectly paired the wines to enhance the incredible menu of seasonal and local produce and I practically rolled back to my room. I surprised myself when I woke up the next morning ready to eat again. This time I made my way to the Michelin-starred Restaurant at Coworth Park. The gastronomic jewel in Coworth Park's crown, I was bowled over by the elegant room room with its statement burnished oak-leaf chandelier. There's certainly no buffet service here. Trying to be healthy, I ordered the avocado and poached egg on toast but then proceeded to devour the most delicious pastries and breads!
A touch of R&R
The contemporary spa is an architectural wonder, partially submerged into the landscape with a living roof of plants and herbs. Purpose-built for total relaxation, it has eight treatment rooms, a manicure salon, relaxation room and gym. Unfortunately for me, the weather had taken a turn for the worse and the heavens opened on my second day, which meant I couldn't make use of the sun terrace. Instead, I headed to the equally tranquil swimming pool area. The spa manager told me it was the Rolls Royce of pools, with underwater music and the heat set at a constant 2 below room temperature so you never felt chilly after going for a dip. Next, I was treated to the Coworth Park Signature Treatment. This top-to-toe ritual left me feeling totally and utterly relaxed and my skin was glowing perfect for pre-wedding pampering. First, there's a moor mud back treatment to nourish the skin, this is followed by a dreamy head massage while hot stones work their warmth deep into your spine. Next, the Kerstin Florian Prescription Facial was performed. The therapist gave me some excellent tips for getting my skin looking its best and tailored the products to my requirements. To finish, there's a hot stone foot massage I retired to the relaxation room in a zen-like trance! To round off my stay I had a feast of delicious, healthy food for lunch in The Spatisserie. Served tapas style, there was a whole array of different dishes, accompanied by fresh cold-pressed juices and smoothies. A golf buggy was waiting outside for me, ready to whisk me back to my car and to leave this idyllic Berkshire setting.
To book your stay, head to www.dorchestercollection.com/ascot/coworth-park
or call 01344 876 600.