A WEEKEND in the country is often not so much a change of pace as stepping back into another era, where duvets are a dirty word and the closest you get to modern technology is a Teasmade. Not so at Park House, a luxury rural retreat in West Sussex. There might be rows of Hunter wellies at the door, but this is a very modern take on the country house hotel.
It’s a traditional farmhouse that’s been rebuilt and modernised over the last few years. Aside from the main house there are a number of cottages, each looking out over the hotel’s grounds (including croquetlawn, terrace and greenhouses). The decor differs throughout, from traditional furniture and heavy floral patterns to the light wood and bold designs of Swedish home living. Each room bursts with high tech gadgetry; there are wall-mounted iMacs offering a bespoke television service and free wifi throughout the hotel. It might sound like an Apple Store as decorated by Laura Ashley but it works. Those keen to make the most of the country air have plenty of activities to choose from: shooting trips, walks on the South Downs or playing six holes on the hotel’s par 3 golf course. The real attractions are indoors though, with the hotel’s just-opened luxury spa. Aside from a fitness centre, swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, there’s a range of treatments available, both for those staying at the hotel and people just looking for an afternoon of pampering. It’s a small place (though I think they prefer “boutique” but there are some intriguing options from exfoliation using Tahitian black sand to a bubbling mud massage.
All that good work can be undone at dinner. A three-course affair, it’s exactly the sort of menu you might expect (old-fashioned fare with big flavours and bigger portions). It’s all lovingly done though, with an emphasis on the food being fresh, seasonal and local; some of the herbs and vegetables are grown onsite.
Indeed it’s that attention to detail found throughout the hotel that make it such a joy to stay in and there’s thoughtful touches everywhere you look. There are a number of honesty bars so you can enjoy a nightcap when you want without having to resort to the minibar and living rooms to elegantly waste an afternoon in. Whatever you need to relax, from a herbal tea to a trashy magazine is available. You can even bring your pets. It’s a place of contradictions – old but modern, cosy yet cutting edge, professional and personal – and seems as suited to a romantic weekend away as it is to a major celebration. A rare find. From £135 per night. www.parkhousehotel.com