WHAT’S IT LIKE? This family-owned converted farmhouse makes a perfect hideaway for the end of a hectic week at work or a busy trip abroad, if you’re returning through Gatwick airport. It sits on a quiet country road with fields on both sides, so there are plenty of footpaths to explore if you fancy a good walk (Wellington boots can be borrowed from reception), and there is a pleasant pub called the Country Inn on Severais Road (about 20 minutes’ stroll away), which is a perfect for a pint outside in the afternoon sun. The hotel itself offers a haven for relaxation, with a golf course, on-site restaurant, a new spa and charming staff.
WHERE IS IT? Near Bepton village in West Sussex. Although it is preferable to drive to the property, you can also access it from Haslemere station, 50 minutes from London Waterloo East, and then get a taxi, which will cost around £30. Gatwick airport is about 60km away.
ROOM FACILITIES The bedrooms in the main house and the Polo cottage are typical of an English country house hotel with pastel colours and floral upholstery, while the six new ones in the South Down cottage next door and the Baytree look more modern, although chintzy bedspread and curtains ensure some continuity. All rooms feature tea and coffee-making facilities, a safe, robes, hairdryer, an iron/ironing board, and 24-hour room service for snacks and drinks.
Surprising for such a traditional property was its technology offering – Apple Mac monitors for satellite TV, CDs, DVDs, radio and internet are installed in all bedrooms, although when I stayed they had only just been put in so there were some teething problems. There aren’t any iPod docks but when I requested one the hotel was happy to provide one immediately. Wireless internet access is also free.
My bedroom in the South Down cottage was of a modest size but had a sofa at one end and a balcony with views over the lawn and trees. The immaculate bathroom had a walk-in shower and separate tub, although I found that the narrow mirror over the sink was set back too far, which means putting on make-up (or shaving if you’re a chap) could be a little difficult. However, there was one in the bedroom too.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The main house has a restaurant on the ground floor that is divided between two rooms –one has a warmer, more homely atmosphere, while the other is in an outer conservatory space facing the gardens. Along with breakfast, which is both buffet and à la carte, lunch and dinner are served. I ate here two nights in both sections of the establishment. Personally, I preferred the inner room, as it felt more intimate.
Menus change seasonally and many of the ingredients are sourced locally. The waiting staff made a real effort to make me feel welcome and the food, on the whole, was very good, with attractive presentation more commonly associated with eateries in the city. The cuisine is British/international, with options including the likes of poached seabass and roasted vegetable tart.
There is also a peaceful living room with sofas and magazines, and an honesty bar (they simply need to write down what they have had in the book) at the back, where guests can mix themselves a gin and tonic or enjoy an after-dinner whisky.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILTIES For those who want to host an event, there is a 100 sqm renovated barn, which can seat 60 delegates for lunch and has a serviced bar and mezzanine level with snooker table. There is also a boardroom (for 12 people) featuring video-conferencing facilities, wifi, a projector and screen, wall-mounted monitor and stationery.
LEISURE FACILTIES When the weather is fine it’s best to be outside – and leisure options include a six-hole, par-three golf course, two grass tennis courts, a croquet and bowls lawn and heated outdoor pool. The best thing, though, is to head out into the countryside and explore the footpaths that take you miles out into the fields – ask at reception for a map so you don’t get lost.
Another highlight is the sophisticated new spa, PH2O, which has a 15-metre indoor pool, spa bath, steam room and sauna, gym, several treatment rooms offering soothing treatments using Anne Semonin and Aromatherapy products, and friendly, professional therapists. The spa is open 7am-10pm daily, with massages on offer between 10am and 6pm (7pm Friday and Saturday). I had a 90-minute L’Experience facial (£105) that really helped me unwind.
VERDICT Park House offers a real escape from life in the city, with a good blend of personal service in a homely environment, luxurious spa facilities, and fresh country air.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 21 en suite bedrooms including 12 in the main house, plus six in the South Down cottage, two in the more traditional Polo cottage and one in the luxurious Baytree cottage.
- ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The countryside views, the Apple Mac entertainments systems with built-in DVD player, free wifi, and the cosy atmosphere.
- PRICE Internet rates for a two-night weekend stay for two people in March started from £280 for a Small Standard room including breakfast.
- CONTACT Park House, Bepton, Midhurst, West Sussex; tel +44(0)1730 819 000; parkhousehotel.com