We suggest you start dropping heavy hints that you have your eye on Coworth Park in Berkshire for this Valentine’s Day, where riding doesn’t get much more luxurious...
What horsey person doesn’t love breakfast? But you’ll never look at your stack of Marmite toast again after experiencing this feast in a Michelin-starred restaurant, before ambling out to the stable yard. The only snag is having to choose between Bircher muesli with sour apple and honeycomb or smoked salmon on soda bread — though both come with assorted pastries, toast and juices.
2. New experiences in the saddle
It really depends on how horsey you are when it comes to what sort of riding you want to do. You can go for a sedate hack in the 240-acre estate — culminating in a glass of champagne (how often does that happen?) — have a lesson on one of Coworth’s quality schoolmasters, or try out polo, which is run by Guards Polo Club.
3. You want to bring your horse
Well, he’ll be pampered just as much as you. Coworth’s “ultimate horse check-in” entails a full turndown service, “guests’ amenities” — homegrown carrots and horse treats made by our chef — personalised name plate on the stable, bubble shower with lavender wash post exercise, massage, hoof manicure…. Need I go on?
4. Wild flowers
A large area around the hotel and stable yard is planted with acres of wild flowers. The blooms greet you the moment you enter the grounds to give you the sense that you’re deep in the countryside — even if you’re only 30 miles from London. Besides, you can’t help feeling you’re on a photoshoot cantering through it.
5. Tastes to suit
If Michelin dinners aren’t your thing (or budget), there’s the more informal option of eating at the Barn within the grounds, rather than in the hotel itself. The menus there are also overseen by Adam Smith, the 30-year-old Michelin chef. It’s a long way from pub grub — think crab, venison and salted caramel pudding — but you can wear your jeans, laugh raucously and no one will notice.
6. Top-class horses
Horsey people will come here more to be spoiled than to ride, but if you do want to jump on a horse, you’ll find some real quality. There’s a pony who’s jumped at Pony of the Year, top-class working hunters and side-saddle horses, and a former prix st georges dressage campaigner.
Most of them aren’t young, as they have to be safe enough to bolt at the sight of 200 acres of polo fields with a varying standard of rider, but they have class.
Find out more
Rooms: from £318 per night
Horse hotel: £55 per night
Riding: one-hour hack around the estate, Monday to Friday £65; weekends £90; Champagne Celebration Ride £80/£100
Don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (25 January 2018) with our riding holiday special, where one writer heads on an adrenline-fuelled trip to Spain, and another tries her hand at Western riding