Arriving on a cold wet weekend before Easter at Park House Hotel in West Sussex, we were greeted with enthusiasm and shown to our well-appointed room in one of the additional cottages to the main, late Victorian house. Park House Hotel was extremely comfortable: the bedroom was large and airy with pretty furnishings and curtains; a miniature sitting room had French doors out to a private seating area with views across the garden, which would have been heavenly if the weather had been up to anything. The bathroom had Aromatherapy Associates toiletries and a fine large bath, a rainforest shower and lots of handy heated towel rails. The robes were huge and fluffy and the wardrobe contained a useful iron and board, while a suite of Apple products are a sensible way to provide entertainment.
The conservatory is a great place for tea, with pretty views out to the gardens – a group of friends had ordered full afternoon tea at the end of the day with a glass of champagne which looked terrific. Adjacent to here is the honesty bar where guests help themselves: a perky pink lemonade went very well with gin and a sprig of mint – an on-the-spot concoction which the barman was happy to make on request when he came on duty in the evening.
PH2O is the purpose-built spa, which has Anne Semonin and Aromatherapy Associates products. Situated just next to the main house, it was certainly worth an extended visit. The indoor swimming pool and hot tub are in a social space with plenty of room for guests to relax with drinks; swimming-wise both those who like to do proper laps and families are catered for and there are specific swimming hours for children. The steam room and sauna in the female changing rooms were just the right temperature and the head massage I had was blissful. The outdoor pool and terrace would make a very fine place to relax outdoors in the summer.
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At supper the food was competent and the service friendly – the menu was not cringingly ambitious, but neither was it exceptional. A starter of scotch egg with black pudding salad was a nice idea but a huge portion, a main course of sea bream was enjoyable, but not exciting. A steak ordered rare certainly wasn’t, but then rare in the country is rarely as rare as it should be. Pudding was a lovely little lemon meringue pie which we opted to have in the drawing room, an attractive space with a disadvantage that the business of the main office, just across the hall, insinuates itself into the atmosphere. As phones ring and computers click away the illusion of a country house drawing room is somewhat shattered.
This happened again in the morning as we were waiting for a taxi – applications for where might be a good walk didn’t return anything we felt confident attempting so we decided to head for the train. Sitting reading in the drawing room awaiting our taxi, the daily comings and goings of the office were noticeable as the staff vacuumed the floors around us. Perhaps they’re used to most Sunday guests disappearing immediately after they’ve checked out, but most hotels keep their engine rooms away from guests’ eyes for good reason.
Park House Hotel is an extremely comfortable place to stay. The spa is worth traveling to and the rooms are skillfully and tastefully put together, although really the stresses of the office shouldn’t impinge on others trying to revel in being away from their own responsibilities for a few days.
Park House Hotel, Bepton, Midhurst, 01730 819000; www.parkhousehotel.com.