Review by Fiona Duncan, published 4th November 2010.
Now here’s what I call a bargain. Stay in a double room at the Goodwood Hotel from £99 per night, including (a very good) breakfast, and everything that this hugely impressive sporting estate has to offer is at hand and can be organised for you by the hotel, with a final bill that is, I think, a steal.
Famed for Glorious, Revival and now Vintage Goodwood, the estate’s key elements (motor racing, horse racing, flying, golf, health club) each have their own private membership and hotel guests effectively become members for the duration of their stay.
Thus, the superb Waterbeach health club and spa, including huge gym, glamorous indoor swimming pool, and airy bar and grill, is yours. So is The Kennels, a sophisticated, beautifully decorated private members’ club where the Dukes of Richmond’s fox hounds used to be housed, with show-stopping views across green fields to Goodwood House; likewise the membership-only Downs golf course, considered the best downland course in the country, with its divine retro buggies, recently introduced by Lord March, with chintz seat covers and wicker baskets that double as ice boxes for those bottles of champagne.
But there’s more to see and do: the pay-and-play Park golf course; Goodwood House with its Stubbs and Canalettos; a strange Sculpture Park lost in the woods; a superbly stocked farm shop, including the estate’s own meat.
Plus, of course, 23 days of racing a year at the prettiest of racecourses, perched on its ridge; the famous motor racing circuit, where you can go karting or take a spin around the track; and finally the historic ex-RAF wartime aerodrome where, for a little over £100, two people can take a half-hour flight in a Cessna. I can vouch for that one: it was a thrill.
All these extras came as a revelation.
I had wanted to review the Goodwood Hotel purely because I’d heard it had recently ceased to be a Marriott hotel and is now run by the estate, with a programme of refurbishment under way.
Public rooms and restaurant are already in good, stylish order; five of the 93 bedrooms, some of which are in anodyne Seventies annexes, have also been redesigned and are classy, luxurious and full of personal touches such as model planes and cars and Edwardian family photographs.
The rest of the serviceable, if dreary bedrooms are to be revamped in waves.
The food in the hotel was inventive, as was lunch in The Kennels the following day.
The one glaring mistake of this otherwise excellent, if businesslike hotel (50 per cent of its guests are corporate) was that it provided no guest information and therefore no clue of what was on offer on the estate, let alone how to find a television channel or a hairdryer. Decide what you want to do while you’re there, phone the hotel to book a room and the staff will organise the rest. Stay for at least two nights.
- Goodwood, Chichester (01243 775537; www.goodwood.co.uk). Doubles from £99 per night, including breakfast. Specially adapted rooms for guests with disabilities.
It would be crazy to stay at this hotel and not spend your time exploring the Goodwood estate, and all-in price is very kind. A three-night package at a total of £258 for a superior double plus (for two) health club, 18-hole Park golf course, Goodwood House, Sculpture Foundation, Flight Experience, walking trails, farm visit and access to The Kennels makes a total of £435.50, minus food and drink.
Off the estate, try the Fox Goes Free at Charlton. Not only is it a charming place, but here was the site of the Charlton Hunt, so fashionable 300 years ago that the Dukes of Richmond bought a Jacobean farmhouse nearby (Goodwood House) to be close to it. Their sporting estate, including the first ever game of cricket (the club still exists) grew from there.