The Retreat at Elcot Park, Newbury

A love letter to the British countryside, the gorgeously grand grounds of the Retreat at Elcot Park make for the ultimate city escape.

no such thing as a bad time to escape to the
countryside, especially if it means hunkering down at The Retreat
at Elcot Park. Sitting pretty in a verdant enclave somewhere
between Hungerford and Newbury, this storied abode has been
purposefully reimagined by hotelier Hector Ross – co-founder of
visionary British hospitality brand the Signet Collection. As is
the case at the hotel’s sister property in Hampton Court, The
Mitre, original features from the 19th-century house have been
retained, while playful art deco touches and vibrant furnishings
have been injected to create a cosy yet contemporary living

The backstory is worth noting and, in our overly romantic
opinion, living proof that love at first sight is undeniably fact,
not fiction. It was in 2020, while paddling in the pool of the
hotel that previously stood on this site, that Ross found himself
drawn to the environment, dreaming of what the Georgian building
could become. Fast forward to June 2022, and the red ribbon was
officially cut, with Elcot Park being declared open.

The Courtyard at The Retreat Elcot Park
The Retreat at Elcot Park, Lounge

The courtyard, left, and the lounge. | Photo credit: Tom
Greenly & Astrid Templier

Eager to experience the charm for ourselves, we conveniently
book our stay for the hottest day on UK record. On arrival, having
nervously navigated our wheels down the narrowest country lane
we’ve ever seen, we’re welcomed into an airy reception space with a
tray of ice-cold beverages.

Despite the history this place holds, there’s an intensely fresh
and modern feel throughout, perhaps helped by the youthful team
skipping about in skateboard shoes and stonewashed jeans. En route
to your boudoir, you’ll notice lion motifs here and there: curious,
we are quickly informed that they are a loving touch designed to
please Hector’s son, Hamish, who is apparently a huge fan of the

Double Room at The Retreat Elcot Park
Sutton Suite, The Retreat at Elcot Park

A double room, left, and a suite bathtub. | Photo Credit:
Tom Greenly & Astrid Templier


All 55 bedrooms and suites have been brought to life by the
talented design team at Taylor & Turner. Velvet headboards,
vintage wallpapers, beaded mirrors and bedside tables stocked with
a collection of titles from legendary authors make for a snug yet
stylish set-up. It’s no secret that the finer details allow a hotel
to become a home-from-home, and this place is the perfect example
of just that. A plush armchair, cushion-lined window ledge and
high-spec coffee machine make it a challenge to leave your
quarters, but we strongly suggest you do so in order to pay the
much-loved (read: complimentary) pantry a visit. Forget the
mini-fridge; we’re talking sodas, chocolate-chip cookies, crisps,
popcorn and fresh fruit. Meet you there for a midnight feast.

The blush-pink-painted bathrooms are just as delightful as they
sound. Kitted out with a bathtub so inviting that it virtually
demands you pour the bubbles, and a shower stocked with the hotel’s
own range of organic toiletries (which are available to purchase
should you wish to take a slice of heaven home with you), there is
no better place to unwind come sunset.

The Orangery, Elcot Park
1772 Bistro, The Retreat at Elcot Park

The orangery, left, and 1772 Brassiere. |Photo Credit: Tom
Greenly & Astrid Templier

What’s for breakfast?

An à la carte menu offers all the essentials, including a hearty
English breakfast, eggs on toasted sourdough and warming porridge.
For a lighter start to the day, swing by the bar, which
conveniently transforms into a banquet-style table piled high with
fresh fruit, flaky pastries, oats and all sorts of seeds. Thirsty?
Snag a freshly pressed juice from one of the handy dispensers.
There’s also an impressive list of herbal teas, which, truth be
told, are worth ordering to admire the beautiful crockery

How about lunch and dinner?

There are two restaurants: 1772 Brassiere and Yu. The
light-filled 1772 dining space takes centre stage, decked out with
braided pendant lights, wishbone chairs and walls painted in a soft
shade of green. It incorporates the new Orangery, whose
floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor terrace promise uninterrupted
views across the rural surrounds. Starters cover everything from
scallops to steak tartare and artichoke houmous, while the mains
feature a glazed duck breast and garlic gnocchi. Sweet tooth? The
pudding menu is not one to miss. Grab a plate of the dark chocolate
crunchie – you can thank us later.

Yu, with its pan-Asian menu, has an entirely different vibe.
Interiors are grittier, with burnt-orange walls, mustard banquette
seating and block-printed artworks. Sushi and noodle dishes are so
scrumptious that we wouldn’t judge you for requesting the

Is there a bar?

Yes, it’s part of 1772. Featuring a navy leather-panelled bar
draped with hanging glasses and leather bar-facing stools, it makes
for a great night date-night spot.


Fitness bunnies will feel right at home. A state-of-the-art spa
flaunts a spin studio, a small-but-well-equipped gym, treatment
rooms, hydrotherapy pools, sauna and steam rooms, as well as an
outdoor heated pool. Head for the on-site tennis courts, should you
wish to practise your serve.

The courtyard deserves its own paragraph. Bare-brick walls,
pebbled stone underfoot and pin-striped parasols act as a backdrop
to a wine store, coffee shop, bakery and hair salon. We wouldn’t be
surprised if the hotel reached village status.

How about their green credentials?

There’s no obvious sign of a green manifesto, but we certainly
didn’t spot any single-use plastics, and restaurant menus are
seasonal and locally sourced.

What about accessibility?

There are five specially converted rooms suitable for those with
mobility issues.

What’s the crowd like?

We wouldn’t have blinked twice if royalty pulled up a chair and
joined us for a bite to eat. Seriously, thanks to the property’s
size, you could easily avoid crossing paths with another guest for
the majority of your stay. Kids and dogs are welcome.

Things I should know

A monthly farmers’ market takes place in the hotel’s courtyard.
Flit between stalls stocking artisan breads, meats, smoked fish,
jams and cheeses, but be warned: you’ll want to bring a tote bag to
stuff with your haul.

Within a short walk I can find…

Not a lot, but that’s the purpose (and beauty) of a countryside
retreat, right? Properly recharge with a stomp through the
surrounding woodland while chugging in lungfuls of crisp country
air. Hungry for a hike? Ask the team for the best route: countless
chalk trails stretch to the North Wessex Downs and beyond.

The Lowdown

Doubles cost from £180 a night.