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Hungerford man’s seven-year mission to restore the glory of country hotel, Elcot Park



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As you head up the main drive you can see a group of guests doing Pilates outside, where a well-kept croquet lawn has views out as far as Coombe Gibbet.

This resurrection of the 18th-century Elcot Park and its grounds, once created by Capability Brown, is the vision of a Hungerford man and a seven-year personal quest.

Hector Ross, managing partner of The Signet Collection which also owns The Mitre Hotel in Hampton Court, first saw the building when he took his young son for swimming lessons in the hotel’s pool many years ago.

The Retreat at Elcot Park by Tom Greenly
The Retreat at Elcot Park by Tom Greenly

He says he knew that day that he wanted to buy the hotel and transform it into something spectacular.

It may have taken him seven years, but he has certainly achieved his aims.

The Retreat at Elcot Park, which sits on the A4 between Newbury and Hungerford, is “a new chapter in an age old story”.

“I adore old buildings that have fallen out of the limelight and I bring them back to life,” said Mr Ross, who bought the Georgian property in 2020 and spent a year restoring it to its former glory.

“It took seven years to buy it. It was a labour of love and a huge leap of faith.”

A newly-built orangery and an all-day brasserie – called 1772 after the year the house was built – serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

The 1772 restaurant by Astrid Templier
The 1772 restaurant by Astrid Templier

Board games are left on the tables in the Atlas Room, the hotel’s main bar area, and large bottles of Bollinger and locally produced All Angels rose are scattered about.

There is also a second restaurant, Yu, and surprisingly for a country manor hotel it serves Pan-Asian food.

Mr Ross’ family were the inspiration for this idea too, after he went on a search for sushi for his wife during lockdown. Both are open to the public.

There’s even a window on the restaurant so diners can see how their food is prepared.

The company’s culinary director has worked with some of the top chef’s in the country and the menu offers a host of seasonal and locally sourced dishes.

The spa, which is available to guests and members, boosts a vitality pool, steam room, sauna, gym, treatment rooms, heated outdoor pool and the only salt floatation tank in the area.

“I adore old building that have fallen out of the limelight and I bring them back to life,” Hector said, who bought the Georgian property in 2020 and spent a year restoring it to its former glory. “It took seven years to buy it. It was a labour of love and it was a huge leap of faith.”

The travel-inspired Atlas Room at The Retreat at Elcot Park, photographed by Astrid Templier
The travel-inspired Atlas Room at The Retreat at Elcot Park, photographed by Astrid Templier

Mr Ross, who owned the Bel & The Dragon chain until he sold it in 2017, said his ethos is to buy local and employ local, taking people “on a journey” through their career.

He would never call the 70 employees staff – they are all part of a team or a pride. Lions have a prominent place within the business too – children’s toilets are labelled ‘cubs’, a lion adorns the menus, and after a year of service all staff are treated to tickets to the see The Lion King.

Everyone wears comfy trainers and are given their own birthday and the birthday of their youngest child off work each year.

One of the suites in The Retreat at Elcot Park - picture by Astrid Templier
One of the suites in The Retreat at Elcot Park - picture by Astrid Templier

A whiskey library – showcasing 43 different whiskies including spirits from Berry Bros & Rudd, of Basingstoke – for finishing off the evening or for meetings is another hidden gem, tucked away just to the side of the reception.

A second, larger meeting room is given a rather majestic feel by its rich, hand-painted wallpaper and a large, ornate mirror unearthed behind a plasterboard wall.

Scattered around the hotel are little touches that change on a Hector whim – a tennis painting ahead of Wimbledon here, a copy of a 1953 Queen’s coronation menu there.

A courtyard offers outside seating alongside a store, serving coffee, cakes and gifts; a nail bar and hair salon, and a wine cellar.

The Courtyard at Elcot Park by Tom Greenly
The Courtyard at Elcot Park by Tom Greenly

Nine, two-bed apartments are currently under construction in the 16-acre grounds, which are also home to a children’s play area, tennis court and walled garden.

“I love it,” Mr Ross added. “We want to go to bed thinking we made today better than yesterday.”



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