The Goodwood Hotel is on the Goodwood Estate on the edge of the beautiful South Downs National Park near England’s South coast. Goodwood House was bought by the first Duke of Richmond as a hunting lodge in 1697 and today is home to the Earl of March, heir to the current Duke of Richmond. The Estate includes the famous Goodwood motor circuit which opened in 1948 and hosts the annual Festival of Speed, the Goodwood horse racing track which launched in 1802, an award-winning organic farm, the Cass Sculpture Foundation as well as Goodwood House itself, a Jacobean building which has been extended and added to over three centuries.
I was invited to visit Goodwood Hotel with my family during the February half term break. The hotel has a luxuriously modern English country house atmosphere and the staff that we met were all impeccably friendly and helpful. We stayed from Sunday to Monday in lovely adjoining en-suite rooms on the first floor of the hotel. The children’s room had twin beds and our room a double. The rooms were beautifully decorated and comfortably furnished and felt both luxurious and homely.
When we arrived we found paper bags in the children’s room to welcome them. The bags each contained an apple, a bottle of water, some colouring sheets, information about children’s activities and a slip of paper inviting them to call room service for a cup of hot, frothy milk at bedtime (this delighted my son and I think has restarted a long-forgotten part of the bedtime routine in our house). There was also a packet of homemade strawberry and chocolate popcorn which the children devoured. There were white towelling robes, Molton Brown toiletries, mini Montezuma chocolate bars and a kettle to make tea and coffee in our rooms. Perfect.
Once we’d settled in we set off to explore in the chilly winter sunshine. We turned left out of the hotel gates and immediately came to the 17th century Richmond Arms where we were to have dinner later. The Richmond Arms is connected to the hotel building and has walls made of flint, a traditional construction material used in this part of Sussex. We then passed a giant sculpture of a head from the Cass Sculpture Foundation before walking through some huge iron gates and into the grounds of Goodwood House. Goodwood House is open to the public for tours at certain times but it wasn’t open when we were there so we contented ourselves with strolling through the grounds and past the grand house. Apparently the house has an impressive art collection including works by Van Dyck, Stubbs and Canaletto.
Goodwood Health Club
Back at our rooms my daughter and I picked up our swimming costumes and headed over to the Health Club while the boys took advantage of the hotel’s free WiFi to watch a Really Important football match on my husband’s tablet. (My son has a perforated eardrum at the moment and so can’t go swimming as he must keep his ear dry). The swimming pool was busy with small children and their parents and my daughter and I spent a relaxing hour chatting in the lovely jacuzzi pool and the steam room. We tried the sauna briefly too. There’s also a gym and spa at the health club as well as a golf course in the Estate grounds including a junior golf academy.
The Richmond Arms
Our dinner that evening was at The Richmond Arms, one of the four places to eat at Goodwood. The dining room is beautifully furnished with modern, wooden tables and chairs with comfortable pinky-red cushions. There are abstract black and white framed photos on the walls and the atmosphere at dinner was formal but friendly. We were given a three-course set menu with three choices for each course. I started with Whipped Golden Cross Goats Cheese, Heritage Beetroot, followed by Halibut, Grapefruit, Monk Beard, Rainbow Chard and then Chocolate Cremeux, Dates, Cocoa Nibs, Rum & Raisin Ice Cream. It was all delicious and my 16 year old daughter said: ‘It was one of my favourite meals ever. It was so good. I liked all of it’. My 12 year-old son wasn’t so sure – he found the menu a little challenging. He said: ‘It was quite grown-up. I don’t think that people below my age would like it’.
Breakfast the next morning was also at The Richmond Arms and was a more relaxed affair. There was a buffet of delicious food to choose from and you could also order hot dishes from the menu. I had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast. Much of the food used in the restaurants at Goodwood is from Home Farm, the Estate’s award-winning organic farm.
After breakfast we headed over to Home Farm for a tour with Education Officer Sarah Stewart. Home Farm is one of the UK’s largest organic farms and has won various UK Taste awards for its produce. Sarah showed us the farm’s cattle, pigs and sheep and we were lucky enough to see triplet lambs being born in one of the barns, helped by the shepherd’s daughter. We also saw (through a viewing window) some of the farm’s organic milk being bottled. We walked with Sarah through the woods and fields of the farm and along the edge of the field adjoining the Cass Sculpture Foundation, a privately-run sculpture park on the Estate which commissions, exhibits and sells large works of sculpture. Sarah runs guided walks, farm open days, forest activities for pre-schoolers and school visits and there are various children’s activities on offer at the farm during the school holidays.
Goodwood Bar & Grill
After walking around the farm we needed to warm up and the Goodwood Bar & Grill was just the place to do that. In the same building as the Health Club and overlooking the golf course the Bar & Grill is less formal than The Richmond Arms and my son was very pleased with it. He devoured a Goodwood burger (with beef from the farm) and fries while I opted for spicey carrot soup. My husband and daughter were still full from breakfast. We chose from the main menu but the Bar & Grill also has a cleverly-designed children’s menu which has layers of card to rotate to choose three options to create a balanced meal. If you’re visiting with younger children I think that this is a more relaxing place to eat than The Richmond Arms.
Goodwood Under 17s Academy
After lunch we drove over to the motor circuit because my daughter had been invited to try out the Under 17s Driving Academy. This is a new experience which launched this week. Kids under the age of 17 years old (as long as they’re 1.5 m tall) can have driving lessons in Mini Coopers with qualified, CRB checked driving instructors at the famous racing track. My daughter really enjoyed the experience and will be writing about it here next week. After her driving lesson it was time to head for home.
The Goodwood Hotel is a luxurious, relaxing and very English place for a break in a beautiful part of the country. The Goodwood Estate offers some unique experiences and events throughout the year. I loved our stay at Goodwood and would definitely recommend the hotel.
Family travel lowdown
Rooms at The Goodwood Hotel cost from £99 per night on Sundays and from £125 on other nights. During the Easter school holidays The Goodwood Hotel is offering three nights for the price of two on selected dates which means that a three-night stay will cost from £300 per room including breakfast. Kids under six years-old eat for free.
Disclosure: My family and I were guests of the Goodwood Hotel for one night for the purposes of this review.