When you hear the word Goodwood, perhaps you think of motorsports, horse racing or even golf, and you’d be right, but there is so much more to this remarkable estate than its sporting attractions alone.
Tucked away in the beautiful rolling folds of West Sussex, the 12,000-acre Goodwood Estate has been the family seat of the Dukes of Richmond since 1697. Today, alongside its reputation as England’s greatest sporting estate, it is home to an elegant hotel, self-catering cottages, restaurants, a farm shop, health club and more, plus miles of walking trails and a plethora of extraordinary experiences, making it a truly remarkable place to spend a weekend (or longer…), as I was lucky enough to discover…
Over the course of the year, the estate plays host to several world-famous events; first up is the Festival of Speed – motorsports’ ultimate summer garden party. Next is the Qatar Goodwood Festival – also known as ‘Glorious Goodwood’ – a thrilling week of horse racing at the estate’s racecourse, which is renowned for being the most beautiful in the country. September sees Goodwood Revival; the only historic race meeting in the world that is staged entirely to a period theme, and is as much about recreating the fashion and culture of the postwar years as it is about historic racecars. The year 2023 is also a particularly special one for the estate as it celebrates Goodwood 75, which marks several anniversaries, including 75 years since the renowned Goodwood Motor Circuit opened in 1948. If you’re not able to visit during one of these extraordinary events, then fear not; Goodwood has plenty to offer all year-round.
At the heart of the estate proudly sits Goodwood House, which is undoubtedly one of the finest stately homes in England today. As the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon, this captivating country house offers both historic opulence and the charm and warmth of a family home. Much like the rest of the estate, the house is immaculately well-kept. Unlike the faded grandeur of many similar historic properties, it oozes Regency splendour and is pristine throughout.
The beautiful Yellow Drawing Room is adorned with rich golden silk and full-length family portraits, while the lavish Egyptian Dining Room, still used for entertaining today, is a masterclass in decorative opulence.
On certain days of the week, knowledgeable guides lead tours around the impressive property, taking in roaring fires, historic furniture, royal artefacts and one of the most significant private art collections in the country, featuring works by the likes of Van Dyck and Canaletto.
Tours are followed by a scrumptious traditional afternoon tea served in the magnificent Ballroom; designed in the French style of Louis XV, its tall walls are lined with lavish red wallpaper and an astonishing array of artworks in opulent gold frames. Evocative classical music gently plays as delicious loose-leaf tea from Cornwall and glasses of chilled English sparkling wine are served alongside pillow-soft finger sandwiches, homemade fruit scones, and an assortment of delectable cakes and pastries, all made using organic produce from Goodwood’s very own Home Farm. It is an unforgettably splendid experience.
Further elegant interiors can be found across the estate. In addition to the 91-bedroom, four-star Goodwood Hotel, visitors can stay in Hound Lodge, a luxurious 10-bedroom country retreat, complete with its own butler and private chef; or make themselves at home in the estate’s most recent addition, The Pheasantry. It’s a picture-perfect Palladian style hideaway that sits just behind Goodwood House, within the gated parkland of the estate. True to its name, it is surrounded by handsome game birds that strut around the surrounding fields, adding to the beautiful backdrop of quintessential English countryside. With views that stretch across the estate to Chichester and the sparkling sea on the horizon beyond, this elegant yet cosy property offers the rare peace, privacy, and seclusion of staying on the estate itself, while feeling like a home away from home. Inside, there’s a sleek, contemporary kitchen with dining area, a cosy living room with a working fireplace, three beautiful bedrooms and a large master bathroom complete with rich blue tiles, a clawfoot bath and lovely views over the enormous private garden.
There are also plenty of charming touches, such as a welcome hamper filled with local produce, and even a plush dog bed, bowls and a treat tin, so that pampered pooches can unwind in style too.
If you can tear yourself away from the comfort of the cottage, Goodwood’s Health Club is just a short walk away, where you can take a dip in the swimming pool, work out in the state-of-the-art gym, unwind in the steam room or sauna, or indulge in a restorative treatment.
The signature Wellbeing Face & Body Infusion – 60 heavenly minutes of muscle-melting massage combined with an exceptionally good facial – is an incredibly effective stress buster.
Goodwood’s impressive wellness offering extends to residential retreats that focus on the likes of gut health, menopause, and the Wim Hof technique. There’s also a busy schedule of fitness and wellbeing classes, including yoga, Pilates, sound-healing sessions and more, while guests are also encouraged to head outside and enjoy the natural beauty of the estate. Hand-illustrated maps outline beautiful walking trails, as well as forest-bathing opportunities, bird-watching hot spots, and more. Having worked up an appetite, the estate’s award-winning flagship restaurant, Farmer, Butcher, Chef is a perfect place to refuel. Located just yards from Goodwood Home Farm, one of the largest lowland organic farms in the UK, the restaurant’s menu makes full use of the exceptional ingredients produced here.
Served amid eclectic artwork and rustic pub interiors, generous Butcher’s Boards highlight different cuts of estate-reared beef, pork, and lamb, while other dishes champion seasonal fish, vegetables, and more.
Be sure to leave room for pudding – the wonderful cheese trolley offers a terrific selection of delicious British varieties, including some made on the estate, and the apple crumble soufflé is not to be missed.
Guests of The Pheasantry are also granted access to Goodwood’s chic private members’ club, The Kennels, which once housed the Duke of Richmond’s hunting hounds and is now a stylish and sophisticated spot for a drink or a meal with fabulous views across the estate. Keep an eye out for the shelves of blue-and-white dog bowls that line the elegant entrance hall – these are for The Kennels’ four-legged members, who each get their own bowl hand-painted with his or her name, while their membership fee is donated to charity.
If you’d like to make full use of The Pheasantry’s wellappointed kitchen, the estate’s small but perfectly formed Farm Shop stocks a multitude of mostly local ingredients that can be whipped up into a delicious dinner, including meat and dairy from the estate and bottles of Goodwood’s very own craft gin and beer. There’s also an impressive sushi menu, courtesy of Little Fish’s ‘Sushi in the Sticks’ service, created by Michelin-trained, multi-award-winning chef Neil Witney.
Of course, no trip to Goodwood would be complete without just a taste of its sporting activities. Like a Disneyland for grownups (but with fewer rides and far more sophistication…), there’s a thrilling choice of oncein-a-lifetime experiences that can be arranged. Channel your inner Tiger Woods with a round of golf on one of the stunning courses – the beautifully designed 1930s-style golf buggies are an unforgettable experience in themselves.
Thrill-seekers can take to the sky in a helicopter, small aircraft or even a historic Spitfire at the Goodwood Aerodrome, or hit the tarmac in a driving experience at the historic Motor Circuit, where you can get behind the wheel of some beautiful classic cars or put more modern highperformance vehicles through their paces. For something truly unique, not to mention incredibly good fun, why not ‘embrace the bounce’ and go off-roading in one of the estate’s brilliant classic Land Rovers from the 1960s?
Nearby, the historic cathedral city of Chichester and the South Downs await, as do the stunning sand dunes of The Witterings, but when staying on this charismatic estate, you might find it hard to leave.
Goodwood prides itself on a ‘passion for excellence’ and this ethos is evident throughout, from the charming and efficient team who work there, to the immaculate facilities and stunning surroundings. This, combined with its fascinating history and sense of sophisticated fun, really does make a stay at Goodwood truly glorious.
The Pheasantry is a luxury self-catering holiday cottage sleeping up to six people and is priced from £1,275 for a three-night weekend stay, goodwood.com
Text by Sophie Farrah