Short stay: De Vere Wokefield Estate, Berkshire, UK
The address may suggest urban Reading. But this 250 acre estate marks the point where rural leafy Royal Berkshire slides towards the green pastures of Hampshire.
An 18-hole PGA standard golf course, with confidence-building fast and true greens, meanders through classic English countryside: nine lakes, brooks and mature woodland. Given location and the quality of the course, it is a popular destination for golf breaks. Play 18 holes. Relax in the bar before dinner. Enjoy deep restorative sleep. Loosen up in the gym and pool before breakfast. Then, recharged and revitalised, play another 18.
Accommodation is available in the modern Wokefield Place, Wellington Lodge or the historic mansion house. Dating back centuries, the light grey mansion house, has recently undergone a transformative £20m restoration programme. With its Doric columned grand entrance porch, the current house with an eye on the grandeur of Ancient Rome, was built as a family home in 1720 during the reign of Mary 1.
With many guests arriving for a golf break first contact is checking-in for tee-off at the golf shop.
Then there is dedicated check-in at the appropriate section of the Wokefield Estate.
Overlooking rolling acres of mature parkland, the first-floor suite is one of 12 that makes up the 87 rooms available in the mansion house. A high-ceilinged bedroom and lounge recall spacious, lordly living from a bygone age. An antiquarian map of Berkshire stretches out above the tan leather headboard.
Framed pressed-leaves cluster on the soothing light grey walls. In both the air-conditioned lounge – with sofa, chairs, tartan footstools and coffee table – and the bedroom, there are wall mounted televisions.
As well as a spotlight lit luxurious master bathroom, there is another loo too. These suites provide home-from-home comforts encouraging guests to linger on the Wokefield Estate for a few days.
In addition to a separate rainfall shower, there is a large bath for recuperative soaks with decadent organic lifestyle toiletries from Harrogate company H2K.
In the mansion house, the 1560 Restaurant and Bar provides fine dining from a seasonal menu that is locally sourced whenever possible. Alternatively, for more casual dining, there is a bar menu offered in St Benedict’s bar.
Living-up to its name, The View Restaurant’s tall glass windows provide rural vistas across the Wokefield Estate’s acres.
Wherever guests are staying on the estate, they are always within a short walk of the leisure facilities: an indoor swimming pool and a well-equipped gym. Golfers usually arrive early to warm-up on the driving range at the Golf Academy and sharpen their short game on the putting green.
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A mere 10 minutes south of the M4, the De Vere Wokefield Estate is easily accessible.
Even more so now that the Elizabeth Line has opened to speed access from London to the Berkshire countryside.
Other nice touches
In the true leisurely spirit of the great English country house, the wood-panelled Whisky Lounge, in the main mansion, gives guests a spot to relax.
Here they can sink into comfortable armchairs and relax after dinner, as they peruse an extensive selection of whiskies.
Bed and breakfast begins from £109 for a double room.
The best bit
The 18 holes of the golf course meander through a rural idyll of the English countryside with thatched cottages in the background. Flotillas of ducks swim, yellow irises flourish and bulrushes sway in the breezes drifting across the parkland, on the nine lakes. Though, beware of the lake that lurks unexpectedly at the back of the 10th green.
Amongst the expansive 250 acres of the estate there are some lengthy holes whose well-maintained fairways stretch into lengthy par fives: the 4th checks in with 585 yards off the blue tee. But the 14th takes the longest title at 602 yards. For the record, that is more than a third of a mile. Rarely, are fairways within hooking or slicing distance of each other, but with an echo of Phil Collins fatalism, a notice warns players that from the 4th fairway, the 5th fairway is out of bounds because, “That’s just the way it is.”
This is a par 72 course, pleasantly flat, which challenges the most skilled of golfers, both in terms of strategic decision-making and precise shot-execution. After a gentle warm-up on the opening dog-leg par four hole, the 2nd’s fairway waits with a Saharan sized bunker. Though it is the par three 12th, not such a short hole at 192 yards from the blue tee, which, with a psychologically testing shot across a lengthy lake, is the signature hole.
The final verdict
Seemingly far from the madding crowd, yet so easily accessible, De Vere Wokefield Estate is perfectly positioned for a restful rural escape.
Although the grandeur of the architecture and scale of the accommodation in the mansion is stately home rather than boutique, there is an intimate feel to a grand house that houses just 87 keys, be they rooms or suites.
Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by De Vere Wokefield Estate.