The Fine Art Of Being The Perfect Host

There has been much excitement at Ugbrooke Park following our recent mention in the July copy of  The Field magazine. Listed under ‘The best of the best’ as ‘Kindest Hosts’, Alexander was pretty chuffed to find himself singled out – ‘The Hon Alexander Clifford knows how to throw a good party at Ugbrooke House. We all love a good party at Ugbrooke, but they don’t just happen by accident. For those of you that have experienced one of our house parties, no doubt you will know all about the incredible food, the matched wines, and the incredible team on hand to take care of you throughout your stay, but had you ever considered what goes on behind the scenes to make your stay seamless? With this in mind, allow me to take you through my top tips on how to be the perfect host.


1. Semper Paratus

As per the family motto, it is important to do some preparations in advance of your guests’ arrival to ensure you are ‘always prepared’. From the moment the date is set, find out any special requests, allergies, and work out the logistics. In this thoroughly modern day and age, even the seemingly simple task of allocating rooms can be fraught with complexity. Between gender neutral first names, couples with different surnames and so on, make sure you speak to shoot captain or party leader to get a steer and avoid any embarrassment.


2. Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Any guest in your house should feel it is also their home. Once arrived, show them to their room, and ensure they know where to regroup when they are ready. At Ugbrooke Park, we like to add thoughtful touches such as hand-picked flowers from the garden, a fresh fruit bowl and homemade biscuits in case jet-lagged guests get peckish during the night. Now is also the time to provide information about the plan for the weekend, especially meals and dress codes and even the basics such as wifi codes and electrical adapters. Guests can feel uneasy should they need to ask you lots of questions.


3. Schedule

Should the duration of your guests stay be a busy one, providing them with a schedule of events in advance, including activities and mealtimes is a good idea. This can be quite broad and cover large periods of time or specific if there is a lot to fit in. Again this helps guests feel at ease and stops them having to ask constant questions.


4. Private space

A shooting trip with friends, family or work colleagues can really take it out of you. Knowing when and where they can seek a moment of downtime for a quick debrief, a nap or a change of clothes is important to allow them to recharge their batteries and stay in top form for the weekend. With what may be a busy schedule, allowing time and space for some respite is small but important detail.


5. Top up?

A guest’s glass should never be empty! You will of course have already sussed out their preferred tipple during your preparations and stocked the bar accordingly. That said, they may want to try something new, so ensure a range of drinks is available throughout their stay and be on hand to top up glasses and offer further refreshments where needed. A guest should not need to ask for a drink. This is also the reason we have paracetamol in every bedroom.


6. Conversation

As the host, it is important to initiate conversation and break the ice. Should a guest be attending with their significant other, ask how they met, discuss the plans for their stay. Open ended questions and general topics will help you to connect with your guests. If your party do not all not know each other yet, take your lead from Bridget Jones, and introduce your guests with a thoughtful detail or common interest. “Perpetua, this is Mark Darcy. Mark is a prematurely middle-aged……”


7. Dress code

How formal will mealtimes be? Will I need a tie? How ‘black tie’ is the black tie? In today’s age of loosening dress codes, this can present a huge challenge, particularly for guests that are already bringing guns, wellies and other assorted paraphernalia with little space for multiple options. I always find that advising what I am planning on wearing can help them navigate this sartorial minefield.

At Ugbrooke Park, enjoying your experience inside the house is just as important as enjoying your time in the field. Standing in the centre of beautiful Capability Brown parkland, Ugbrooke House will be as much your home as it is ours during your stay. With fourteen guest rooms, a chef and a butler on hand throughout your visit, as well as Alexander and myself, we will ensure your stay will be a memorable one. If you’d like to make an enquiry, please contact us at for more information.