A Grown-Up Slumber Party at an English Country Hotel


For Eiesha Bharti Pasricha, the artistic director of the London members’ club Maison Estelle, entertaining is sacrosanct. Growing up in an Indian family in New Delhi — her father is the businessman Sunil Bharti Mittal — she understood early on that hospitality was not just a nicety but a cultural value to be upheld. “Hosting is the way we express our care,” says Bharti Pasricha, 39, who is known among her friends for organizing frequent dinners at her home in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood. “My grandmother always used to say, ‘Your guest is God.’”

Bharti Pasricha’s commitment to that ethos is, in part, why her husband, Sharan Pasricha, 42 — the co-chief executive officer and founder of the hospitality firm Ennismore, which is behind hotels including Gleneagles in Scotland and those of the Hoxton chain — brought her on as a collaborator for two of his company’s recent projects. In addition to co-founding Maison Estelle, a luxurious but unstuffy hideaway in a Georgian townhouse, Bharti Pasricha oversaw every detail in the creation of its rural counterpart, Estelle Manor, a 108-room, four-restaurant hotel in Oxfordshire that opened in May.

Though the property’s main building, a limestone neo-Jacobean mansion set on 60 acres of park and woodland, is undeniably grand, the couple have infused it with warmth. The interiors, conceived in part by the design studio Roman and Williams, are colorful and inviting, layered with verdure tapestries and antique furniture upholstered in offbeat jewel-toned textiles. And though some spaces on the property are reserved for members, you don’t need to be one to book a room.

A similar spirit of welcome was in evidence on a warm evening in September when Bharti Pasricha assembled a group of female friends for dinner and a night at the hotel, to celebrate the culmination of the project, which had been more than five years in the making. For the special meal, her first time hosting at the estate, she chose a wild-card format, asking each of her initial 20 guests to bring along a woman who inspires them. The result was an exuberant gathering of 40-plus childhood friends, family members and creative collaborators that felt something like a very grown-up sleepover.

After meeting for Champagne on the hotel’s south terrace, overlooking the property’s swimming pool — which is surrounded by Italian Riviera-style striped umbrellas — the group made its way to the walled garden, where dinner was served at a long table in the greenhouse, surrounded by aloe, senecio and yucca plants. The mood was jubilant; the singer Lulu, 74, took selfies with her fellow partygoers and women sent cocktails to one another across the table. After midnight, the guests were taken by golf cart back to the main house, now lit up dramatically against the night sky, where drinks were served in the members-only bar until the gathering eventually disbanded around 2 a.m. “Do you know how many friendships were made last night?” asked Bharti Pasricha, smiling, at breakfast the next day. “There were connections sparking all over the place.”

The attendees: Bharti Pasricha, whose guest of honor was her mother, Nyna Mittal, 63, invited 20 friends and their plus ones. Among the group were the Serbian-born, London-based fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic, 48, who arrived with her friend the Slovenian designer Lara Bohinc, 51; the French designer Julie de Libran, 51, who was joined by her sister and business partner, Fanélie Phillips, 54; the Italian hotelier Marie-Louise Sciò, 46, who was seated beside the British photographer Mary McCartney, 54, whose work “Gently Holding Frog” (1995) hangs in the hotel’s members-only study; and the British musician Anoushka Shankar, 42, who invited the British television presenter Anita Rani, 45.

The table: For the décor, Bharti Pasricha took cues from the green hues of the surrounding countryside and from the event’s kitchen garden-inspired menu, dressing the table with pale pistachio green linens and inviting the florist Katie Smyth, 37, of the East London-based studio Worm, to layer it with vegetables and flowers from the property’s walled garden. She arranged hydrangeas, cosmos, Japanese anemones, sweet peas and dahlias among piles of artichokes, cabbages, plums and brussels sprouts to create a centerpiece that brought to mind one of the 16th-century Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s food-filled paintings.

The food: Prepared by the hotel’s in-house chef, Ambra Papa, the meal began with seasonal crudités, including purple and white heritage carrots, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes, served with red pepper hummus. Next came sourdough bread with pickles and fennel pollen butter, and giant Orkney scallops cooked in their shells with basil and coriander gathered from the nearby potting shed. For the main course, roast chicken with cauliflower dressed in lemon and tahini was accompanied by a succession of sharing plates, which included green beans with olives and tomatoes, charred hispi cabbage with rose petal harissa and a staple of the hotel’s Glasshouse restaurant — cracked potatoes, made by steaming, crushing and frying potatoes with garlic, chiles, paprika and salt. Dessert was Bharti Pasricha’s favorite: Eton mess, made with wild strawberries and basil syrup.

The drinks: After sipping Billecart-Salmon Champagne on the terrace, guests were served French wines — Dominique Lafon Bourgogne Blanc 2020, Domaine des Mapliers rosé and Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Bourgogne Rouge 2020 — with dinner. Later, in the members’ bar, margaritas, made at Estelle Manor with Casamigos Blanco tequila, were passed around on silver trays.

The music: Early in the evening, two members of the Legends, a London-based quintet of Cuban musicians, played an acoustic set featuring Latin American standards such as “Candela” by the Buena Vista Social Club and Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida.” “I wanted it to feel convivial and fun,” says Bharti Pasricha.

The conversation: “There were no false pleasantries,” says Bharti Pasricha of the table talk, which ranged from the guests’ summer travels to maternity nurses to the international rise of women’s soccer. During the evening, de Libran discovered that Shankar was familiar with the same corner of San Diego that she grew up in — and that Shankar was a regular at her father’s bakery, Champagne French, in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

A table-arranging tip: When choosing the color palette for a table, Bharti Pasricha always starts with a single shade that riffs on the food and builds from there. For this meal, she began with a soft green, adding golden tones and blue notes for depth. To hosts in search of very particular hues, she recommends the hand-dipped candles from the Danish company Ester and Erik, which come in more than 93 shades.


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