"When would you like the butler to serve your dogs their dinner?”

Well, this comes pretty high on the list of questions I never thought I’d be asked. It was rapidly followed by another: “And would they care for doggy ice cream for afters?” Er…

You see, if you book a stay at Hound Lodge – an exclusive-use ten-bedroom house on Lord March’s exemplary Goodwood Estate – even your dogs are treated like aristocracy.

The questions were being asked by Alice, the lodge’s exceptionally conscientious party planner, a few days ahead of our weekend stay. As part of the experience, Alice ensures that every last possible detail has been considered before you even step foot on the grounds, part of the 12,000-acre estate.

This preparation includes planning your meals – for humans as well as canines – which will be cooked by your private chef. It’s a collaborative process where you begin with a few of your favourite things, and the chef finishes by turning them into culinary delights. It’s like Ready, Steady, Cook, but with more refinement and less Ainsley Harriott.

Dinner is not all you have to look forward to, though; there’s afternoon tea to kick off your stay. On arrival at the lodge, you’ll be met by the chief butler and a team of two deputies. Your bags are labelled and whisked away to your respective rooms (Alice had already asked me to decide which guests were staying in what rooms) before you are ushered into the drawing room for cake and tea – or something a little stronger, if you wish.

It’s difficult to get your head around genuine butler service. We’re not talking about an octogenarian who occasionally buffs your shoes here, but a team of highly trained ultra-efficient servants, all suited in morning dress, there to look after pretty much anything you can think of – and quite a lot besides.

There is a service button in every guest room, which you can ring at any time, day or night, and a butler will arrive to take your request. Need a shirt ironed for dinner? Not a problem. Can’t be bothered to take your dog for a walk first thing in the morning? Don’t worry about it, sir. Want your bath run for you? Consider it done. I suspect they might draw the line at actually handing you your towel. But I wouldn’t bet against it.

Ain’t nothing but a hound lodge

Goodwood was the home of the world’s first major foxhunt – the Charlton Hunt. Foxhunting was the most fashionable pursuit of the 18th century, and the Charlton would regularly attract more than 50 Lords. The Duke of Richmond bought nearby Goodwood as a comfortable place to stay and entertain his illustrious friends during the hunting season.

The Duke arguably enjoyed the company of dogs more than humans – indeed, the kennels and later Hound Lodge had central heating a full century before the manor house itself.

After the hunt was disbanded in 1895, it still took until the early part of the 20th century for Hound Lodge to begin its transition. The latest renovation and build took two years in total and was completed in January 2016. Although its previous residents are long gone, canine inspiration can be found throughout the home – from the artwork on the walls to the Wedgwood breakfast crockery which features a colourful hunting scene of an endless chase. Even the bedrooms are named after the ten hounds of the ‘Glorious Twenty-Three’ of 1738 – a hunt the 2nd Duke of Richmond described as “the greatest chase that ever was”. Lasting more than ten hours, and 57 miles, it was certainly one of the longest.

Decorated in period style, the rooms have some of the most comfortable beds you’ll ever have the pleasure of sleeping on. Their plump mattresses are filled with wool from the flock that graze on the estate. While you’re enjoying an after-dinner digestif in the lounge, the butlers even place hot water bottles inside your bed to heat them up before you turn in. Now that’s a warm welcome.

It’s a dog’s life

During the day, you’ll have all of the estate’s considerable and diverse charms to explore. There are two 18-hole golf courses, including the Downs Course – an 18 holer ranked 59th in Golf World’s Top 100 English Courses – designed by Gleneagles course architect James Braid. There’s even a PGA coaching team on hand if you get stuck in the rough.

For something equally high calibre, you could try clay pigeon shooting at the estate’s range – or opt for a treatment at the spa. For a bird’s-eye view of Goodwood, you can head to the aerodrome to fly a Cessna, a helicopter or even a warbird. With the latter, you’ll take control of a 550bhp 1943 Harvard Warbird and experience what it would’ve been like to be an RAF trainee during the second world war.

If you’re after something a little more 21st century, then throw down a few laps on the Goodwood Motor Circuit. The Ultimate Driving experience here starts off in a Mini, working up through increasingly serious BMWs, before finishing with a Rolls-Royce Wraith – certainly a fitting car for the surroundings. Of course, you may choose to eschew such fripperies, and instead play a game of croquet back on the lodge’s manicured courtyard.

At the end of a long day, there’s nothing quite like hearing the phrase ‘dinner is served’ – especially by an actual servant. And my word, is it served in style. The butlers take the whole Downton Abbey experience to the next level as they don white gloves and deliver silver service. Dishes are presented with the elegance of a ballerina combined with the efficiency of a soldier. The food is excellent, and would certainly hold its own in a London five-star hotel. The chef follows the seasons, and the produce comes direct from Goodwood’s farm – the largest lowland organic farm in the whole of Europe. The experience as a whole is an indulgence into a bygone era, and dinner is rounded off with cheese and port – for the latter, the host serves himself first and then passes it to the left. Old school.

Retiring to the lounge after dinner, there are enough cigars on display to stock James J Fox – and a trolley full of single malts to accompany them, not to mention the complimentary carafe of 15-year-old Glenfiddich left in each bedroom.

The only downside to Hound Lodge is how quickly you become used to it all. Returning home to a London flat after your stay here is like being downgraded from first class to cattle. I mean, I have to pour my own drink at home. What is the world coming to?

One night at Hound Lodge costs £10,000, but fill it to capacity and that’s £500 a head. This doesn’t include alcohol – sorry. Hound Lodge, Goodwood Estate, West Sussex, PO18 OPP; 01243 755 076; houndlodge.com