Just two hours away from London, against the backdrop of the lush green wilderness of the New Forest and only 10 minutes from the coast rests this quintessential English luxury country house. Chewton Glen, in South West Hampshire has loyal customers who return back to this home away from home every year for the past 50 years. Generations of families have got married in one of the gorgeous rooms in the property and families book their Christmas celebrations at Chewton Glen a year in advance. This is hardly surprising for a Relais Chateaux property that has won every award possible from the Best hotel in the British Isles to the Best Hotel for Families by Conde Nast Johansens 2015.
I feel the experience on arrival to a hotel always sets the tone for your stay. Within seconds of driving into the long driveway of Chewton Glen, our car was valet parked and we were taken straight to our room, The Jacob Faithful Suite, where we were welcomed with Champagne, a selection of fruits and Belgian chocolates assembled in a box that looked like the infamous façade of Chewton Glen. The very brief check-in happened in the comfort of our living room that overlooked the beautifully manicured croquet grounds of the hotel.
The Jacob Faithful Suite, a 76m2 traditional master bedroom is the epitome of luxury English living. Anita Rosato, the hotel’s trusted interior designer has tastefully used salmon pink and light grey to create a soft and calm feel to the living room and bedroom. Each fabric, cushion or armchair has clearly been well thought through and the combination of the interiors has created a timeless look. The living room has a Nespresso machine, a wicker basket of mason jars with 4 different loose tea leaves, and of course a Wedgewood coffee and tea set. If you are not opting for a digital detox, then pick up the tablet and select a film, and within minutes your doorbell will ring with the DVD of your choice.
Chewton Glen is made for relaxation. Central to this is the hotel’s world-class spa facilities, where you can easily spend a whole day, uninterrupted. My husband and I spent almost a day moving from the indoor 17metre ozone treated pool to the relaxing hydrotherapy pools, intermitted by outstanding massages. The spa has 60 treatments to choose from. For something a little different and holistic try the Kundalini massage that focuses on your chakras. Your therapist will place Himalayan salts on your chakras and massage your energy points in synchronisation with the Himalayan music. Follow this with some time in the 6 hydrotherapy pools and you will feel like you have been given a new lease of life. The spa has carefully thought through the small details resulting in an exceptionally relaxing stay – from the soft blue sky painted above the indoor swimming pool, the Ren bath products in every shower or toilet and to the extensive alkaline menu at the Spa café.
The spa naturally takes centre attention of the activities on offer at Chewton Glen. However, the hotel uniquely offers a wide range of activities including, a 9-hole golf course, 4 tennis courts (2 indoor), clay pigeon shooting, archery, apache buggy racing and duck herding. It’s no surprise that families often spend one to two weeks here in the summer, especially as the hotel puts on special activities for children including a tee pee for story time. This is the type of place, where if you are celebrating a special occasion, the staff here will put together any activity to ensure you and your family have a memorable stay.
What struck me most about Chewton Glen is that amidst the impeccable service in every part of this 130 acre hotel; the atmosphere is intimate and homely; and as relaxed or sophisticated as you want it to be. The staff read our mood, and engaged in banter with us and amongst them selves. They also effortlessly served us our delicious deserts in the cosy burgundy walled hotel bar, so that we could play backgammon in front of the fire place whilst we tucked into the rhubarb and raspberry soufflé and the chocolate fondant with salted caramel and spiced apples with Calvados ice cream.
Chewton Glen uses the freshest of fresh ingredients from its own kitchen garden and from the Paris food market, where it gets the first choice of the finest fruits and vegetables everyday. There are 4 to 5 vegetarian options at The Dining Room; which are each incredibly well thought through and beautifully presented. The menu is seasonal, though I am sure that the showstopper double-baked Emmental soufflé will find its way through every season as it is exceptionally light yet so warming. If there is some cheese left in your dish scoop it up with Chewton Glen’s very own date and walnut bread. Chewton Glen has a selection of 1400 wines to choose from. This divine soufflé is sensational with Kitterle Pinot Gris from Schlumberger.
One night at Chewton Glen is sufficient to indulge in the finest of English country homes without breaking the bank, two nights will allow you to truly relax and disconnect, and with 3-4 nights, rest assured you will go home feeling 5 years younger.
Chewton Glen also has luxurious tree houses nestled in the wooded valley of the grounds, where guests can indulge in privacy and enjoy panoramic forest views from the comfort of the beautifully designed tree houses – perfect for a very special occasion. Just 2 hours away from London, Chewton Glen should feature on any British holiday and is the obvious weekend break for those looking to escape the city.