Review: Chewton Glen is the Stuff of Country Hotel Dreams
Britain is jam-packed with brilliant countryside hotels – but a select handful rise above the rest. One of these is Chewton Glen, the 18th century red-brick, ivy-clad manor house located on the edge of the New Forest, set amid 130 acres of glorious Hampshire parkland. Part of the Iconic Luxury Hotels group, which also includes Cliveden and the new Mayfair Townhouse, Chewton Glen is home to an award-winning spa, two restaurants and a cookery school, plus its collection of Instagram-famous treehouses, with plenty to offer couples, families and groups of friends alike.
Review: Chewton Glen, Hampshire
Traditional yet chic, there’s a timeless feel to Chewton Glen. British to its core, it’s all chintz and cosiness – from the burgundy bar to the manicured croquet lawn and floral wallpaper which runs throughout the hotel. Bedrooms range from smaller classic rooms to more extravagant suites, some with their own hot tub, others with a sun deck. For a particularly lavish stay opt for a Coach House Suite, which is spread across two floors and has its own semi-private walled garden, plus an indoor seating area and marble bathroom. Décor throughout is classic, but with all the modern luxuries expected from a hotel of this caliber, such as Bluetooth audio systems and flat-screen TVs.
The treehouses, meanwhile, are a more contemporary affair. Set amid a wooden valley and built atop stilts, these self-contained lodges sleep between two and 12, offering magical forest views, outdoor hot tubs and king-size beds. Expect plenty of lovely little touches, such as a daily breakfast hamper delivery, mood lighting, wood burning stoves and free-standing baths.
Be sure to try both restaurants during your stay. Head for lunch in The Kitchen, where James Martin and his talented team of chefs cook up a seasonal menu using ingredients grown on the hotel grounds. Fish features heavily, with a catch of the day simply grilled and served with lemon and watergrass or brown shrimp beurre noisette, alongside meat dishes like the indulgent wagyu and brisket burger, packed with bacon, crispy onion rings, tomato chutney and slaw.
There are also wood-fired pizzas, vibrant salads, and a selection of sharing plates (think braised beef arancini and crispy tiger prawns). Cocktails are a highlight here – our top pick is the Aphrodite, a less tart version of a Pornstar Martini made with vodka, Passoa, pineapple juice and Nyetimber. An outdoor terrace, meanwhile, is equally idyllic for sun-dappled Aperol Spritzes in the warmer months as it is hot toddies in winter.
The Dining Room is a more formal affair – though by no means stuffy. An excellent a la carte menu offers everything from Thai lobster curry to salt-baked beetroot, plus a roast meat option carved from a trolley (lamb, pork or beef depending on the day). The tasting menu, too, is a real treat, serving refined, artfully presented dishes like citrus-cured seabass, crispy pork fritters and a particularly delicious chocolate and almond financier.
Ultimate relaxation is the order of the day here. The fabulous spa is a haven of bliss, with a 17m indoor pool surrounded by loungers, an outdoor hot tub, and a labyrinth of interconnected hydrotherapy pools, where you can drift around trying out bubble loungers and body jets. Big windows overlook the grounds, meaning light floods the space and creating a real feeling of tranquility – both in bright daylight and come evening time (the Twilight Spa experiences are special).
A wide range of different treatments are available, from traditional massages and manicures to reflexology and ‘Body Recovery’, which involves a revitalising mix of salt scrubs, dry bodybrushing and lava stones. The spa recently partnered with CBD brand OTO, with the option to use its oil during your massage for an extra level of zen. Facials, meanwhile, use products from OSKIA and Natura Bissé, and can be tailored to meet your individual needs.
For those who want to do something a bit more active, a range of country sports are also available to book, from croquet and golf to archery and axe throwing. Families can also arrange a day at the on-site farm, where they can meet teddy bear sheep, goats, ducks and bunny rabbits. And over in The Kitchen, you can book cookery classes – or even learn how to forage.
While you won’t get bored within the confines of the hotel, it’s also well worth going for a wander. Take a 20-minute stroll to the seaside, go for a browse around the Grade I listed Highcliffe Castle, or hire a mountain bike from the hotel and explore the glades, moors and heathland of the New Forest.
THE FINAL WORD
It would be hard not to love Chewton Glen. The hotel is suited to all seasons: winter stays are filled with Sunday roasts, roaring fires and snug bedrooms, while in summer it’s all about al fresco drinks, long walks and dips in the outdoor pool. Whatever the weather, there are endless cosy corners for hibernating in with a good book. It’s designed to be a home from home – albeit a very luxurious one. Service is of course polished, but friendly and never overbearing, in-keeping with the relaxed vibe of the hotel. No surprise the hotel has scooped up numerous awards over the years. Over 50 years since its inception, it remains at the top of its game.
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