This five-star country house property celebrated its 50th anniversary as a hotel last year. Located on the edge of the New Forest, it’s part of Iconic Luxury Hotels, which also comprises Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, the Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds – due to complete a full renovation next month – and 11 Cadogan Gardens in Knightsbridge. It is also a member of Relais and Châteaux.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Refined and luxurious, yet homely and family-friendly, Chewton Glen is a beautiful place to recharge for a few days. Set in more than 52 hectares of carefully maintained parkland, gardens and woodland, the main house was thought to have been originally built in the early 18th century.
Access is via a long tree-lined drive through the grounds – the estate is home to more than 158 varieties of trees – which takes you past the new Kitchen restaurant and cookery school, and the walled kitchen garden and nursery.
We visited in July, when the weather was glorious, the gardens were in full bloom and the well-heeled guests sipped champagne on the outdoor terrace, pottered about on the pristine croquet lawn, or lounged around the secluded outdoor pool.
Should the sun not have been out, inside the main house – past the row of Hunter wellies lined up in the entrance – is a series of elegant lounges with sumptuous seating and newspapers laid out for a leisurely read, plus a clubby-style bar, the Dining Room restaurant and an expansive spa. Staff were welcoming and helpful throughout.
WHERE IS IT?
In New Milton in Hampshire, just south of the New Forest and about a 20-minute walk to the beach through the hotel grounds and the Chewton Bunny nature reserve.
It’s about a two and a quarter-hour drive from central London via the M3, and about half an hour from Bournemouth. Valet parking is available, and there’s also a helipad, should you wish to arrive in style.
There are 70 rooms and suites in total – 58 in the main house, plus 12 Treehouses set in their own private area of the grounds, surrounded by greenery. A further Treehouse is due to be completed in October.
Each room in the house is individually designed in English country-house style – some traditional, others more contemporary – with varying colour palettes. Many have a private balcony or terrace. They range from entry-level Garden rooms (36-42 sqm) to the 83 sqm Marryat suite, which has a large terrace with a hot tub and overlooks the croquet lawn.
Provided as standard are king-size beds, free wifi, Samsung tablets loaded with hotel information, Bluetooth audio systems, safes, ironing boards, thick robes, Ren toiletries, large bottles of water and a fridge with complimentary organic juices. Suites have Nespresso machines, otherwise tea and coffee facilities are not provided in the rooms.
My first-floor Croquet Lawn room was spacious, at 60 sqm, with a mauve and mint colour scheme, a large and well thought-out dressing area and an attractive bathroom with a big tub, double walk-in shower and twin sinks.
There was also a sitting area with a plump sofa and armchairs, a wooden writing desk for working, and full-height glass doors opening on to a private balcony overlooking the lawn. It was a lovely space to relax in and very peaceful, despite the hotel being at full capacity.
Suspended more than ten metres above ground, the Treehouses are semi-detached suites with natural, modern interiors, kitchenettes, log burners, marble bathrooms with free-standing tubs overlooking the forest, and floor-to-ceiling windows opening on to wraparound balconies with hot tubs and sun loungers. Breakfast hampers are delivered in the mornings.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The Dining Room is set across a series of adjoining spaces – ask for a seat in one of the airy conservatory-style rooms overlooking the grounds – and serves impressive fine-dining cuisine. My starter of dressed Devonshire crab with apple, pickled daikon and celeriac was terrific – fresh, tangy and generous – while my lemon sole from the grill was perfectly cooked.
Many ingredients come from the kitchen garden, while the honey is supplied by about 50 on-site beehives – sample it in the delicious iced Chewton Glen honeycomb partfait for dessert. The wine list is extensive, with more than 1,800 bottles, and English wines well represented.
In spring this year the hotel opened the Kitchen, a casual restaurant, cookery school and bakery created by celebrity chef James Martin, who worked at the property earlier in his career. It’s a bright, bustling space with an open kitchen and an outdoor terrace. Next to it are vegetable patches and a greenhouse where produce is grown.
There are more than 42 classes to choose from, including breadmaking, dinner party creation, cheesemaking, Asian or Middle Eastern cooking, raw food and “James Martin’s Perfect Puddings” (from £135 for half-day courses or £185 for full days). Groups of up to 12 people can have private tuition with chef tutor Rob Cottam or dine at the chef’s table.
The menu includes a range of grazing plates – try the plump and juicy gin and tonic scampi with ponzu dressing and the fragrant Thai crab risotto – as well as superfood salads, wood-fired pizzas, burgers, grill and fish dishes. I had an excellent 8oz salt aged Udale ribeye steak, followed by decadent warm doughnuts with hot cinnamon and milk sauce.
The biggest event space, the Lake suite, has its own terrace and holds 140 delegates seated or 200 for a reception. There are some smaller meeting rooms, while larger groups can be accommodated in marquees in the grounds.
Teambuilding activities that can be staged include clay pigeon shooting, falconry, apache racing buggies, archery, duck herding and Segway polo. Further afield, the likes of 4×4 safaris and guided canoeing tours can be arranged in the New Forest, or RIB treasure hunts and sailing regattas on the Solent.
Open to a capped number of members as well as hotel residents, the well-equipped spa and health club has 12 treatment rooms – I enjoyed a relaxing full-body massage from a skilled therapist. There’s a lovely Grecian-style 17-metre pool, a large hydrotherapy pool, an outdoor spa bath, men’s and women’s saunas and steam rooms, a good-sized gym with Technogym equipment, and nail and dance studios.
The property also has a nine-hole par-3 golf course, two indoor and two outdoor tennis courts, and a kids’ club.
Special events take place throughout the year – there was a pop-up cinema set up while we were there, showing classic movies in a luxury tent.
Undoubtedly one of the UK’s best country house hotels, Chewton Glen has all the facilities you could conceivably need for a pampering break, plus excellent service and dining options, and a fantastic setting by the sea and New Forest should you feel the need to leave the grounds. A real treat.
Internet rates for an overnight stay in September started from £325 for a Garden room. A “kids stay free” programme is offered on weekends and school holidays.