As our journey to the New Forest began; I had no idea just how exciting the journey would be. There was snow on the ground for most of the way, and it was just how you’d always imagined your British country getaway. We were less than two hours outside of the city of London when we arrived in the New Forest. And how did we know that we had arrived? The free-roaming ponies, of course.
I couldn’t believe how quickly we swapped a motorway for a country road surrounded by nothing but long grassy plains and grazing ponies in what felt like the middle of nowhere.
As we sped through the twists and turns of the New Forest, we couldn’t quite believe it. It felt as though we’d discovered Britain’s best-kept secret in the middle of the countryside and become part of a select few who knew about it.
The New Forest was created in 1079 by William I as a royal hunting area in the South of England. Its name comes directly from the French for new hunting ground, Nova Foresta.
After just a short while, we arrived at the grandest of gates inviting us into a long winding driveway that would lead us to Chewton Glen. It was a crisp winter’s morning with nothing but blue skies and icy white frost glistening across the lawn as the sun shone down on the estate.
As we pulled up at the hotel valet, we gladly swapped the keys to our car for the keys to our suite.
As we walked to our suite, Smugglers, I heard nothing but the sound of my heels clacking on the cobbles and the twittering of birds. I’d arrived in quintessentially British bliss.
As I pressed the key against the door, I took great comfort in listening to that distinct whirring sound of a hotel door unlocking. As I gently pushed open the door, I walked into a suite that I was sure was not meant for me.
Dimly lit lamps in almost every corner of the room created that cosy country feel I’d been longing. My eyes were drawn to every nook and cranny, spotting every small detail around the room. I walked over to the plump lush green sofa with every intention of taking a seat and pouring a glass of the Veuve Clicquot Champagne that sat in an ice bucket on the coffee table, until a glimpse of the bedroom around the corner stopped me in my tracks.
Beyond the living room lied a bedroom fit for royalty. An entire wall was lined with dressing-room style wardrobes, while another was complete with white wooden panelled floor to ceiling windows and a set of French doors. As I forgot entirely about the Champagne and walked towards the bedroom doors, I could hear a slight whirring coming from outside. I turned the key in the lock and stepped outside into the open-air terrace and looked up at the stars. And then I noticed where that whirring noise was coming from. It was the humming of the outdoor hot tub; somewhere that I knew I was going to very much enjoy during my stay.
Though I knew I’d be spending most of my time in the outdoor hot tub, I was eager to know whether I had a bath tub to soak in, too – something that I believe no night away is complete without.
I was not disappointed. I flicked the light switch and stepped into the bathroom to find a double vanity unit, a bath tub and even a double shower for two.
I stood for a moment and let out a sigh of relief, and then I remembered the Champagne.
After a sip or two I’d really got the taste for it, and so I headed down to The Colonel Tinkers Bar for a pre-dinner drink. I took a seat in the plush burgundy velvet sofa by the open fire and perused the cocktail menu while the faint crackle of the fire sent me into a state of deep relaxation that I could have sat in for hours. The bar exuded an antiquated feel; wrapped entirely in dark mahogany wood and furnished with old-fashioned arm chairs and chaise lounges.
We hadn’t been in The Bar long before we were called for dinner in The Dining Room.
Spread across five rooms, with the Wine Cellar at the heart of them all, The Dining Room is the perfect place to while away the hours. Serving anything from a light lunch or supper, to a wine tasting dinner hosted by Chewton Glen’s very own Chef Sommelier, The Dining Room exceeds your every expectation.
We took our seats at the last remaining table in the restaurant – something that is alwaysa good sign. My eyes wandered around the very traditionally British menu until I decided upon the risotto of forest mushrooms, pickled walnut and truffled pecorino to start, followed by an eight-ounce fillet steak on the bone with a red wine sauce and triple cooked chips.
The risotto was familiarly thick and creamy, yet like no risotto I’d ever tasted before. Truffle can often be quite overpowering, but this risotto had the perfect balance. The shavings of cheese melted as they touched my tongue, while the walnuts added just the right amount of crunch. It’s only flaw could be that there wasn’t more.
I wasn’t sure if I’d perhaps enjoyed the risotto too much and spoiled myself for my main course, but after I’d had a mouthful of the fillet steak I knew there was no way that I was going to leave any. Tender and full of flavour; I could have eaten the fillet of steak all on its own without any of the frills. Though, the sticky red wine sauce was the perfect companion for my fluffy triple cooked chips.
With absolutely no room for dessert, we ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne to be taken to our suite so that it’d be there in time for our return.
Before heading back, we went to leave the restaurant by way of the Wine Room, a working cellar at the heart of The Dining Room. Glancing through the wall of wine bottles, I could see a private dining room illuminated by two walls of wine cabinets containing some of the world’s most tempting wines. Whether you’d like to enjoy the six-course tasting menu and sample a different wine to complement each course, or whether you’d like to sip on a few different wines during an evening of wine tasting that takes place every Saturday night; Chewton Glen’s award-winning Wine Room is the perfect place to do so.
The following morning, we woke feeling utterly refreshed and ready to hit the spa. After a dip in the seventeen-metre pillar-lined indoor swimming pool, we hopped out and into the state of the art hydrotherapy spa pool. With six hi-tech therapy options to choose from, it’s no wonder that Chewton Glen is recognised as one of the top spa destinations in the world and has before been voted the best in Europe.
With little time left before our treatment, we headed into the aromatherapy sauna and crystal steam rooms for one last surge of relaxation before our hour-long massage that we were sure was going to be out of this world. We were not wrong.
Chewton Glen prides itself on its spa facilities, and it has every right to do so. The deep-tissue massage was just what I needed to complete my twenty-four hour stay at Chewton Glen. I didn’t have one knot left in my body and my mind had completely unravelled. I felt a million miles away from the city of London, though I’d be back there within two hours or so.
Before heading home, we wanted to venture out on a country walk through the Chewton Glen estate and beyond. But before we did, we needed to refuel. We wandered over to The Pool Bar which is like no pool-side eatery you’ve ever known. With a specially formulated healthy alkaline buffet and menu; the Pool Bar is the perfect post-spa companion.
Afterwards, we walked back over to the hotel in a trance. Were we ever going to come out of our deeply relaxed states? We had hoped not.
We put on a pair of Hunter wellies that the hotel so kindly offer to all their guests, and set out on the Beach Walk. It was a twenty-minute walk through the estate and through the Chewton Bunny Nature Reserve to reach the Hampshire seafront. It was another clear day and the sky was blue so we were lucky enough to see across to the Isle of Wight, also.
The birds were twittering and the waves were lapping up against the shore. It was this exact moment that confirmed to me that my stay at Chewton Glen was one of the best I’d had in the country. When I shut my eyes and listened to the waves I felt like I really could have been anywhere in the world.
Christchurch Rd, New Milton BH25 6QS