Had you have driven past the imposing gates of Avington Park – once the home of King Charles II, who lived here with his mistress, Nell Gwynn, in the mid 17th century – just 12 months ago, you’d have found the views on the other side to include nothing more than a few open fields. A year on though and Stillwaters House, with its futuristic, glass and concrete clad exterior, has been delicately embedded in its natural surrounds, and though it cannot claim to have hosted royalty (yet), its enchanting views and ethereal position reign supreme.
Perched at the end of a clutch of lakes, the famous River Itchen flowing past just one charmingly-homemade bridge over, Stillwaters and its seven ensuite bedrooms faultlessly marry several of life’s greatest joys: a unique trifecta of entertaining, enriching wildlife and salient design.
Bathed in balmy biscuit-hued light during the daytime and lit up by a myriad oversized light fittings, roaring fireplace and candelabras at night, the glass fronted, double-height, living space is all at once grand and breathtaking, while also managing to create intimate spaces to relax, socialise and enjoy downtime. A sumptuous TV snug and a clean-lined state-of-the-art kitchen tucked away behind the grand main space add to the plethora of options for relaxing here, offering larger groups the opportunity to break into smaller clusters or families to really spread out and enjoy their downtime exactly as they like it or couples.
Days here are filled with a mix of fast and slow pursuits. ‘Slow’ in the form of oversized loveseats, which invite curl-legged book reading, lethargic meanders downstream from the back door – weaving in and out of the wizen trees, throng of bridges and seating areas – and evenings spent in the wood-fired hot tub, within touching distance of the lake itself, or huddled round the sunken firepit after sunbathing round the gently heated pool. While the ‘fast’ side of things, though we use the word without its hurried connotations, include a host of outdoor activities, from archery, off-road driving experiences and axe-throwing framed by Avington itself (food and beverages included) to biking, canoeing and boisterous game playing all within the Stillwaters vicinity. And in and amongst this, opportunities to make the most of life at Avington are peppered into the package, with art history workshops and wreath-making sessions available.
And the 360 experience on offer here extends to just about anything, private chefs can be organised, abundant hampers delivered, yoga sessions lead out in the open air by the pool, followed by wild swimming in the crystalline waters of the lake outside, and holistic wellness and sound bath sessions brought direct to door.
And though Stillwaters feels like a complete evolution in itself, it marks just the beginning of what will surely become a wellness destination for the most discerning circles, with plans for cabins, retreats, yoga spaces, infrared saunas and barbecue spots, all sprinkled along the banks of the lakes. Think: Wilderness festival meets lavish hotel.
In fact, for a house – and a vision – so bold and cutting-edge, it is truly remarkable how softly Stillwaters treads on the world around it, and how gently it invites its guests to do the same.
Avington, Winchester SO21 1DB