Happy new year everyone! Here’s to a fabulous 2019 filled with incredible journeys, fun times with friends and everything you’re dreaming of! I’ve taken a bit of a blog-break over the festive season (which I spent in India – more of which later), but now eatingcoventgarden is back and there’s so much exciting stuff coming up.
And what better way to start the year than to tell you all about my relaxing visit to the Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa. This is one seriously stunning place to relax. It’s set in the picturesque Hampshire countryside on the edge of the beautiful New Forest, and only a short train ride from London. A ride that transported us to another world – a dreamy one of luxury and indulgence.
From New Milton station we were swept along idyllic country lanes peppered with sheep and tempting pubs, all of which made me feel a bit like Cameron Diaz in The Holiday (without the snow). The whole Chewton Glen experience did feel a bit like living in a movie generally! From the moment you turn down their grand driveway you start to get that superstar feeling.
The Manor House at Chewton Glen dates back to the 17th century, although it only opened as a hotel in 1966. As well as the main building there are 13 treehouse suites a short walk away.
The opulent rooms exuded tranquility and comfort, and colourful, curling flames offered their own warm welcome. The bar’s a place you could certainly spend many hours in and you’d have to – just to try the incredible range of gin on offer. Love a good G&T.
Our two-bedroom Coach House Suite was on two floors, with gorgeous ensuite bathrooms (and a giant shower upstairs), a lounge and work area and a private courtyard. With a centrepiece of a large bed with plumped pillows and fine linens, a variety of teas and snacks to enjoy and a chilled bottle of bubbles waiting, it was all oh-so-heavenly. I could have moved in permanently. Seriously.
Just down the road the treehouses sit high in the verdant tree canopy, way above ground. They have large terraces with daybeds and hot tubs where you can really chill and get back to nature.
There’s plenty to do at Chewton Glen, but I can tell you it’s not easy getting yourself out of the comfort of your room. But it’s worth the effort – everything is so lovely, as you’ll soon discover when you start to explore.
Like the spa! It has a sparkling 17m indoor pool for serious length-time, an incredible hydrotherapy spa pool to massage some aches away and rejuvenating aromatherapy saunas.
There’s also a well-equipped gym (and yes I did try it out).
Feel the stress melt away as you wrap the luxury robe snugly around you and head for the treatment rooms. There’s a great menu of choices – I loved the Salt Back Recovery – 75 minutes of back, neck and shoulder massage with delightful aromas from a range of products wafting throughout.
You also have to head outdoors. It’s great outdoors! There’s tennis courts, a croquet lawn and a 10-hole golf course which I strolled through, heading for the Chewton Bunny Nature Reserve. How’s that for a great name?
A leaf-strewn path wound through the damp and earthy-smelling forest. All very Midsomer Murders – I half expected to stumble upon a body or some dastardly deed in the making. Instead I met friendly dog walkers and fellow ramblers before emerging from the trees to majestic sea views and the beach below.
It’s just as well there are so many fab ways to expend some energy – because you’re going to need to enjoy all that tasty food on offer. The main restaurant serves up a delicious breakfast buffet as well as a la carte options like this avocado and poached egg on toast. I find avo for breakfast hard to resist and it went so perfectly with this perfectly poached egg. There was even a little chilli in there.
The lunch and dinner menus presented a tasty array of dishes inspired by local, autumnal ingredients. Like this amazing venison served with wild mushrooms and a luscious gravy.
And then there’s The Kitchen just down the road. This more informal dining experience is the baby of well-known chef James Martin – one of his first jobs (at 22) was here in the kitchens of Chewton Glen, so I guess it must have a special place in his heart.
There’s a good selection of pizzas, burgers and tapas-size portions. We shared a selection, including the richness of the West Country venison ragu made with chestnuts, pancetta and sloe gin and served with fresh pasta.
And this delightfully crispy truffle polenta served with black garlic mayo. Love it when it’s truffle season.
Time spent at Chewton Glen is time that heals the soul, though it does kind of break your heart when you’ve gotta leave. Who wouldn’t want to live like a superstar forever?!