Chewton Glen Hotel, The New Forest
Muddy says: We love this super-luxe yet family-friendly hotel where tradition meets 21st century edge — a hard balance to maintain, but this New Forest institution manages it with aplomb.
Think Chewton Glen, think countryside idyll with a smattering of Soho. Grabbing it by the lapels of its Saville Row shirt, the powers-that-be have dragged this classic country-house hotel into the 21st Century. And some. From the moment you walk in, you feel like royalty… or a rock star. The airy rooms, with their plump King-size beds, antique chairs and parkland views are traditional with a twist, replacing chintz with an assured edge: a touch of clashing floral here, a gold gilt mirror there. The hotel is family-friendly, but large enough to contain the buzz of small people not to mention the grounds, all 130 acres, and outdoor pool. Come meal-time there’s a special menu from The Dining Room’s Executive Head Chef Luke Matthews, with much of the produce grown in the kitchen garden. Elsewhere, The Kitchen offers more relaxed fare.
Weddings, special occasions, weekend breaks and longer holidays are all catered for.
Chewton Glen has a secret. Surrounded by leaves and birdsong and shafts of sunlight, there’s a series of tree houses suspended high in The New Forest’s ancient woodland. This is luxury for the Bear Grylls generation, where guests wallow in childhood escapism laced with grown-up comforts: huge, cosy beds, outdoor hot-tubs, private dining and roaring wood-burners. Spaces range from a studio for romantic stays à deux up to the private treehouse for eight people.
Headed by the irrepressible James Martin, yes he of Saturday Kitchen fame and a Hampshire resident to boot, The Kitchen opened last year housing an open plan restaurant and cookery school. In contrast to The Dining Room’s more formal surrounds, expect a relaxed vibe, all industrial-meets-kitchen-garden chic and chefs rustling-up wood-fired pizzas, gourmet burgers and super-food salads — the bottomless brunch has Muddy’s name on it.
There’s nothing, nothing like a spa break. Your shoulders fall by three inches, your head clears; it is heaven. Chewton Glen’s offering is a place of joy with its hydrotherapy spa pool, nail studio, aromatherapy saunas, crystal steam rooms and twelve individual treatment rooms offering no fewer than 50 different treatments and holistic therapies. *Clears diary for whole week*
If you can drag yourself to exercise, there’s a 17m indoor pool plus tennis courts, dance studios, a gymnasium, and a nine hole golf course.