Chewton Glen hotel in the New Forest is one of the best places in the UK to go for a revitalising weekend break or a weeks complete relaxation. It is truly a multi award winning hotel and a Relais & Chateau member since 1971 with a fantastic Spa. My wife and I travelled down there to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.
Lord: We had a surprisingly easy journey down to Chewton Glen, thanks to the route provided by the front desk to avoid traffic on a Friday afternoon. Rolling through the most beautiful parts of the New Forest, deer and horses scattered amongst the red heather. The last leg of the journey consisted of a gorgeous winding English country drive leading up to a lovely fountain and the hotel entrance. Upon arrival our car was whisked off to parking and we were welcomed by name at the desk and the bags discreetly removed to our rooms. The hotel is very luxurious, and the grounds look fabulous.
Lady: Arriving at Chewton Glen is a real pleasure, from the moment your car door is opened for you, you really feel looked after and begin to relax. In one of their brochures they tell you they have a 3 to one staff to guest ratio and it certainly shows; you never have to wait for anything, really the service is excellent, welcoming, polite, friendly and helpful.
Lord: Let me state this at the beginning, the care and detail taken at Chewton Glen is just the very best. I really did fall for the place. The previous owners and the new owner, a friend of theirs of old standing and aficionado of the hotel, have for a very long time collected every good idea from their extensive travel abroad and brought it home to Chewton Glen. This means that from the moment you arrive extraordinary care and attention is lavished but in a very unobtrusive way. They discreetly make sure you have anything you need without making you feel pestered. This is why they are Relais and Chateau members and keep winning so many awards. I do not like to be bothered in the task of relaxing and slipping away from work for a de-stressing break, so somewhere like this is ideal.
Lady: The hotel itself is deceptively large; you first come into the main hall with discreet reception area next to the little boutique with numerous gorgeous things you may not be able to do without, and it feels very much as though coming into a beautiful, chic, country house. Lovely hall and staircase, all very plush and elegant. Then the bar, reception rooms, dining rooms and corridors to the bedrooms seem to lead off discreetly with a bit of a rabbit warren feel, you don't know quite where you're coming out.
Lord: They do provide you with all manners of maps so you can find your way round with ease and this makes it fun to explore too. The hotel style was classical with many modern touches which suited my wife's tastes perfectly. I should mention at this juncture that it was our 10th wedding anniversary and so we had great expectations of the weekend or should I say my wife had great expectations which needed to be met.
Lady: We were gently guided through the stylish corridors to our beautiful suite, the Masterman Ready, where we found our luggage already safely installed in the wardrobe. Our room was gorgeous, tastefully and stylishly furnished in a classic modern style, with some nice pieces and lots of little touches that really made it special; there was a great terrace with sun loungers, sitting room with everything you would expect and more, bedroom (extremely comfy bed) and fantastic bathroom with large shower and bath, hundreds of thick towels, and little bottles of yummy things. Oh and did I mention three flat screen TVs and an unobtrusive state of the art Bang and Olufsen sound system. Every detail had been thought of, a personal welcome letter, bottles of water next to the bed (I always get thirsty in the middle of the night), right down to the stamped postcards ready for you. This is definitely what I had in mind for my anniversary treat, 24 hours is not going to be long enough.
Lord: The bedroom is surprisingly modern and yet melds flawlessly with the rest of the hotel decor, luxurious with everything you need to feel gloriously pampered. The bathroom was my personal favourite, a free standing bath on legs in the window, light tumbling through the blinds, a Catherine Deneuve film set, with to my wife's delight another flat screen television at one end. A large marble space with all the latest features, huge power showers and glass screens, it was kind of a mini Spa in its own right.
Finally dragging my wife away from the bathroom we decided to wander the grounds. We toured the house and as we did so the stress of work melted away. We really started to enjoy ourselves as we meandered over the golf course past the little ponds/lakes (how big does a body of water have to be to be judged a lake?) with fountains spraying up into the air. The Golf course is 9 holes and has a decorative landscape charm, that means playing it twice to get the 18 holes is a pleasure. We ambled over the road onto a forest path past trees and an apparent tree cave tunnel down to the beach.
Wonderful sea air and a big expansive beach with wind-surfers racing across the dark frothy waves at high speeds propelled by the offshore wind. Very envious of these locals with the sea and wind on their doorstep, the lake at Hyde Park gets very little wind and the park keepers disapprove of windsurfers.
We did the ice-cream parlour bit and then feeling very happy with the world we wandered up and down the beach admiring the view of the Needles over on the Isle of Wight and wishing we could stay the week.
Lady: Yes, a bit more time would have been nice as then we could have taken advantage of the Hotel's bikes (even children's ones are available to use) and explored the extensive and beautifully maintained grounds. In one of their brochures they tell you it takes 39 hours to mow all the lawns each week.But now it cannot wait any longer, time to go to the Spa, which I have heard great things about; having been to more than a few spas I am looking forward to see how it compares and if it lives up to its hype. Waiting on our bed are fluffy white dressing gowns and his and hers sized slippers folded beautifully with a spa brochure and flower tucked in, and so after a quick change we ambled happily down the corridor, though his Lordship is not totally convinced with wearing his dressing gown outside the room!
Lord: That's because a white robe and slippers in a crowded social environment is not a cool look, even Bond looked a complete nana in those. However I managed to feel very comfortable and relaxed as we headed for the pool. My wife glided serenely up and down the pool in the way that some women do, swimming without her head actually getting wet, like a swan, not a splash nor a ripple disturbed the water. Butterfly is the only way for a man to swim, water is supposed to splash, crawl is for long distance and not the pool. Though I did feel some sort of social responsibility and ended up swimming breastroke for some of it. Quick exercize fix for me and long leisurely swim for my wife and then we wandered over to the Hydro-therapy pool which I shall describe separately in the Spa section.
Lady: The pool is fantastic, columns and trompe l'oeil; lovely gentle breast stroke up and down while his lordship insisted on splashing messily up and down with his masculine but anti social butterfly. Then despite the temptation of reclining graciously on the loungers around the pool and perusing the many magazines and papers on offer, we decided to push on to the hydrotherapy pool in the Orangery. Gorgeous lighting and cloud painted cupola, heated benches and reclining loungers; we had a good giggle trying out the different areas in the pool, and admired the brave souls heading out to the outside whirlpool.
Sufficiently exercised and relaxed we padded back to our room and tried out all the lovely REN Bio Active goodies in the bathroom, and then collapsed in a sweet smelling heap in our sitting room; after a quick drink from the extremely well stocked mini bar we dressed for dinner and headed down to the Bar. Dinner an absolute pleasure, seriously good food, please see separate restaurant review.
Retired to our room, bed turned down, curtains drawn and lights dimmed as you'd expect, with a tray on the bed with the room service breakfast menu on (which we decided to take advantage of as the hour was rather late, so filled it in and hung it on our door), the Chewton Glen daily bulletin, weather forecast, places to visit, walk of the day, spa programme etc, for the next day and details of our spa appointments.
His Lordship has been booked for a facial which caused some amusement, but after all the champagne and red wine he entered into the spirit of things and declared it to be an experience that he was looking forward to.The next thing we know there is a telephone call to let us know our breakfast would be arriving shortly, Divine breakfast was consumed propped up in bed, his Lordship went healthy with muesli and fruit and I splashed out with scrambled egg and smoked salmon (yummy).
After a heavenly morning in the Spa, full details in the Spa review, we floated in an aromatic soft daze back to our room to pack up, check out time is midday, and headed down to reception to settle up. We were invited to continue to make full use of the Spa before we had to leave and so allowed ourselves to be ushered back to the calm and tranquillity there while our bags were quietly and efficiently removed from our room and put in our car.
Finally back to reception and with regret we headed off to our car (we had declined the offer of having it brought round to us, in favour of stretching our legs) its position in the car park helpfully mapped out on the label attached to the keys. So, with regret we got in, armed with printed instructions for London and two bottles of Hindon water for the journey which the lovely lady at reception had given us and our 24 hours at Chewton Glen were sadly at an end.
Lord: One of my regrets of only staying for the day was missing out on the croquet lawn, it was lovely and widely regarded as the best in the world, not a bad accolade. Also I love sailing and this is a fabulous place to get out and let the wind glide you across the water. They also do shooting and archery and I would have loved to have fletched an arrow or two.
A word on their organised events, they have interior decoration workshops, beauty tips, history lectures, cookery demonstrations and more, all with leading experts in their field, though these get rapidly booked up. They have a Conversation with Sir Trevor McDonald on the 18th but I'm afraid that is already booked too. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events that appeal to you.
Lady: Chewton Glen does the personal touch very well, from the staff and facilities down to the stamped postcards in your room. It is very well thought out and executed, the main aim is to relax you and look after you, and they do it superbly. It's worth spending some time here to make the most of everything they have on offer, but if you can only escape the pressures of life for 24 hours, you will still relax and feel taken care of the moment you hand over your car keys. Chewton Glen personifies discreet and gracious luxury, and is the ideal place for a celebration, (we did in fact see a wedding taking place there on the Saturday) or just as a luxurious retreat. So if anyone has a wedding anniversary coming up or just needs a bit of time out then I would urge you to stay at Chewton Glen.
Lord: It was without doubt the most perfect place to stay for our wedding anniversary and even after one day I was sad to leave, but it gave us some lovely memories and recharged our batteries for the coming winter. Lovely location, luxurious hotel, skilled friendly staff, excellent Spa, all the amenities and many activities which were genuinely interesting and well organised. Our highest recommendation.
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