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Located in Hampshire, the five-star, privately owned Chewton Glen promises a distinctive luxury experience for travelers to England. Since the late 1960s, this country house hotel and spa has been on many “best” lists, including a spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List this year.
I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful property with a friend last fall. Our vacation started out in traditional English fashion, with rain pouring down on everything in sight. Fortunately, we had booked a limo through Chewton Glen to make the hour and a half drive from Heathrow Airport to the hotel. We were quickly whisked away and, by the time we drove onto the 130-acre grounds, the sun was out and we were ready for our adventure.
The existing 18th-century house was remodeled in the 1890s and abuts the New Forest, which was designated as a hunting area by William the Conqueror in 1079. The country house’s rich history is readily apparent, especially in the bar with its dark wood, red drapery and leather arm chairs.
The newest addition to Chewton Glen is its collection of Treehouse Suites, which opened in 2012. The suites look like structures you’d find on safari in Africa — our treehouse sat high on stilts, completely removed from the hotel proper and overlooking the New Forest. A golf buggy chauffeured us to our suite.
Contemporary in design both inside and out, the treehouse suite had a different feel from the hotel, although the top-of-the-line fabrics came in traditional warm English colors such as tan, green and orange. Natural building materials included oak, stone from the nearby Jurassic Coast, zinc and copper.
The treehouse offered every convenience, including a kitchenette and a hot tub on the deck. There was patio furniture on the deck too, making it a lovely place to sit and enjoy a warm day with a view of the forest. For rainy days, the wood-burning fireplace offers a cozy alternative.
Sitting on 130 acres of countryside in Hampshire, Chewton Glen comprises a main hotel and 12 special Treehouse units. // © 2014 Chewton Glen
The lush grounds around the property provide idyllic scenery for taking long walks on a clear day. // © 2014 Chewton Glen
The spa at Chewton Glen features a Roman-style, ozone-treated pool. // © 2014 Chewton Glen
The Treehouses at Chewton Glen are separate from the rest of the property and include special amenities exclusive to Treehouse guests. // © 2014 Chewton Glen
The Treehouse suites are lifted up on stilts to provide stunning views above the treeline. // © 2014 Chewton Glen
Treehouse suites are outfitted with a variety of luxuries, including a fireplace, a hot tub and breakfast delivery every morning. // © 2014 Chewton Glen
Eat and Drink
While we slept soundly, at 7:30 am breakfast was delivered daily and we awoke to a feast of smoked salmon, assorted breads, muesli and fresh fruit. There was a high-tech coffee maker in the room to make regular coffee or a cappuccino.
In the evening, we summoned the buggy to take us to dinner at the hotel’s main restaurant, Vetiver, a popular spot with locals. Vetiver specializes in local foods, and the executive head chef, Luke Matthews, uses game from the New Forest as well as local fruit, vegetables and seafood. Taking advantage of the local offerings, I had grouse for dinner and my companion enjoyed the halibut.
What to Do
Chewton Glen is an ideal retreat for a quiet, relaxing vacation, but the area also offers a variety of low-key activities.
After breakfast, we enjoyed taking the 20-minute walk to the beach and then strolling through the extensive, lush grounds.
For an afternoon indulgence, guests can head to the spa for Linda Meredith facials and a quick lunch in the spa restaurant, which serves organic salads. The Romanesque, ozone-treated indoor swimming pool here is an attraction in itself.
Other possible excursions include walks through the New Forest, a visit to the Jurassic Coast or exploring nearby towns and villages. There are also many activities offered by the hotel, including clay pigeon shooting, tennis, croquet and golf, among others.