Tucked away in England’s idyllic New Forest, Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa is the perfect location to relax, explore and reconnect with nature.
It’s the shard of winter sun breaking through a crack in the curtains that eventually wakes me. Opening them, a view of rugged woodland, still glistening with frost, unfolds below. A lone partridge frantically darts between the bushes – an irate robin bobs between bare branches.
The setting for this fairy tale? Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa, on the edge of the New Forest National Park in Hampshire, England. Tucked in bed, enveloped by the cozy confines one of their Treehouse Lofts. Suspended 35 feet above the forest floor, each of these 14 magical suites is the ultimate woodland hideaway. Including an outdoor hot tub, ideal for stargazing, a roaring woodstove for snug evenings in, and a wrap-around balcony fit for al fresco dining during the summer months.
Knock-knock. We woke to the sound of a breakfast hamper of freshly baked bread and pastries, juices, local yogurts, seasonal fruits, granola, and homemade jams and honey (sourced from Chewton Glen’s very own hives) delivered right to our front door. Simply pop the kettle on et voilà – breakfast is ready. In fact, most of the food at Chewton can be found at your doorstep (within 100 yards, to be exact), as much of their produce is grown in their organic kitchen garden, pollinated by their five million resident bees; that which cannot be is sourced from local suppliers.
Utilizing the best British ingredients, head chef Simon Addison has created an unfussy, yet unequivocally gourmet, fine-dining menu. As homage to the home counties, courses include south coast scallops, partridge cooked to perfection, and some of the best slow-cooked beef I’ve ever tasted. Though it’s not all haute cuisine. Simpler fare is served at The Kitchen, also the setting for Chewton Glen’s daily cookery courses, where guests can learn how to make some of their delicious seeded bread or pastries from scratch.
Anywhere else, you’d be tempted to enter this forest retreat and never leave, but Chewton Glen’s ivy-clad main house boasts an award-winning spa, including Europe’s largest hydrotherapy pool, an ozone-treated pool, aromatherapy saunas, and crystal steam rooms –and a treatment list so exhaustive you’d need weeks to work your way through it.
Making the most of this particularly crisp winter’s morning, we set off for Naish Beach – a fifteen-minute woodland stroll, unfurling its way towards the Hampshire coastline. Just turned 9 o’clock, there were already surfers and paddle-boarders braving the English seas (better them than me).
Just a couple of the outdoor activities available in and around Chewton: Guests can choose between tennis and archery, buggy rides and duck herding (which looks as fun as it sounds), while little ones can engross themselves in ‘The Beehive,’ a miniature treehouse for miniature people.
All are welcome. And with a staff-to-guest ratio of two-to-one, you know you're in good hands. Loft suites are large enough for a family of six; Studio suites are perfect for a romantic getaway. Plus, all of the treehouses are dog-friendly – so you can bring Fido along, too. The pièce de résistance? The newly opened Yews, which includes not one but two outdoor hot tubs.
A place to reconnect with nature, to escape amidst the trees, Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa provides a respite from the concrete jungle of modern-day living. It’s one of the few places you can enjoy the wildness of the woods, while still being just a short stroll (or buggy ride, if you’re feeling lazy) from five-star facilities and world-class dining.
One-hundred-and-thirty acres of manicured gardens and unkempt forest, moments from the wild ponies for which the New Forest is famed, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more romantic, more family-friendly, more idiosyncratic stay on the British Isles. And, quite frankly, you wouldn’t want to.