It’s been voted ‘Best Hotel in the British Isles’ and the traditional British restaurant has garnered numerous awards, but don’t let that sway you – Chewton Glen has to be experienced personally to be enjoyed properly. With a staff-to-guest ratio of two-to-one, it’s impossible not to feel like pampered royalty at this world-renowned boutique hotel in Hampshire. Combining the old-school elegance of the Jeeves & Wooster era with a style-sharp modern sensibility (treehouse suite, anyone?), this hotel, spa, restaurant and country club is as seductive as it is suave.
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A half-bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates a stay
Noon. Later check-out can be arranged, subject to availability and a charge.
Double rooms from $543.67 (£394), including tax at 5 per cent.
Continental (£24.50 a person) or Full English breakfast (£29.50 a person) are not included in the room rate.
Pick up some skills in the Kitchen’s Cookery School; your day will start with coffee, freshly-baked pastries and a stroll around the gardens, before you settle into your cooking workstation. Learn the how-to’s of bread-baking, crafting seasonal treats, cooking up impressive dinner-party fare and more. There’s even chocolate-crafting, celebrity chef courses, and classes especially for aspiring young chefs. Most courses run all day, and prices start from £185 (including refreshments, lunch, all equipment and ingredients).
Request a contemporary room: we love the gorgeous Masterman Ready Suite with its artful combinations of antique and contemporary furniture and the panoramic garden views from the sun terrace. Room 21 – the Poachers Suite – is a refined classic-contemporary master suite with a private study, dressing room, pretty bronze mosaic tiles in the bathroom and slick double walk-in shower, as well as a wall-mounted bathroom TV. Or, take your holiday to new heights in one of the treehouse suites: accessed by a gangplank, the circular Loft Suites seemingly float, high the forest canopy. Admire foliage-framed views of the grounds from your hot tub on the hardwood private deck. These 85–87 sq m circular suites sleep two adults and up to four children in a double bedroom and galleried bunk area. Floor-to-ceiling windows let the light and views flood in, and the carpeted bedroom, wood-burning stove and underfloor heating ensure suites stay cosy. A large, freestanding bath with forest views steals the show in the marble-floored ensuite, and daily breakfast hampers are delivered to your door. Regular shuttles can transport you the 200–400m to and from the main hotel.
With heated pools indoors and out, as well as Europe’s largest hydrotherapy pool in the spa, Chewton Glen is ideal for aquatic lounging. The large ozone-treated indoor pool, with its soft-blue sky-painted ceiling, offers great views of the gardens.
The spa is just minutes from the seaside and channels the coastal calm. Inside, there’s a 17-metre swimming pool, a hydrotherapy spa pool, cold drench showers, aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms; there’s also an outdoor whirlpool. Face and body treatments include a range of soothing massages, including classic Swedish and hot stone massage; there are also body treatments, including full-body scrubs and holistic Kundalini and aromatherapy treatments. You can also book pampering for two in one of the spa’s double treatment rooms.
Beach towels and swimwear – the sea is only a short, countryside stroll away so pack a picnic and make an afternoon of it.
Call in advance if you intend to arrive via helicopter – there's only room for three on the helipad.
All ages are welcome. Under-5s stay free; children aged six to 16 stay on a sofabed or extra bed for £20 a night; each extra adult (aged 17 or over) stays for £60 a night. Babysitting can be arranged and there’s a Playstation and a cupboard of games.
There's plenty to keep children occupied, with indoor and outdoor play areas, a dedicated children's club and a host of child-friendly activities – both on and off site.
Extra beds can be added for an additional cost (it's slightly more expensive outside school holidays). Contact the travel team for details.
Chewton Glen's children's club keeps littles entertained with supervised fun activities – including painting, puzzles, story-time, toys, games and more – in the mornings and afternoons, every weekend and during the school holidays. Pre-booking is essential since sessions fill up quickly. Family-friendly activities abound; take a walk (or a pony trek) around the New Forest or make your way to the nearby seaside, for a spot of splashing in the surf and picnics on the beach. There's also an onsite outdoor play area and a Bug Hotel. Nature-loving littles may also enjoy nearby Marwell Zoo or the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Conservation Park.
Children are welcome into the indoor pool every day from 9am to 10.30am and from 4pm to 5.30pm. Families are also welcome to use the heated outdoor pool all day, from March through October.
There's all-day family-friendly dining, with a children's menu and a lounge menu available throughout the day, and a 24-hour room service menu with a selection of drinks and light bites. During school holidays, a children's buffet supper (£10 a child, free for under-fives) is served in The Lake Suite from 6pm to 7pm.
A private dining table in the Wine Room; a lime-green horseshoe banquette in Oak End; or a window seat in the Summer House conservatory, so you can marvel at the extensive manicured gardens and revel in a New Forest sunset.
Gents in jackets; ladies in lace.
Chewton's gorgeously grown-up five-roomed gastrodome (aka the Dining Room) has a cosmopolitan menu serving guests whatever, whenever; whether you fancy a casual brunch or five-course, wine-matched tasting menu, it's all seasonally themed and skilfully produced by chef Luke Matthews and his brigade. For informal, à la carte dining, make your way over to the open-plan Kitchen, where you can watch the chefs at work creating wood-fired pizzas, gourmet burgers, superfood salads and more.
A burgundy-walled, leather-armchaired, gentleman’s club of a hidey-hole, the hotel’s bar is the definitive brandy-and-cigars den (except it’s non-smoking these days; just the brandy, then).
Last orders in Tinkers are 10pm. The bar offers food, drink and good cheer until there’s no one left to enjoy them.
Meals, snacks and drinks are available to enjoy in-room 24 hours a day.
In New Milton, on the edge of the New Forest, Chewton Glen sits on the coast between Bournemouth and Southampton.
The closest international airport is Bournemouth, eight miles (a 20-minute drive) away. Southampton Airport is 22 miles away. Chewton Glen is 85 miles from London Heathrow and 90 miles from Gatwick (approximately two hours' drive each).
From London Waterloo, South West Trains (www.southwesttrains.co.uk) runs a direct service that will get you to New Milton station in an hour and 50 minutes. Jump in a cab and it's a short drive to the hotel.
The nearest motorways are the M3 and M27, and Chewton Glen is around two hours from London. If you’re not bringing your own wheels, the hotel offers both a chauffeur-driven service and vintage-car hire.
There are two helipads at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
For traditional English country pursuits, you've come to the right place. Guests at Chewton Glen can partake in clay-pigeon shooting and archery in the hotel's sprawling grounds, as well as hands-on falconry, duck herding and gun-dog handling. To see more of the grounds and the surrounding New Forest, try a treasure hunt, cycle tour or Apache buggy racing. As well as the hefty catalogue of activities that Chewton Glen can arrange onsite, the hotel can also organise shooting, fishing and sailing jaunts. You can take to the water at Lymington, 15 minutes from Chewtown Glen: the hotel's staff can arrange powerboat or sailing trips, adrenaline-pumping catamaran rides and luxury-yacht charters.
TheBeachcomberCafé in Barton-on-Sea is a sweet seaside family-run affair serving decent, honest home-cooked food (as well as scrummy Marshwood Vale ice-cream from the parlour next door).
OK, I admit it – I didn’t even try not to fall in love. Gliding down Chewton Glen’s luxuriously long drive we caught our first heady glimpse across the beautiful lawns and knew we were in for a seriously good time. That mixture of five-star elegance, country-club atmosphere and edge-of-the-New-Forest setting was a formula I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist. Even so, I don’t think either of us expected to fall quite so head over heels with this boutique hotel in Hampshire.
Our weekend hideaway – an inviting amalgam of courtyard, flowers and warm brickwork –doesn’t seem overly imposing from the main entrance. But the second we step inside, we realise we are somewhere very special.
Chewton Glen is an 18th-century beautiful beast – and, with its refined air and formal elegance, it can’t help but exude that very particular type of Englishness that makes you wish you knew all the words to the national anthem. But this place is far too well bred to be stuffy or pretentious.
Post-check in, we pop along to the bar while we wait for our room. It’s very red, very plush and very clubby – with many ancient editions lining the wall (Captain Marryat wrote The Children of the New Forest while staying here). Such masculine, old school surroundings automatically make you feel that a stiff drink is in order. Gazing over the pristine lawn, we promise ourselves that as soon as we’ve dealt with our vodka tonics, we’ll have a game of croquet. The trouble is, the seemingly innocent squishy sofa swallows us up, and the damn thing holds us captive for two hours. There we are forced to remain; swapping stories about losing our virginity (I can’t believe that hasn’t come up until now), drinking more V&Ts to stave off dehydration – and very definitely not playing croquet.
The decor at this Hampshire boutique hotel may be traditional, but it’s freshened up with contemporary lighting, big, bold flower displays and acid-coloured cushions resting on delightfully upholstered armchairs (an effect so potent that one starts saying things like ‘delightfully upholstered armchairs’ quite unselfconsciously).
The front-of-house staff are unfailingly polite, but also rather quirky; as I swap my stilettos for flats, an older porter nods in sympathy and sighs that it is, indeed, hard work being stylish. When we finally get to our room, we question the wisdom of spending so much time out of it. It’s stunning. The bed is bigger than my whole bedroom at home, the secluded balcony has the most incredible view, the carpet is toe-sinkingly thick, and there’s a whole wall of mirrored wardrobes. This is pure, understated sumptuousness.
If this hotel is English with a capital E, then our bathroom is pure Americana. Bad-ass-MTV-pimp-my-crib-hip-hop-sextastic Americana, to be precise. It’s huge: nearly as big as the bedroom. There’s a party-sized shower, a TV in the wall, and a glut of Molton Brown goodies. Accompanied by a bottle of champagne, we watch music videos from our huge tub until both types of bubbles have disappeared.
We return from our naked state back into clothes, just in time for dinner. There’s something unnervingly sexy about country hotels of a certain standard who still request (politely) jackets for dinner. Mr Smith obliges, and so to the restaurant we head. Supper is worth dressing up for. On arrival we’re given the most delicious amuse-bouche (plump for the avocado morsels) before I polish off a succulent asparagus and artichoke salad, followed by pumpkin tortellini. Mr Smith is in some kind of lamb heaven; it’s so mouth-wateringly rich that he tries to tempt me out of 20 years of vegetarianism. I nearly give in. This is the type of dinner that makes you smile when you think about it afterwards.
At breakfast the next day, an old man at the table behind us booms away in the kind of voice that suggests he was once a ‘somebody’ in the army. He resolutely declares ‘this is the best toast I’ve ever had’. Quite. Many lazy hours later we take the woodland walk down through the hotel grounds to the beach, where we are confronted with another particularly English combination: sunburnt skin, too-tight swimwear and a retro ice-cream van.
We take our sticky mint choc-chip hands for a walk along the front to Barton on Sea and soon stumble across a cliff-top restaurant called the Beachcomber. They may not request a dinner jacket, but they do provide satisfying chip butties and chardonnay. Returning to the beach, we find a quiet spot and drift into a sea-induced slumber on the pebbles, joining the ranks of the slightly sunburnt ourselves.
This weekend has turned into a total food and wine fest – and indeed later that evening back at Chewton Glen, we find Richard, aka 'The Best Barman In The World'. (He’s got to be happy with that title, surely?) Discreet, passionate about his job and great company, he regales us with tales of old regulars, such as the male guest who lent a fledgling businesswoman four grand in return for half a per cent of her profits. She turned out to be the late Anita Roddick. He became rich enough to live six months of the year at Chewton Glen.
We couldn’t bolt from our boutique bolthole without pampering our souls at the spa. We laze around in the outdoor pool, loving the fact that waiters will hand you a glass of whatever you fancy without you even leaving the water. There’s an indoor pool, an outdoor Jacuzzi, a hydrotherapy spa pool with a high-tech make-any-kind-of-bubbles machine, saunas, steam rooms – and an exhaustive range of health and beauty treatments should you feel the need. I end up pleading with Mr Smith to get very rich, very quickly so that I can become a professional spa wife.
The hands on the clock do something peculiar at Chewton Glen: time disappears way too quickly. Tragically, it is soon time to leave – but not before every member of staff we pass has made sure we’ve had a lovely time. Gloriously romantic, this is a hotel I have been deprived of until this weekend. Now all I have to do is persuade Mr Smith to re-pack his dinner jacket and make a return visit soon.