Calling all historic hotel lovers, as well as Jane Austen junkies: handsome, heritage-filled Heckfield Place is in the author’s Hampshire heartland. With its own organic farm, landscaped gardens and woods, the 400-acre estate gives Pemberley a run for its shilling and pence. Acclaimed chef Skye Gyngell is manning the kitchens (and the open fire at Hearth), there’s a £250 cocktail on sale in the Moon Bar and a super spa is incoming for 2019. This Georgian manor has been reimagined for the modern country squire – it’s time to dig out those tweeds.
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A bottle of Coates & Seely pink sparkling Hampshire wine
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability and an additional charge. Earliest check-in, 3pm also flexible for a fee.
Double rooms from $383.75 (£292), excluding tax at 20 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of 10% per room per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast but exclude a 10 per cent discretionary tax.
The Assembly is a year-round programme of events at the hotel with a different topic each month. Most take place in the subterranean 45-seat screening room, which, helpfully, has its own bar; some events are held in the woodlands or at the farm, and others take the shape of a dinner or a talk in the drawing room.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, cinema, gym, valet parking, gardens, farm. In rooms: Apple TV, iPad, iPod dock, Bang & Olufsen speakers and phones, free bottled water, minibar with house-made cordial and ginger beer, free non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, air-conditioning and Wildsmith Skin bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The rooms are split between the main house and the Corridors, but there’s no annexe or extension feel, thanks to the Ilse Crawford protégé behind the impeccable design, Ben Thompson. We loved room 15, a Master in the Corridors, for its double French doors that lead out to a cosy terrace and the walled gardens – a shiny box of boules is helpfully provided. For maximum preening potential, book the Ochre Room, which has a bathroom bigger than the bedroom and a slate-grey roll-top bath tub. The minibars, with Skye Gyngell-approved snacks and house-made soft drinks, are definitely worth a rummage.
An infinity pool is planned as part of next year’s spa unveiling.
In the five treatment rooms at the Little Bothy Spa, the emphasis in on bespoke massages and facials that use ethically-sourced, all-natural products from the hotel’s own Wildsmith Skin range (named after the former head gardener, William Wildsmith), bountiful in nutrient-rich botanicals. There are more spa secrets up their sleeve, though – the Big Bothy spa is in the works for next year. Fitness devotees who flock to Bodyism's famous Notting Hill classes can keep up their routines – Bodyism's first-class personal trainers are on hand here for exercise inspiration, regular yoga and Pilates classes as well as nutritional advice.
Embrace the Great British countryside in style: bring smart tweeds, classic checks, waxy Barbours and weathered Dubarry boots to fit in.
The hotel has three rooms that have been adapted for wheelchair users, and there’s a lift to access all of the floors, including the underground screening room.
Furry friends stay for a one-off fee of £35; dog beds, bowls and treats can be provided (the hotel will need your dog's name, size and breed in advance). Dog-friendly rooms are very limited, so you'll need to request one at the time of booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Hampshire.
Welcome, but only over-16s can stay in the main-house rooms. Cots (free) and extra beds (free for under-fours, £100 a night for 4–16-year-olds) can be added to the Chamber and Master rooms. Children are welcome in Marle, but there’s no special menu.
The hotel has ambitious plans to up its already impressive eco-cred. In addition to the on-site biodynamic farm supplying much of the kitchen produce, upcoming glass-blowing centre and use of clean energy and locally made bath products, Heckfield’s planning to replace all plastic bottles with aluminium receptacles. Even the glass and ceramic containers in the minibar are from local suppliers.
In the cosy corner nook of the terrace closest to the dining room, which is lined by floor-to-ceiling glass windows on both sides so you can admire the acreage. In Hearth, pull up a pew as close to the kitchen as your body temperature can handle.
Corsets and curls are optional.
Skye Gyngell is at the helm of Heckfield's restaurants. Marle is so in tune with nature that it’s named after a particularly fertile type of soil, and if an ingredient on the menu hasn’t come from the estate’s own farm, orchard or gardens, it’ll be from a hyper-local supplier (self-sustainability is the estate’s aim). Enjoy dishes such as turbot with béarnaise, and some star sides – don’t miss the crispy potatoes with black garlic. Those who struggle to control themselves when confronted with a breakfast buffet will be pleased to hear that the morning menu is entirely à la carte; expect options such as buckwheat pancakes with plum jam and whipped butter, tea-smoked eel with poached eggs, beetroot, carrot and fennel, and bubble and squeak with a fried egg and kasundi. The second restaurant, Hearth – in a former stable with arched windows, flagstone floors, exposed bricks, sheepskin-draped Ercol chairs and beamed ceilings – is only open to Heckfield residents, on certain nights of the week. The five-course flame-grilled tasting menu is cooked before you on an open fire.
Seasonal restaurant the Sun House is in a light-flooded glasshouse that hugs the walls of the estate’s upper walled garden. Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer, it showcases the estate’s first-rate vegetables, fruits and herbs, all grown on Heckfield’s biodynamic farm and plucked from the soil at the most opportune moment. Lunch will be an informal affair of seasonal small plates; the five-course dinner will be a little dressier, with cut flowers perfuming the night air and braziers and candles washing the restaurant in soft, warm light.
The Moon Bar has an aptly after-dark atmosphere (whatever the time of day), with midnight-blue walls, leather seats, a marble fireplace and a giant disco ball. Even the menu has a laser-cutwork cover of the constellation that was shining the night the hotel opened. The cocktail list includes a £250 combination of 40-year-old cognac, champagne and Moon Perfume, a special essence made with flowers from the gardens. There’s also a 1,200-bottle-strong cellar.
Breakfast is served from 7am until 11am, lunch from noon till 3pm, dinner from 5.30pm to 10pm. Hearth is open for lunch (noon to 3pm) and dinner (6pm to 9pm) on Fridays and Saturdays. The Sun House serves lunch from noon to 3pm and dinner fro 6-9pm.
Breakfast can be served in-room between 7am and 11am. An all-day menu is available from 11am until 11pm, when a smaller overnight selection kicks in.
Heckfield Place is in the Hampshire countryside, west of London and near Hook.
London Heathrow is 40 miles away; the drive should take around 45 minutes, and the hotel can fetch you for £165 each way. The drive to and from Gatwick is just over an hour; transfers are £244 each way.
The closest station is Winchfield, which can be reached from London Waterloo via a quick change in Farnborough. Otherwise, hop one of the speedy 25-minute services from London Paddington to Reading and jump in a cab. Transfers from Winchfield cost £25 each way.
The hotel is a 20-minute drive south of Reading. There’s free valet parking when you arrive, but the car park’s only 100 yards away if you’d rather do it yourself. The drive along the M4 from central London should take around an hour and 15 minutes. If you want to explore the certified-beautiful surroundings, a car will come in handy; otherwise, rely on the hotel’s fleet of chauffeur-driven Land Rovers.
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you’ve orienteered over the 400 acres (which include boat-trip-ready lakes, woods, a river and farmland), picnicked at one of the estate’s follies and settled into the Little Bothy spa, the Hampshire heartland awaits. The hotel can arrange tours of the farm, taking in the orchards, hives and kitchen garden, fly-fishing, bouquet-making classes and a recce of the grounds with the head gardener. This is the Great British countryside at its finest, with the activities to match: ride horses at the neighbouring Wellington Estate, play golf at Hartley Wintney or ask the hotel to facilitate a few rounds of clay-pigeon shooting. If your borrowed home for the night has got you feeling ducal, head to Wellington Country Park to compare acreage. The 350-acre estate was opened to the public by the namesake Duke and Duchess in 1974.
Jostle the locals for a prime beer-garden perch at the Leather Bottle in Mattingley, or head to the Phoenix Inn if you’ve just finished a round of golf at nearby Hartley Wintney. A 15-minute drive away, The Hoggetis a family-run pub with guest ales, daily specials, a seasonal menu – and the best pork scratchings around. For something formal and fancy, try L’Ortolan, a Michelin-approved restaurant just outside of Reading.
Heckfield’s Moon Bar wins the local cocktail competition, but for a good old-fashioned pint, drive to the Waggon and Horses pub in the next village along, Hartley Wintney.
As our car wound into Heckfield Place’s driveway to reveal a breathtaking red-brick Georgian country home, surrounded in swathes and swathes (400 acres to be precise) of meadows and woodland, I have to remind myself that in the same time it took me to reach quintessential rural English paradise, most Londoners do their morning commute on the tube.
The hotel is divided into two parts – the main house, which has been lovingly preserved and is exceptionally grand, with panelling, fireplaces, cornicing, a sweeping staircase and ceilings that feel high enough to house elephants. The décor is a stylish blend of classic design with a modern twist – colour schemes are mostly neutral and elegant, textiles are warm and traditional. Modern furniture, light fixtures and art contrast with beautiful portraiture that nods to the history of the house and surrounding land – there is a particularly beautiful portrait that hangs called Jane Austen in Hampshire.
The interior choices are also charmingly thoughtful. For example, the morning room – full of books, board-games, newspapers and capacious, squishy sofas – is positioned in the side of the house that catches the daytime light. The moon bar, however, with its sumptuous dark walls and intimate layout, is designed to catch the light of the moon and stars while guests enjoy an evening cocktail.
The second part of the hotel is a new building, also in red brick. It blends seamlessly into the bones of the original building. Its pistachio panelled corridors house most of the hotel rooms and the Little Bothy spa. My room is enormous – comfortable, light and airy with its own sitting room area, walk-in wardrobe (complete with wellies for guests), roll-top bath, walk-in shower and French doors that lead out to a pretty communal courtyard.
The décor is, again, understated, homely, calming, warm and elegant – filled with rugs, baskets and dried hanging flowers and indoor plants. It’s also impressively state-of-the-art, with a pull-out miniature hotplate in the minibar that boils a small kettle for hot drinks, and a lighting scheme that can be turned up or down to bright, ambient or dim.
The surrounding land (and farm, where ingredients are sourced for the restaurant – the home-reared bacon at breakfast is particularly mind-blowing) is expansive, sprawling and verdant. A circular walk around the grounds, traversing woodland, lakes and a pond replete with its own fountain, is a must. The main house looks even more beautiful – and even more grand – when you see it from a distance, nestled in its lush surroundings.
It is rare that a luxury hotel’s food is as spectacular as its setting, but Heckfield Place offers the best hotel dining I’ve ever experienced. There are two restaurants: Marle, which is open both to guests and visitors, where breakfast, lunch and dinner is served; and Hearth, a converted stable space that serves a very special set-menu tasting dinner just for guests, where food is cooked on an open fire (it’s an intimate and unique space only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so pre-booking is essential).
Both menus are designed by Skye Gyngell, a chef renowned for her impeccable taste and innovative combinations. I don’t have one disappointing mouthful over six multi-coursed meals in the restaurants. A stand-out dish was the pillow-soft gnudi in a velvety sauce of butter and orange zest. But even a breakfast as simple as soft-boiled eggs and bacon is sublime (the rich, dark, crumbly rye bread spread thickly with butter is, as well, a culinary highlight).
The service at Heckfield place is meticulously attentive – staff are alert, charming and perceptive. During my stay, I make use of the stunning private cinema (complete with gorgeous, tan leather mid-century seating) when there is a screening of a film and, even though it is just my travel partner and me in the screening room, they go out of their way to serve drinks and make us feel comfortable – it is my favourite experience of the stay. If you prefer a more relaxed hands-off service when you’re in a hotel, you may find the Heckfield style too omnipresent, but if you like feeling looked after, you will love the care staff take to make you feel at home.
All in all, this was a deeply relaxing, celestially serene, luxurious, stylish hotel experience and the perfect weekend getaway in the English countryside.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Heckfield Place’s Guestbook below.
The sincere friendliness of the staff - there was a very homely feel to the place. The rooms were well appointed and comfortable and there is some good quality art from the owners' collection adorning the walls. There were fresh flowers from the garden everywhere - wonderful! The food was excellent - fresh vegetables, fruit and eggs from the farm. The grounds were lovely for a stroll, though I'm not sure I fancy a dip in the swimming lake - a bit too 'natural' for me!
Plastic - the establishment has made a great effort to eliminate single use plastic. In fact, there is very little plastic anywhere.
Stayed on 5 Sep 2019
The attention to detail. The whole place is incredibly luxurious but not ostentatious. The staff are super friendly and are willing to help out with any request. We wanted to see the wine cellar so they arranged a little tour with the sommelier. The best part – cocktails and board games until late at night!
A cheap trip. It's London prices but in Hampshire.
Stayed on 2 Aug 2019
Dinner in the Sun House was amazing – it's inside a pretty greenhouse in the stunning walled garden and is so romantic! The food was delicious. We stayed in a chamber room (one night), and a master room (two nights) – both are lovely, but we especially liked the private terrace of the master room. The beds are super comfortable.
Much to do in the local area or alternative dining options. The Marle restaurant was the only option from Monday to Thursday and lacked a little atmosphere because it was so quiet. Our chamber room did not have a full length mirror or anywhere to plug in a hairdryer near a mirror.
Stayed on 20 Jul 2019
Another wonderful trip to our favourite country house hotel. We loved the welcoming feel of the place, the decor, the food, and the spa.
Don't expect vegan delights. The menu is full of vegetable dishes, but mostly paired with dairy.
Stayed on 14 Jul 2019
We visited Heckfield Place with our grown up kids and their partners for just a single night and dinner in the Marle restaurant. The occasion was a special birthday and the intention was to experience out-of-the-ordinary spoiling and relaxation with great food. Our visit did not disappoint on any level. The rooms are beautifully put together with everything one could want or need at one's fingertips. The Guest Rooms each feel like a small suite, with areas to sit, sleep and bathe in complete luxury. The perfectly formed minibar with innovative kettle was just such a lovely touch and full of treats, many of which were complimentary. No espresso machine here, but all the beautifully designed components required to make a slow drip coffee to perfection. All the public areas of the hotel and grounds were perfect in every way too, with freedom to wander around Home Farm and see where your lunch has been grown. Suffice to say that we, as a couple, have booked to return for several nights in the near future. I'm counting the days!
a) Pizazz! Everything here is low key, quiet and calm. Meals are unhurried, long affairs. b) Vegan delights! It was a little disappointing to find that, with two weeks notice that one of our party was a vegan, no additional options had been offered. The dinner menu had no truly vegan offerings and my daughter-in law was offered 'this, without the sauce' and 'that, without the creme fraiche'. The menus did not include any signifiers for allergens or dietary requirements, so one had to ask, but the staff were very knowledgeable which was, of course, a help.
Stayed on 28 Jun 2019
We felt really relaxed, at ease and special the minute we pulled up outside. This is a real gem and we can't wait to return! The room was gorgeous - spacious, with the most comfortable bed I've slept in in a long time. The grounds are fabulous for walks and exploring, there is delicious food on the menu and the afternoon tea is a lovely additional touch. We had excellent service and I thoroughly enjoyed my treatment in the wonderful Little Botha Spa. Once the big spa and pool is completed this is sure to be a ten out of ten hotel.
Lively evenings or child friendly common space, although outside will of course be suitable to explore with little ones.
Stayed on 9 Jun 2019
I booked Heckfield Place for my husband's birthday. This is a house that you are encouraged to think of as a 'home from home'. The attention to detail in every bit of the stunning decor is so apparent and there are pieces of original artwork and photography everywhere! Our room had a spacious bathroom and lounge area – a sense of luxury abounds in the tastefulness of everything. The sun miraculously made an appearance in the late afternoon and we went for a walk clad in Hunter wellies and waterproof coats which are available to borrow from the hotel – the grounds are simply breathtaking. There were a nice variety of dishes on the menu in Marle – many of the ingredients come from the farm/gardens - and the service is excellent. All in all, an outstanding stay from start to finish.
To be disappointed!
Stayed on 9 May 2019
The beautiful grounds, the size of the bedrooms (even the smallest) and the little extra touches, like the raffia slippers in the rooms.
Stayed on 20 Apr 2019
Our room - it was fabulous! I was a little nervous as I'd booked the smallest room available, but that clearly doesnt mean small in Heckfield terms - there was plenty of space including a sofa, small table with chairs, very large bathroom and a lot of wardrobe space. There were so many lovely features in the room, such as the mini bar with complimentary mixers and homemade cordials for you to concoct your own cocktails, as well as complimentary macarons, biscuits etc. The grounds of Heckfield Place are also gorgeous - we took a walk for about an hour/hour and a half down by the lakes and down to Heckfield's own working farm with chickens, pigs and a whole host of fruits and veggies being grown. The team were incredible helpful and knowledgeable and the whole experience was just spot on!
Crazy nights - although the bar is fantastic and the staff will create whatever your heart desires!
Stayed on 19 Apr 2019
The attention to detail and decor were exceptional. Service was very good and the food was very good quality.
A huge choice of alternative dining choices.
Stayed on 12 Apr 2019
The attention to detail at this hotel is the most thorough I have ever experienced; it was perfect in every way. We dined at the main restaurant Marle for lunch - beautiful view, superb food, excellent service. For dinner we went to Hearth. Here, your food is cooked on an open fire; I am still thinking about one of the courses now, it was just that good. I've also come away with a new favourite wine. We got the basic "Friends" room which, in any other hotel, would be a much higher grade of room; sky and Apple TV, an extremely comprehensive, (mostly) complimentary mini-bar with some of the best coffee I've ever had (Allpress) and a small living area and outdoor terrace. The bed was like being in a cloud and I discovered Ploh bathrobes which have promptly made their way onto my Christmas list - make sure the first thing you do when enter the room is wrap yourself in it, I promise it will elevate you to a new state of bliss. The shower was also amazing and the bath products superb. Make sure you have a stroll around the grounds, very peaceful and lots of hidden areas to discover. Also have a cocktail in Moon Bar, I almost fell off my bar stool as the first cocktail on the list was 250. Don't worry, after that the prices go back to (the high side of) normal! We had four cocktails between us and every one was unusual and totally delicious. I could carry on, but I'm sure you get the picture, absolutely bang on stay. Really want to go back....
Lots of kids, any noise or anything that could be perceived as a negative in any way.
Stayed on 23 Mar 2019
The friendly nature of all the staff including the General Manager wishing us farewell as we left as the delightful black Labrador played on the lawn. The room was simply stunning, albeit the fire door upstairs created a little noise – Room 19 Walking in the grounds and the amazing gardens, greenhouse and walled garden.
Noise – it's quiet!
Stayed on 23 Feb 2019
A warm welcome from Olivia, the General Manager and her great team. Beautiful house with its wonderful interiors, artwork, floral (arborial) displays and immaculate, extensive grounds. Stunning rooms and bathrooms. So lovely to wander through the gardens, around the estate, past the lake and to the farm back, then to have lunch on a blanket on the lawns – in the sunshine in February!
Eating choices for vegetarians and vegans – they're very limited.
Stayed on 23 Feb 2019
Everything – the house team were incredible all around. The grounds are stunning, complete with the houses own farm. The rooms are well appointed and felt cosy despite their generous size.
Wild parties. HP is more of a (luxe) home away from home.