Once clocking up a fair few air miles each year, the duties of having a new puppy mean that plane travel has been put on the backburner for a few months at least. Enter the age of the staycation; the chance to explore more of what’s on my doorstep, trading the clouds for tarmac. One destination that has enchanted me for a few years now, but somewhere I knew very little about, was the New Forest deep on the south coast of Hampshire. Just two hours’ drive from London, we decided to explore one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in England. Our destination for the evening: the decadence of Chewton Glen.
A five-star hotel and spa nestled in the heart of the New Forest, Chewton Glen has become synonymous with luxury over the years. We were lucky enough to stay in one of the Tree House Loft Suites for the night; a palatial wooden structure with all of the home comforts (and more) overlooking the tree canopy that occupied the rear of the suite. Needless to say, the suite was absolutely incredible. Sure, I could talk about the hot tub on the balcony, huge bath or the finishing touches on the décor, but it was the sense of seclusion and self-sufficiency that made this Loft Suite really feel like a home. Opening up the huge glass doors to our own private balcony, it was a feeling of being in the New Forest rather than just being near it.
After a few hours enjoying the complimentary champagne and chocolates, it was time to head out for dinner. On site, The Kitchen is an institute in its own right; often frequented by guest chefs and picking the best of the local produce to gather, prepare and serve. Starters of Confit Duck and Candied Pecan salad and Green Pea Gnocchi did not disappoint; both were packed full of flavour. I was particularly impressed with the amount of taste from the pea sauce and the combination of duck and the sweet pecan made for an impressive dish. The mains were slightly more conventional but packed the same punch; the steak was absolutely divine and the beef burger ranked up there in terms of taste and texture.
The giant bed ensured a peaceful night’s sleep, and we woke in the morning to find our breakfast hamper had been delivered through the cleverly designed hatch by the front door. Mountains of pastries, breads, yoghurts, cereals and fruits were soon splayed out over the bed. I chose to eat these over the next few hours, broken up by a coffee and a read of the morning news in the hot tub. It was a real sense of tranquillity and seclusion, only ended by our more than generous checkout time at midday.
After a short 20-minute walk down to a very stormy beach, we had to say goodbye to Chewton Glen. That afternoon, we drove endlessly through the beautiful roads that intersected the New Forest, looking left, right and forward at every turn. It is such a visceral place; the red and orange hues of the forest matched by the impressive array of wildlife that roams freely over the heathland. Definitely a place we will be revisiting sooner rather than later.