The countryside idyll with a smattering of Soho; Muddy makes like rockstar-royalty at Hampshire's fanciest-pantsiest five star hotel.
We’re on the edge of The New Forest here, the sea’s a brisk fifteen-minute walk away through a native woodland ravine, if you can tear yourself from the spa, the cocktail bar, the cookery school… or your super-duper king size bed.
Expect understated, English country chic – Regency chairs, hunting prints, a grand piano and mahoosive floral arrangements (props to the man re-jigging the flowers and spraying the leaves. His sole job I wonder? How very Versaille). Elsewhere, French windows lead out to a glorious sun-deck with an outdoor pool nearby.
In high summer it all feels molto Italian, fifties-chic; grab a Campari and dolce vita with the best of them whilst the kids splash nearby.
Choose from nine different types of suite or the hotels piece de la resistance the Tree Houses: uber-luxe, high-up in the woodland canopy, beloved of Insta-famous influencers like Lucy and Lydia Connell with a cool 600k followers between them.
Mr Muddy H and I stayed in the Croquet Room Suite with its French doors opening wide onto a manicured lawn.
The bed was so big that even my 6-foot-something fella could sprawl. And oh the bath. And oh the bottle of Taittinger — how can a girl revert to normal after that? *Takes deep breath, deletes paragraph of gushing editorial*
A big thumbs-up for the natural REN products as well.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The Dining Room is pure posh-nosh — the table cloths are white, the cutlery polished — but with a relaxed, conservatory vibe, all magnolias, lemon trees and modern chandeliers.
The waiting staff are beyond friendly, looking us in the eye and always saying hello. Good manners, I like that. We opted for the tasting menu and with Executive Chef and Saturday Kitchen stalwart, Luke Matthews at the helm, expectations were high.
And we weren’t disappointed. Pressing of Duck Liver with gingerbread and macademia; Hand-Dived Scallops with truffle and verjus, lastly my personal favourite the Risotto of Forest Mushrooms with pickled walnut: meaty, earthiness with a pickled twang.
If you’ve read other reviews on this site, you’ll know that I’m a fan of little and often with much chatting and quaffing of wine. On the subject of wine, the list is long, interesting and *cough* pretty pricey but fear not, there is a page dedicated to bottles under £30.
Elsewhere, find brunchy-bistro food and a cookery school at The Kitchen, a new venture in Chewton’s grounds headed-up by local celeb chef, James Martin (review coming soon).
The main pool is in a soaring, natural-light filled room, all frescos and floor to ceiling windows. Next door is the hydrotherapy pool which is divided into different pods offering various types of bubbling massage *shoulders drop by three inches*. Outside there is a small, sheltered hot tub as well.
The sauna and steam rooms (one of each) are in the male and female changing rooms — great if you’re on a girls’ weekend, not so good if you’re having a romantic night away with your other half. That said, avoiding those beer bellies and sweaty sauna trunks has got to be a good thing.
Elsewhere there’s a dance studio, tennis courts, 9-hole golf course, gym, an outdoor pool and a sundeck. [Read Muddy’s full review of the spa]
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Those looking for a really special stay in the English countryside. Lovers of fantastic food and wine in a relaxed yet manicured setting. Honeymooners take note.
Not for: If you’re after small, boutique or urban-edgy, then you might want to look elsewhere (or check-out the tree houses). Ditto, if you’re on a shoe-string.
£££: Pricey, of course it is, although spa facilities are part of the package if you’re staying.
Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa, New Forest, Hants, BH25 6QS. Tel: 01425 275341. chewtonglen.com
Words: Mary Malyon, Editor: Muddy Hants