I have never been disappointed by anything at the end of a gravel drive. It is simply impossible. If it’s winding all the better, every swoop and curve builds my apprehension and consequently my expectations. And oh boy is the gravel drive proclaiming your entry to Chewton Glen pretty spectacular. So distracting in fact that I nearly ran over celebrity chef James Martin, who oversees the cookery school at the award-winning The Kitchen restaurant there (don’t worry, he escaped unscathed).
Chewton Glen’s exterior is the epitome of the traditional English country manor, impressive in its grandeur but welcoming in a homely familiar way. This fine balance is continued into its interior, an eclectic mix of cosy plaids, buttery worn in leathers and flourishes of gold gilt. No disappointments to be had here.
What on earth did we do before the not so humble spa break? Grim B&Bs in desolate seaside towns, caravan club or heaven forbid, camping? Thank goodness for the rise of the luxury spa staycation, the perfect antidote to grim British winters. Chewton Glen can proudly boast that it was one of the first spas in the UK, which means they have had a lot of time to get it just right. The indoor pools are crowned by a cloud fresco ceiling for extra heavenly appeal. With the addition of crystal sauna and steam rooms, cold drench showers, aromatherapy saunas and 12 individual treatment rooms, the experience is divine from start to finish.
Ever mindful of its location, nestled between the edge of the New Forest and the sea, this autumn sees the launch of their own bespoke products, The Chewton Body collection. Taking serious inspiration from its rather unique positioning, with artful combinations such as sea salt and water mint, I await with baited breath. Please report back those visiting post launch, I am keen to hear.
It goes without saying I am more of an indulgent spa sloth so you will find me around the pool with a book – but should you be a saintly spa enthusiast the Chewton Glen team have you covered. And if, like Victoria Beckham, you are an advocate for the alkaline diet, do not fear there is a daily alkaline buffet for balancing your ever important PH levels. If it’s good enough for her, it’s fine by me, but you are more likely to find me chowing down on the deliciously indulgent softshell crab burger at The Kitchen restaurant. It’s all about choices, disclaimer: mine may not always be the most virtuous.
Once you are all spa’ed out and ready to float to bed you can chose from their 72 individually designed wonderfully eclectic bedrooms, no corporate identikit spaces here. For the best spot in the house (or should I say forest) opt for one of their 14 treehouse suites; the childhood dream grown up and gone luxe, which translates to Jacuzzis on the balcony with spectacular panoramic views of the canopy below. Your inner 8 year old will be pretty overwhelmed. The combination of this inner 8 year old and a career spent working in magazines it is a given that I am the biggest sucker for a pun, so the craftily named ‘Treetox’ programme deserves a special shout out. Consisting of a 4 night, 5 day detox, made up of a juice cleanse and 3 hour long personal training sessions, very saintly indeed. Plus sauna and stream room experiences, full use of the spa and leisure facilities, and 3 spa treatments to reward your good self. As after all life is all about balance.
Chewton Glen is English country glamour done oh so right. Whilst reclining in the spa feeling super blissed I had one of those jarring feelings that something was different, not quite the same as my previous spa excursions. One of those feelings which make you start wondering which electrical appliance I have wrongly left plugged in (here’s looking at you, straighteners).
It took me a while to put my finger on it but I was surprised to realise it was the presence of children. Children are welcomed in both the hotel and spa (restricted hours in the morning and afternoon for the latter). And it got me thinking why are so few luxury British spa hotels child-friendly? I am sure I am not the first to say, but I am sure these parents need the spa-related escapism the most?
Chewton Glen is a gem too good not to share. I implore you, bring the whole family, I am happy to share my woggle for a little while.
chewtonglen.com, room rates start from £325
Review by Lucy Coghlan