Living / 24 April, 2018 / Ellie Thompson
Chewton Glen greeted us with a cheerful carpet of wild yellow primroses lining the edge of the woodland flanking the long, winding road leading up to the family-owned country hotel. We had made our way down from Surrey that morning, spotting various wild ponies and donkeys in amongst the purple and yellow heathers of the New Forest during the last half an hour of our journey to reach the five star 18th century manor house.
Set in 130 acres of picturesque woodland, gardens and parklands, Chewton Glen is a quintessential English retreat, a country estate complete with a 9 hole, par 3 golf course, and one that offers a range of beautiful family-friendly accommodation, from traditional garden rooms, to eco-friendly tree houses suspended above ground in the forest.
At reception we were met by the friendliest of staff, and after a little wander around the hotel to get our bearings, we were chauffeured up to TV chef James Martin’s on-site open-plan restaurant and cookery school for lunch while our room was being prepared.
The Kitchen is a relaxed and child-friendly restaurant offering up excellent food in the shape of wood-fired pizzas, gourmet burgers and delicious superfood salads, not to mention the most mouth-watering desserts. I’ll never forget the delicious melt-in-the-mouth doughnuts!
The simple children’s menu was altered for us to be dairy-free, and Maddie sat happily up to the table in a highchair and in true baby-led weaning style threw chips all over the floor around our feet, but without being frowned upon by the waiting staff or our fellow guests – most with children in tow too. We of course wiped the floor clean before leaving (the many uses of baby wipes!) but I got the feeling it wouldn’t have mattered. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff there.
Chewton Glen is home to an award-winning spa boasting fantastic facilities to fully pamper the needs of each and every guest. There’s a hydrotherapy spa pool, aromatherapy saunas, crystal steam rooms, a nail studio and twelve individual treatment rooms offering no fewer than 50 different treatments and holistic therapies.
I was lucky enough to sneak off for half an hour to indulge in an express facial, while Maddie and Daddy took the coastal path from the hotel right down to the sandy beach that overlooks the Isle of Wight. Winning all round.
Our ground floor garden room was stunning and incredibly spacious, complete with lounge area, walk-in wardrobe and luxurious bathroom.
French windows opened out onto a private sheltered terrace complete with patio table and chairs that overlooked the gorgeous landscaped gardens. This made our evening once Maddie was asleep, we sat outside for half an hour as the sun went down while she slept soundly inches from us, door ajar.
The family room comes with everything you’d expect to find in a five star hotel, but with a couple of extra special touches, the most fantastic hair straighteners (and most powerful hairdryer!), and an in-room tablet, of which guests can use to order from room service without even having to pick up the phone. Genius!
Chewton Glen is comprised of 72 rooms and suites, including 14 luxury tree houses with private hot tubs for that one-of-a kind experience your family will never forget.
With a ten month old baby in tow we were slightly hesitant about the five star dining experience so decided on an early dinner at 6pm, to ensure Maddie would be on her best behaviour and wouldn’t get too tired too quickly. We needn’t have worried, she took to the experience fabulously, and seemed alarmingly at home sat up to a beautifully dressed table in such a picturesque setting in her best La Coqueta dress. Our fellow diners complimented us on how well she behaved, and word even got back to reception on check-out the following morning!
It goes without saying that the food and wine on offer was exquisite, and the ambience of the restaurant, although first class and incredibly special, wasn’t stuffy or pretentious – the vibe was perfect, making even a ten-month old baby feel right at home.
Chewton Glen is a fabulous choice for an idyllic family escape with its outdoor play area, Bug Hotel, and plenty of space in the hotel grounds for the kids to roam, ramble and run.
Although the hotel feels incredibly remote, it’s located on the edge of the New Forest, with regular pony treks and treasure hunts in the woodlands, as well as hands-on falconry and duck herding. A short walk from the beach guarantees a whole host of water-based activities.
Chewton Glen’s indoor pool has set times for children to enjoy the facilities, 9-10.30am and 4-5.30pm, and the hotel’s heated outdoor pool is available for children from March to October.
What’s great about Chewton Glen is that it’s located very close to lots of popular attractions nearby, including the legendary Peppa Pig World, Marwell Zoo and Paulton’s Park, to name but a few.
Chewton Glen’s Children’s Club runs every weekend and during school holidays to entertain the little ones, giving parents time to relax and enjoy a well-earned break. Entertainment includes everything from painting and puzzles, board games, toys, videos and story-time to keep younger guests amused for hours.
We enjoyed our short but exceedingly sweet stay at Chewton Glen. Described as an ‘English original’, the elegant hotel has so much to offer a family looking for the ultimate in English staycations. Highly recommended!
To book your summer staycation, contact Chewton Glen.