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We tried a treehouse suite amongst the ancient trees of the New Forest

We tried a treehouse suite amongst the ancient trees of the New Forest
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Set back from the Jurassic Coast amongst the ancient trees of the New Forest, the world-class Chewton Glen hotel presides over its rambling estate with pride and elegance. Winner of several awards - including Best Hotel in the British Isles - its both patriotically traditional and energetically modern. With a spa, two restaurants and more activities than you could possible take part in on a single trip, it offers an opulent getaway for friends, couples and families alike.

Eco credentials

After undergoing new ownership around ten years ago, Chewton Glen has pulled up its socks and taken on the responsibility of its environmental impact with gusto. Inside, their commitment to a green policy is evident in the use of organic, seasonal ingredients in the restaurant, the holistic spa treatments and sustained efforts to reduce plastic waste but outside is where it starts to get really interested in. In the last couple of years, the hotel has even managed to reduce its handful waste from two skinfuls of rubbish a week to only one a month.

The estate, which spans over several hundred acres, is cared for under the watchful eye of a dedicated team, who are constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to make the hotel more eco friendly. From creating an eco system that allows the crops to flourish without the use of pesticides to planting bushes that will encourage local birdlife to nest and feed, there’s always a new project ticking over.

Perhaps the most notable is the orchard, which is made up of 158 different species of rare fruit trees and is tended every day by the hotel’s very own forager, who picks the fruit and makes it into jellies, jams and preserves that can be used in the kitchen. They’ve also got a beekeeping project on the go, which is going exceedingly well, if the delicately floral estate honey is anything to go by.

if you take a turn around the garden (which is actively encouraged) you may run into one of the chefs or barman, who head out to pick ingredients each day to use in the restaurants and bar. Even certain long-standing customers have been known to take a turn through the tomato greenhouses and head back to the hotel, arms full of the ingredients they’d like the chefs to use for their dinner.

Rest

Chewton Glen is a large hotel, so there are several room tariffs on offer to suit every party. Whether you opt for a duck egg blue Garden Room or a Classic overlooking the garden, thanks to the hotel’s New Forest setting, everyone has its own slice of the spectacular view.

The real showstoppers, though, are the Treehouse Suites - three podlike huts set amongst a copse of trees just a little way from the house. “Hut,” in fact, is a slightly misleading description - these are truly cavernous; each coming with its own living area and terrace hot tub.

As soon as you’re led in from the golf-bogy escort by the Treehouse Concierge, you’ll be struck by the views - floor to ceiling windows allow the verdant scenery to put on a real show and the clever positioning of the bed, lounge area and stand-alone bath mean you can enjoy it from wherever you happen to be lounging. A velvet sofa piled high with cushions overlooks a woodturning stove and flat screen TV (which comes with Sky) and a kitchenette set to the side is stocked to the brim with complimentary goodies (if you leave without making the hot chocolate, it would truly be a tragedy).

With a king-sized bed and separate galleried bunk room for kids, its both ideal for families and couples in search of secluded luxury. A breakfast hamper is delivered each morning, filled with freshly made pastries and bread, fruit and yoghurts and a hot plate menu is on offer if you’re in the mood for a full English.

Food

If you’ve not ruined your appetite with the various cakes and bakes that will greet your arrival, dinner in the dining room is something to look forward to. Of course, if it’s a Saturday night (or any night, for that matter) you’ve got to kick off the evening in the hotel bar - a cosy, fire lit room filled with leather armchairs and dominated by a suave looking bar, which is lined with various trinkets and potion-like bottles ready to be expertly wielded by the bow-tie-clad mixologists. Watching them whip up a negroni or house gin and tonic adds to the sense of atmosphere and sets you up for an evening of fine dining dishes that are, thankfully, just a short walk through the grand entrance hall away.

Chef team Simon Addison and Luke Matthews have put together a menu that manages to feel special but still comforting - portions are, blissfully, decently sized and the menu is a mix of delicate seasonal dishes and classic brasserie favourites. As many of them contain ingredients foraged from the kitchen garden, there’s a vibrancy and freshness to them that’s utterly satisfying.

Of course, it would be remiss to talk about the food without mentioning the cookery classes down at The Kitchen - the lowkey brasserie that guards the entrance gates to the hotel. With options to create everything from Chewton Glen’s classics to an Italian feast, a day spent chopping, sautéing and baking on its burnished workbenches is one thoroughly well spent. Of course, you could just sit and watch people cook their dinner whilst devouring butternut squash pizza and handmade doughnuts from James Martin’s menu in the restaurant area, but we’ll leave that up to you.

Recuperation

Recuperation comes in the form of a spa but if you’re the kind of person who feels like they have to earn the relaxation, kick off your stay with one of the myriad activities on offer. With everything from tennis, archery and falconry to a nine hole 3-par golf course and fitness class program, only the truly unimaginative could get bored at Chewton Glen.

Once you’ve worked up a sweat, slip into a fluffy robe and make your way down to the spa, where you can ease tense muscles on the heated stone beds before sinking into the steaming hydrotherapy pool.

It almost goes without saying that you should book a treatment and whether you’re young of heart and firm of skin or not, we’d highly recommend the Diamond Energy facial, which uses a range of Nature Bisse products to get the skin re-plumped and revitalised. Working through process of exfoliating, detoxifying, plumping and rehydrating, it’s little wonder the treatment is such a hit with A-listers and their beauty therapists - even with the prospect of a red carpet appearance looming, anyone would find it difficult not to relax.

Final Word

Ideal for a romantic weekend or family in search of luxury in the great outdoors, Chewton Glen manages to strike the balance between five star extravagance and homely amenability perfectly.

Visit

Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa, New Forest, Hampshire, BH25 6QS | +44 (0) 1425 275 341 | Website

Words: Bianca Barratt