Wild horses prance playfully on the side of the road as we approach Chewton Glen through the fabled thicket of the New Forest National Park.
Set in 130 acres, this 18th-century family-friendly country-house hotel just an hour from London has no doubt seen plenty of fairy-tale endings as a favourite for weddings and milestone celebrations. Grandiose yet not intimidating, its floral wallpaper, soft carpets, sinkable sofas, roaring fires and spacious bathrooms mean grandparents will be just as content as children in this home away from home.
We've earmarked Chewton Glen as the perfect place for a multi-generational get-together for families looking to reunite post-lockdown. Beautiful grounds, a behemothic swimming pool and top-notch culinary offering will keep everyone entertained, and make it just as appealing to couples looking for a romantic getaway not too far from the capital.
Quintessentially English, 58 comfortable bedrooms in the main house see traditional wooden furniture meet contemporary iPad-controlled amenities. Larger duplex suites have sprawling, homely sitting rooms and pretty outside terraces for a pre-dinner G&T. Perfect for summer months, 14 ultra-modern treehouse suites complete with wood-burning stoves are the stuff of childhood dreams but with a sophisticated twist. Hampers delivered on request.
What's for breakfast?
Pretty much anything you like. You're on holiday though, so you'll be having a lie-in, going full English and ordering it to your bed.
How about lunch and dinner?
For lunch, head to The Kitchen, located on the edge of the estate, for an open-plan, casual affair of seasonal plates such as oysters or asparagus, alongside pizza, burgers and salads. This is also where you'll find the cooking school.
Come dinner, The Dining Room is where you want to be. A five-room set-up - including a Wine Room, Garden Room and Summer House - suits every season and occasion. Expect spruced-up traditional menus of locally sourced produce (much of it hasn't travelled further than 100m from the kitchen garden): souffle, lobster curry, fillet steak, roast duck. A well-curated wine list won't disappoint.
Is there a bar?
Absolutely. In the main house, the snug, moodily lit bar has a killer cocktail list - feel free to order from any of the many sitting rooms too. In warmer weather, head out onto the terrace for a very English-feeling aperitif.
In our eyes, the biggest draw here is the sprawling state-of-the-art spa. On top of that, you'll find a cooking school, golf course, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pool and croquet lawn. Activities include walking and jogging trails, mountain biking, shooting, archery, falconry and duck herding (yes, really).
Things you should know
This is a hotel that will suit all ages. If you're looking for a trendy, six-room bolthole, it probably isn't for you.
Within a short walk, you can find…
Follow the woodland trail from the hotel, past treehouse suites and a tinkling stream down to the beautiful sandy stretch of Highcliffe Beach. In wetter months wear proper footwear as it can get a bit muddy. Maps at reception.