I love spending time together as a family but it’s actually quite rare that we find some really good quality mother / daughter time. In fact, the only time I recall going away just my mum and I was about a gazillion years ago when we stayed over night in Exeter when I was there for a university interview. That being said, with an invitation to spend the night at luxury country house, Chewton Glen and to experience The Kitchen cookery school, my mum seemed the perfect plus one!
Beautiful Chewton Glen, on the edge of the New Forest, is a family favourite of ours and we’ve been all together several times before. Last time my dad, sister and little Charlie were with us and we headed to nearby Peppa Pig world for the day where my dad became the proud owner of a Daddy Pig T-Shirt. The hotel is actually perfect for those looking for somewhere family friendly as there’s a Children’s club, extra cots can easily be added to the rooms, there are child-friendly menus and lots of fun activities going on nearby such as pony treks and picnics on the beach.
This time with just my mum and I we could really indulge in a proper catch up and some great food at a hotel that we really love.
Super stately both inside and out, Chewton Glen is a quintessential English classic and from the moment you’re greeted and checked into the room that distinctive, charming British service is evident. For example, when I stepped off the train at New Milton station, a smartly dressed driver from the hotel was waiting for me on the platform with an umbrella in hand ready to help me with my luggage and whisk me away in the hotel’s car.
You’d expect nothing less at this hotel, the sister to Cliveden House hotel, a Relais and Châteaux property and recommended by the likes of Mr & Mrs Smith and Virtuoso.
Built in the early 18th Century, the hotel’s idyllic surrounding were an inspiration for Captain Frederick Marryat who wrote his novel The Children of the New Forest whilst staying there in the 1840’s. It’s easy to see why he fell in love the place with its 130 acres of beautiful grounds. Unfortunately the great British weather hindered any hopes of country walks around the grounds this time but a good day can see a visit through the woods, parkland and coast. Sticking with the literary history, many of the rooms have names inspired by the Captain’s famous novel as well as his other books.
The Skan family transformed the house into how it currently stands and today it is still privately owned by a family who frequently visited the hotel and held a long-standing passion for it.
With 70 rooms it’s big enough to feel stately whilst retaining the boutique charm of a small hotel…oh and twelve of these room are treehouses. Yes, actual treehouses!! I’ve not stayed in one yet but it’s definitely on my bucketlist to do so. It’s seriously no surprise that the hotel has won countless awards from prestigious publications such as The Good Hotel Guide, Andrew Harper and Condé Nast Johansens. Though we didn’t visit this time, the hotel is also known for its spa which has 12 treatment rooms, a 17 metre swimming pool as well as a dance studio and gym. Last time I visited I had a Linda Meredith facial – I get these in London often and I have been for years, I still stand by they’re the best facial I’ve ever had. There are few places in UK outside London offering these bespoke facial by the legendary Linda so if you’re staying here I highly recommend giving it a try. Even if you don’t get a treatment, you’ll relish the tranquility of the spa inspired by the forest and nearby coast.
My mum and I had a super spacious Junior Suite each – you can opt for a country classic traditional style room or more contemporary vibes as we did. Our rooms had the same layout but totally different colour palettes with mine having a verdant spring feel and my mum’s being lighter and whiter.
Throughout the hotel floral accents and nature motifs highlight the country side location but without being at all overbearing and chintzy.
The bedroom leads straight through to a large living area and there’s a seamless blend between contemporary furnishing and funky lamps with antique chairs. There’s a stylish desk area with an iPad listing the hotel’s many amenities – they’ve thought of everything as you’re even provided with a pre-stamped postcard. There’s flat screen TV both in the lounge area and the bedroom – should I want to watch two different programs at once.
And I was provided with a gorgeous welcome amenity of a half bottle of Taittinger champagne and the hotel’s own fudge.
Doesn’t that just look like the type of sofa you want to dive on to and curl up for hours with a glass of that Taittinger and a good magazine?
A bathroom clad in wood and marble has a gorgeous large soaking tub and a relaxing shower to satisfy all needs.
Plus luxurious products from Ren.
My lovely room also had not one but two Juliet balconies overlooking the hotel’s courtyard. It was just a shame wet weather prevented us from sitting out there. As these old English houses often are, Chewton Glen has a slightly maze-like interior but when you check in you’re given a handy map and friendly staff are always nearby to give you directions.
If you’re looking for an aperitif the bar downstairs is the perfect place to go. Fabric covered walls, cosy red armchairs and leather sofas give the room a cosy, informal feel – like a gentleman’s club where everyone is welcome. I had a raspberry champagne cocktail in this elegant coupé.
This stylish lounge was the place for a night cap and we have a family tradition of playing Trivial Pursuit after dinner. With just my mum and I we still kept up the tradition but we went a bit more easy on each other allowing hints and clues…. Last time this was also where my family instilled themselves for board games and several rounds of flapjacks. Oh and I should mention the flapjacks alone make the hotel worth a visit.
For dinner we were booked into The Dining Room, on our previous visit this was only dining option at the hotel but with the recent addition of The Kitchen restaurant and cookery school there’s a more casual option too – more on that in my next post.
That being said, there’s nothing too formal about this dining room which resembles a light and bright conservatory with views out to the hotel gardens.
Fresh flowers, lime banquettes and animal designs bring the freshness of the forest inside, eliminating any stuffy feeling associated with formal dining.
Executive Head Chef Luke Matthews has been at Chewton Glen for 21 years, starting as a Sous Chef and appointed Executive Head Chef in 2003 and now managing a brigade of 40. Head Chef Simon Addison has been more recently appointed as Luke Matthews moves his focus to the hotel’s new restaurant, his joint venture with James Martin.
The menu reads like a love letter to produce from the South of England, with the chef’s passion for local ingredients being evident. Classic dishes have been on the menu forever – one example being the Chewton Glen Emmental twice baked soufflé – our waiter tells us its been on the menu for twenty years and there would be outrage among the regulars if they took it off. Yet, the menu is still up-to-date with some Asian flavours included in the mix. Basically something to satisfy my dad – a steak and chips man – or my mum and I who are looking for something more elegant and refined. My starter of roast quail with barbecue sweetcorn and chimichurri ticked exactly those boxes of being refined and elegant yet hearty and full of flavour. Quail isn’t something I order often but this juicy breast and leg paired so beautifully with crunchy and slightly caramelised shallots.
My mum went for a simple refreshing option of Isle of Wight tomatoes with smoked creme fraiche, watermelon and delicate squid ink wafers.
I absolutely loved my main course of Cornish monkfish with spiced puy lentils, coconut and Jerusalem artichokes which was cooked and seasoned to perfection.
Like mother-like-daughter- we’re both a grilled fish and vegetable kinda girl and she opted for the South Coast cod with leeks, Alsace bacon and dashi – another winner of a dish. I was a little concerned as my mum doesn’t like food that’s too salty but it turned out to be a perfectly balanced dish that she loved.
I also loved the sound of one of the vegetable dishes and asked to try a little as a side dish. In true Chewton Glen hospitality, they bought us a whole main course portion of the dish. Which turned out to be a great thing as it was one of the stand out dishes of the night. Smoky flavours of barbecued cauliflower with potato gnocchi, almond and watercress were fabulous both in terms of flavour and five a day. And while we’re talking veg – it’s worth mentioning that much of the fruit and vegetables served in the restaurant are grown onsite in the hotel’s garden. Strong communication between Luke Matthews and Estate Manager, Darren Venables means the garden works in harmony with the kitchen. Not only that – the hotel is home to five million bees living in hives at the back of the estate and producing all the honey for the hotel.
Perfectly fluffy macarons have found a place in my heart along with those flapjacks…
Valrhona chocolate pave with hazelnut and smoked caramel ice cream would seriously delight a sweet tooth but for me was a little rich.
I preferred the mascarpone panna cotta with the both fresh and dried strawberries. Paired with an unusual sounding basil sorbet – this combination actually worked beautifully.
With our cookery course the next day we were up early for breakfast to enjoy a buffet of pastries, yoghurts and fruits…and if you’re a jam fan the garden at Chewton Glen supplies local company, Naked Jams, who make the chutneys, jellies and jams that are served at the hotel for breakfast and afternoon tea.
There’s a la carte options too and you can go as healthy or as indulgent as you like. With my mum opting for crushed avocado and smoked salmon on toast and me starting the day right with a big bowl of porridge. Then from the the main house it was a short buggy ride over to The Kitchen for a day of cooking and learning about nutrition.
We absolutely loved our stay at Chewton Glen, the perfect choice for a mother / daughter staycation and I can’t wait to tell you all about what we got up to at the cookery school.
PIN FOR LATER:
On this occasion I was a guest of Chewton Glen but my thoughts are my own and I have many happy memories of this beautiful hotel,