22 December 2011 The Jewish News
MOMENTS OF BLISS
IN THE NEW FOREST
The Chewton Glen Hotel makes its guests feel as pampered as possible. Sharon Feinstein and her daughter Lara check in for a spot of utter serenity...
Set on the edge of the ancient New Forest, Chewton Glen is the quintessential English country hotel. Once you’ve turned into the sweeping drive, past the sun-dappled lawns and gentle lake, you’re a world away from the gnawing tension we all long to shed.
It was my daughter Lara’s birthday, and seeing the smile come over her face, her iPod discarded, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Following a warm welcome, the car whisked away, and we found ourselves in a glorious room overlooking the fountain. We quickly gave ourselves up to the weekend break like docile lambs.
Everything is set up to make you feel as relaxed and pampered as possible.
We found our sizes among the wellington boots lined up in the hall, and wandered down to the sandy beach to watch the surfers and spectacular sunset across the Dorset coast.
After a bracing walk, what better way to spend the afternoon than with a traditional English afternoon tea sunken into armchairs in front of a log fire?
The piece de resistance at Chewton Glen is the spacious, sensuous spa, the sunlight streaming through vast windows, an overall atmosphere of utter serenity.
Lara and I drifted down the elegant, red carpeted corridors in our big fluffy white dressing gowns. And, without really noticing it, those little mother and daughter niggles were sliding away as we started to agree on things.
We sprawled out beside the 17.5-metre, classically styled swimming pool, and then launched ourselves into the Roman-themed hydrotherapy pool up to our necks with bubbling water jets, giggling, urgling, and sinking into a state of relaxation.
Lara insisted on braving the outdoor heated jacuzzi in the late afternoon icy wind, but what the heck, when you’re feeling that laid-back and jovial anything goes – and everything’s fun.
There are so many options you barely notice time passing as you float from aromatherapy sauna to crystal steam room, do your lengths in the fabulous swimming pool and settle down for your special treatment.
Lara described her facial as “bliss”, and her skin as “clear and ever-so fresh looking.”
Testimony indeed! She especially loved the Linda Meredith products, already a hit with actors with flawless skin like Sienna Miller.
My luxuriant, full body massage with fragrant oils made me feel utterly rejuvenated.
That night we went to The Jetty in nearby Christchurch, overseen by local success story Alex Aitken. The buzzy restaurant is set right on the water’s edge, with walls of glass so you can gaze out at the parade of swans bobbing by on their way to Mudeford Quay.
The fish couldn’t be fresher, and Aitken’s mouth-watering dishes are impeccably prepared and served.
This is rivalled only by Chewton Glen’s own wonderfully elegant new restaurant, Vetiver.
We sat in the conservatory done up in shades of black and cream, with sculpted ceiling lights. My Dover sole had that perfect, soft generous texture and Lara loved her succulent lamb and local seasonal vegetables. It’s unfussy, with a very good a la carte choice, generous portions, and amiable, efficient service.
The wine list is positively superb.
Chewton Glen is a dreamy weekend retreat, where everything feels like an occasion to be lingered over and appreciated. My favourites were the vast his and hers shower rooms complete with a bench, and the bright breakfast in the conservatory overlooking the lawns, with a great choice of fruit, and noteworthy eggs. For the more energetic there’s a golf course, a tennis academy and
signature croquet lawn.
Main image: Chewton Glen’s stunning exterior.
Above: Sharon and Lara relaxing in the hotel’s bar
The staff-to-guest ratio of two to one means you’re effortlessly cared for here. I particularly liked the porter who helped us over the pain of having to finally part, waving us off with bottles of water and biscuits, and making us feel so special that we wanted to take him home.
Oh, what a rude bump it is when you stagger into the house and open the fridge to that souring milk and long list of “things to do” for Monday morning, a glorious weekend break at Chewton Glen already fading into the mysterious New Forest mists.