When I visited the UK recently I was faced with a tough decision - do I stick to the bright lights of London or venture out in search of a road less travelled? Being a typical Libran, and thus genetically programmed to procrastinate on every decision, I chose to do both. Here's the country portion of my Great British Adventure.
Still recovering from feeling like a pretzel on my last long haul flight, I thought it was time to choose a carrier with a bit of extra leg room. British Airways was my chariot of choice. My Business Class seat was a godsend, allowing me to actually get some sleep. The flight departed Sydney in the late afternoon, stopped for a fleeting one hour break in Singapore, and then continued on to merry old England.
After wasting 30 minutes trying to set up my new 02 sim card, and narrowly avoiding the destruction of my phone with a luggage trolley, I escape the confines of Heathrow Terminal 3. Like a salmon migrating upstream, I join the procession of bleary eyed travellers and clamber onto the Tube for the start of my epic journey. Once I get my car, it's time to head down south.
A quick two hours drive later, which had little to do with my elastic band-powered hire car, I arrive at the grand entrance to Chewton Glen in New Milton, Hampshire. This privately owned hotel looks and feels like a golf course with its long avenue of trees enveloping you as you drive along the winding road to reception.
Feeling like a long lost member of the Royal family as I arrive, I'm greeted at the front door and ushered into the reception area. Wanting to soak up the atmosphere a little before I head to my room, I make a quick detour to Tinkers Bar for a glass of vino and also poke my head into Vetiver restaurant, where I'll be dining later.
Leaving the ground behind and entering the tree house, thankfully without the need to climb a rope ladder, the first thing that hits you is the space. The suite is huge! Light is streaming in through the large doors at the rear, filling the space with an inviting warm glow. This is not your typical British hotel room.
Next up is the most important area of the house - the bedroom. Continuing the tree house theme, the bed head doubles as a dividing wall with branch-like limbs reaching towards the sky. A tiny bird sits atop one of the branches, just one of many quirky touches in the suite. Mirrored floor-to-ceiling wardrobes enhance the feeling of space, and doors opening to the deck fold away to reveal an outdoor setting and heated spa. Will be putting that to good use later!
Thinking I'd finished exploring, I went back to the front door to take a few (dozen) photos and realised the bookcase I saw as I entered was actually a ladder! Feeling like a child in the Faraway Tree, I clambered up to bookcase and found a cute little loft area with two single beds. It's a fantastic space for young families.
Looking back on my stay at Chewton Glen, it was definitely the highlight of my trip. Everything at the hotel seemed to flow perfectly, with just the right balance between heritage and innovation. Vetiver Restaurant was divine, try the seared scallops or sea bass, and Tinkers Bar had the ambience of an exclusive club. The Treehouses are a radical departure from the rest of the hotel, but they work. Next time I make the long journey to the motherland, Chewton Glen is at the top of my wish list.
If You Go
Dinner - Vetiver at Chewton Glen is an award winning restaurant regarded as one of the best in the UK. Décor is simple with a black and white theme, complemented by quirky touches such as rabbit-shaped napkin holders, big silver knockers on the back of chairs, and hoola-hoop light fixtures. Service is excellent, with staff that actually have personalities. I had the seared scallops for entree, followed by an exquisite line caught sea bass. For dessert, the signature CG Bumble Bee - an orange and carrot sorbet shaped like a bumble bee.
Breakfast - Forget boring cereals with UHT milk, breakfast at the Tree House Suite is one to remember. It arrives in a large hamper via a hidden door in the cupboard, and contains everything from porridge, fruit and yoghurt to a baguette with cured meats and cheeses. The balcony is the best spot to enjoy your brekky.
British Airways operates daily services from Sydney to London via Singapore. Club World seats are a great option for the long distance, allowing you to get a bit of sleep on the way. If you're the type of person who can’t sleep, there's a good selection of movies, TV shows and games to entertain you.More info on Chewton Glen - www.chewtonglen.com
More info on British Airways - www.britishairways.com
More info on Britain - www.visitbritain.com
The writer travelled as a guest of Chewton Glen and British Airways.