* Prices may differ from that shown
For my birthday recently, friends gave me a voucher for the Chewton Glen which is a 5 star Spa hotel set in 130 acres of countryside on the outskirts of the New Forest. The Chewton Glen has been voted 'Best Small Hotel/Resort Under 100 Rooms in the World 2009' by The Gallivanters Guide. I live in Poole and have been wanting to go to the Chewton Glen for some time and with the seasonal 3 course lunch menu costing £24.50 I happily went there today, clutching my £25 gift voucher. I went with my boyfriend and we got to the hotel at about midday. We spent an hour in the lounge having a drink and enjoying the views of the gardens, the sumptious surroundings and the discreet yet friendly service. We confirmed our menu choices to the waiters whilst in the lounge area and at 1:00 we were taken into the conservatory dining area. The conservatory is a lovely bright room with two rows of tables along its length. The smiley and helpfull waiting staff trotted about inbetween the tables, serving drinks and food. I had what I think was uncooked beef with cheese and salad. I wish I could remember the proper name but alas I can't! What I can tell you is that it was a tasty dish, with truffle dressing which was nice and light as I believe a starter should be. For my main course I had grouse which did attract a £15 supplement fee. I have never had grouse before so I'm not really sure how it should be cooked. However, I did think that it was a bit over cooked. However, the jus was lovely, and the herb mash was scrumptious. For dessert, I had shortbread with a sort of biscuity, strawberry thing. It was very enjoyable and refreshing. I had two gin and tonics (Bombay Saphirre) during the meal which cost £10.50 each. Each!! Eeek! My other half had half pints of diet coke as he was driving and they were £2.50 each. Although I enjoyed my meal, it did cost a total of £110, less the £25 voucher. I have eaten a much much nicer meal at L'ortolan near Reading which was much more of an event than my meal at the Chewton Glen. To be honest, I have eaten fantastically in a couple of restaurants in Poole and spent the same amount or less for the two of us, but with much more alcohol thrown in. Also, the majority of diners at the Chewton Glen were elderly, whereas I am in my late 20s. The age of the diners did affect the ambiance in my opinion. I think more younger diners would have made a livlier atmosphere, whereas I felt a tiny bit reserved because the dining area was rather quiet. All in all I would say that I enjoyed my meal at the Chewton Glen but I spent £80 for just me to eat in the evening at L'ortolan and it was well worth the extra money there as it was a total experience. I don't think that the Chewton Glen was really worth the money. PS I am unable to comment on the rest of the hotel and spa as my budget didnt stretch that far!!
I had a wonderful feeling of grandeur recently. As a subscriber to Executary News (a magazine for Personal Assistants, secretaries and office managers) I was invited jointly by EN and the Chewton Glen Hotel to have lunch and a tour of the hotel facilities and was allowed to take one guest. The Chewton Glen is a well-known 5* hotel, spa and country club and was voted the Best Country House Hotel in the World by Gourmet magazine. So, how on earth could I refuse this invitation? Why would I want to refuse it? I gladly accepted and eagerly awaited the event. My boss had been several times and I already knew it was something special. It is situated on the southern edge of the New Forest at New Milton, Hampshire and was originally an 18th century mansion which was remodelled into the Palladian style in the 1890s and was converted into a luxurious hotel about forty years ago by Brigitte and Martin Skan who are still the owners of the hotel. It is truly a luxurious and very special hideaway. Hide me away in this place at any time! It is just a short walk from the sea and has 130 acres of gardens and parkland. Now my company has a chauffeuring department and the head chauffeur and I get on very well and I thought it would be really grand if my guest and I could arrive in style. What an entrance! However, I first spoke to my boss (who is Chairman) to make sure it was OK and then I arranged pick up times etc. The day arrived and I duly dressed accordingly put on my best trouser suit and accessories as I didnt want to look out of place and the time came to be picked up and whisked away to this idyllic location. Our chauffeur got us there with 7 minutes to spare. On passing through the front gates you are greeted with the most idyllic country estate sprawling beautifully cut green grass and trees. On arriving at the front entrance I was just amazed at how beautiful it looked an abundance of beautiful flowering shrubs and plants and the concierge was ready at the entrance to greet us. Our chauffeur did inform us that there is a room around the back of the hotel where the chauffeurs and pilots (yes, you read correctly, pilots) go to have a spot of refreshments. You see, at this hotel, everyone is looked after and pampered. We were guided through beautiful rooms to the Morning Room where half a dozen other PAs had already arrived. We were greeted by Lisa Lernoux-Dock, the Sales Manager. Lisa is American and very friendly and very charming and put us at ease immediately. Champagne was ready and waiting and so was the gorgeous, young, foreign waiter! He did try to keep topping up our glasses but I had to refuse because, unfortunately, I had to go back to work and then to drive home. The Morning Room was gorgeous, light and airy and had beautiful views on either side one view to the beautiful gardens and the other view to the fantastic hotel entrance. Once everyone had arrived we were escorted through to the restaurant. Now my guest thought that we would be having a buffet but, to my mind, the hotel was trying to sell its facilities and legendary cuisine so I thought that we should have a proper sit down lunch. Well, guess who was right? Yes, me!!!! The tables were exquisitely set with beautiful china and silver cutlery. I did think that the wine glasses were rather ordinary though. They were just very ordinary, plain large wine glasses. However, the wine which was poured into them was fantastic. I am not a great wine lover but I did like the white wine on offer. Our lunch consisted of: Fine Tart of Tomato, Fortuna Cheese and Red Onions with roquette leaves and pesto; Baked Fillet of Brill with crushed potatoes, market vegetables and chive butter sauce; Summer Pudding then coffee and truffles. Let me tell you that this lunch was so mouthwateringly fantastic. Each course was served on very large plates but each was a work of art, especially the summer pudding. I love summer pudding but it seemed such a shame to eat this one. Fresh berries were placed strategically around the plate with a puree and icing sugar. It really was delicious. Freshly baked bread rolls were offered during the starter and main meal and these were no ordinary rolls. Brown seeded rolls with walnuts, white rolls with peppers just to name two! The food at the hotel had been recognised as amongst the best in England and the wine list boasts over 600 bins. We did see this on our tour and it is true! The waiters were very, very attentive and wine glasses kept being filled up and so did the water glasses too. The truffles offered with our coffee were made on the premises and were simply delicious. The only trouble was that I was so stuffed by eating this 3-course lunch that I could only manage one truffle! However, my guest sneaked two truffles to take back to work to one of our colleagues who had wanted to attend but was not allowed owing to the ruling that I could only take one guest. The party was split into two groups in order to view the facilities. Lisa headed my group and was a very entertaining host and guide. There are so many nooks and crannies that I simply cannot describe all of them but can truly say that it is a warm, relaxed country-house style hotel. There are 58 bedrooms of which 23 are suites. The categories are divided into: BEDROOMS Gold: popular spacious rooms, all having a very nice and comfortable sitting area with spectacular views over the croquet lawn and golf course. They either have a terrace or a balcony. They all have lots of storage space, a large dressing room and massive bathrooms with separate shower and toilet. Silver: large rooms including separate shower, toilet and bath. They all have a sitting area and lots of storage space. Bronze: Comfortable, traditional rooms and some have views overlooking the parkland and others are slightly more secluded having their own balconies. The hotel states that the bathrooms in this category are good-sized but to me they were large compared to my bathroom at home. Again, separate toilet with a power shower instead of a bath. SUITES These are divided into junior suites and ordinary suites. The junior suites have either a terrace or balcony, some are secluded, others have great views of the gardens and parkland. They all have a sitting area, bedroom and large bathroom with separate shower. Other suites have large bedrooms with separate sitting area. Some are duplex with a bedroom upstairs and sitting room downstairs (these were occupied on our tour so it was a shame we didnt get to see these). These are ideal for families and some have sofa beds for children and some have their own private garden. Let me tell you that some of these suites are as big as my bungalow, I am sure. Each suite is individually decorated and all the fabrics are of a luxury quality and specially chosen by the owner Brigitte Skan. Most of the bedrooms have king-sized or twin beds and all are air-conditioned and have a 10 channel satellite TV, CD and DVD players, well stocked minibar, trouser press, personal safe, Frette bathrobes and slippers and hair dryer. All of the bathrooms have separate power showers and separate toilets. One of the suites we visited (it may have been a gold suite called gold because it is the best) had a very large shower and you could honestly host a party in the shower it was so large. I felt so sick when visiting all these bathrooms because each one contained a beautiful tray full of Molton Brown toiletries. I was so tempted to try and look in the cupboards to see if there was a stock of the toiletries for the purpose of restocking!!! Tempted, so tempted but did not! I remember seeing thick, white, luxury dressing gowns for the use of the occupants and quite a lot of the rooms we viewed had balconies or decking areas with large pots containing shrubs. The hotel is also known as an excellent venue for meetings and conferences plus banquets and is within easy access to international airports and major road and rail networks. The facilities are truly outstanding. The Lake Suite has its own private entrance and terrace which overlooks the parkland and gardens. It is the largest of the luxurious private rooms and is situated on the ground floor. It is air-conditioned and has audio visual and conferencing facilities but can be sub-divided for smaller meetings. It can accommodate 140 guests for receptions. This room was immaculate but Lisa did inform us that in January 2005 it was going to be refurbished with state of the art equipment and redecorated with a more modern theme. I must tell you that it was immaculate and had beautiful drapes. I asked what happened to all the furnishings when they redecorate and what Lisa told me was amazing. The staff are well and truly looked after by the owners. All the equipment, furnishings etc. are taken to a room on the lower floors and any staff wishing to take any of the equipment is free to do so. What generosity! Let me tell you that nothing in this hotel is ever thrown out because it is worn and threadbare. No, it certainly isnt. The Wardroom was a spectacular board room very modern but luxurious (yet again). It is useful for strategy and board meetings and seat up to 20 people or for theatre style meetings, 30 people. It has state of the art equipment and communications facilities which also includes wireless broadband internet access. The chairs were leather and very comfortable and just off this room are toilets for ladies and gents which were of a very high standard. Another room we visited was the Club Room and Mission quite small but cosy and there is an interconnecting door. Very warmly decorated with red check fabric all over the walls, I just had to touch this! There was a snooker table in the larger room and a card table in the smaller room but, as with everything in the Chewton Glen, the room can be adapted to your taste and needs. The Marryat Restaurant is a great place to dine and can accommodate both large and small parties. The Terrace Room is located in the conservatory and it is really very light and airy and overlooks the beautiful grounds. A very peaceful setting for dining. Adjacent to the Terrace Room is the Oak Room which, again, could be ideal for small parties or meetings or private lunches. It can accommodate up to 6 people. The Marryat Room is contemporary and can seat up to 24 guests. The Garden Room can accommodate up to 90 guests. There is also the Water Garden where you can dine al fresco and if you want a really personal evening then the chef can create a BBQ or a themed menu for whatever occasion you desire. The restaurant has been designated No Smoking and there is also a lounge for non-smokers. The bar area allows smokers as does one of the other lounges. The chef and his team can help if you are on a special diet provided you let them know in advance. The swimming pool is simply to die for! It is large, elegant, luxurious and stunningly beautiful. There is a spa just off the swimming pool. This area also features a beauty shop, gym and a healthy eating café (£18 per head to eat in this café). We were even taken through the kitchens which, although appeared quite small for the size of the hotel, were immaculately clean. The hotel prides itself on being scrupulously clean and has its own maintenance staff so, if anything happens, eg. a chip in the paintwork, then this is immediately rectified. A total of 200 staff are employed here and I really do believe that they are well looked after by the owners. Now, for the cost. Oooooh, this is painful, believe me but, if you want luxury, you have to pay for it. The tariffs are based on two sharing and can range from £299 to £780 per night. Yes, you did read that correctly. But, included in these prices, are the use of the 9-hole par 3 golf course, the award winning Spa, hydrotherapy pool and indoor swimming pool. During the summer months the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub are also available. The inclusive rates include continental breakfast and table dhote dinner (to the value of £57.50). Also complimentary is the use of bikes, golf clubs and outdoor tennis courts. A daily newspaper of your choice is also provided. If you want to stay for 5 nights or more then they will give you a 12% discount on the room only rate and 7% discount on the inclusive Sunday-Thursday night prices. If you want to book at the weekend then it is usually for a minimum of two nights (for a bank holiday weekend, three nights) although occasionally single nights can be made available. They also offer special rates and breaks. For more information you can ring the Reception or Reservations on 01425 275341 or visit their website www.chewtonglen.com. They also do various events throughout the course of the year and here are just a few: Christmas celebrations: Lunch Party menu for £37.50 per head; Dinner Party menu for £57.50 per head (both 3 course menus including coffee, mince pies, party hats, crackers and novelties). November 2004 Divas, Diners and Esther Rantzen evening of musical entertainment champagne reception, 3-course dinner and entertainment at £120. Overnight accommodation from £210. These are just a few of the events they are holding for the Autumn/Winter. If you live within a 30 mile radius of the hotel then you are eligible for a CG Card. You pay an annual fee of £40 single, £50 double and you are entitled to:  10% reduction on most breakfast, lunch and dinner menus for up to 8 people  10% discount on the spa and health club treatments  10% discount on hair appointments  20% discount on room only prices  complimentary room hire of the Conservatory Terrace for parties of between 8-20 guests  Two complimentary glasses of champagne when you celebrate your birthday or anniversary  Complimentary birthday or anniversary cake, when you book for lunch or dinner So, my conclusion is this. This grand English country house hotel will provide you with every comfort and indulgence imaginable. It boasts being Michelin-starred, 3AA Rosette restaurant and a selection of sumptuous bedrooms together with a golf course, pool, tennis courts and landscaped parkland and gardens. It is probably the best combination of grand country house and spa facilities. The gardens feature some fantastic sculptures wuch as the Leaping Deer by Claire Norrington which was commissioned to celebrate the opening of the spa in 2003. Guests are totally and utterly spoilt rotten and the staff are very, very warm and friendly. I love to be able to spend a weekend here but, unfortunately, I dont think my finances could stand it! However, if you need to book a country house experience for any visitors to your company, especially the Americans and Japanese, then this is the place to book. I can guarantee they will have an experience they will never forget. And it will be a very pleasant one. The hotel is easily accessible by car. By rail from say London, it takes 1 hour 50 minutes to get to New Milton. The hotel can arrange for a taxi to pick you up. Heathrow is 85 miles and 1 hour 45 minutes drive from the hotel. Southampton Airport is 22 miles, and Bournemouth International Airport 8 miles. The hotel also has a helipad and this does get used very frequently. All in all, this was an experience I am pleased I didnt miss and would love to do it again. Must start saving now!