Food & Wine Lifestyle Luxury Hotels Travel Wellness & Spas

Food and fitness at Chewton Glen Hampshire, the English luxury hotel that never stays still

Guarding the steps down into the pool

A bit of art, particularly a statue, gives a stylish welcome to any pool.  Chewton Glen Hampshire’s 55-foot ozone-treated pool is one of England’s indoor swimming sensations (yes, there are others, but this is unique).  Why is it special?

This little girl greets you as you walk down into the water, and as you swim your lengths you look either end to faux two-floor-high columns – with a view one end to stunning gardens and distant trees.  Either side are trompe l’oeil flowers set next to living plants.  Overhead, a Magritte-like ceiling-with-clouds has a central cupola rising to a high window to see blue sky or stars beyond.

Tromple l'oeil complements the real thing, pool-side

And you can pad next door to this luxury hotel’s Orangery vitality area, with at least six different hydrotherapy stations, and, outside, a big hot tub. Back around the vitality pools are Roman-type stone loungers to recover – if you have time.

But the gal is time-short.  I rushed upstairs to chat with Kerry Hudson, manager of Chewton Glen’s spa.  She enthused about the latest addition, coming in January.  BALANCE The Clinic claims to be London’s biggest colonic centre and apparently one of its aficionados is married to Chewton Glen Hampshire’s owner… so, Chewton Glen has bought a colonic machine and it will be offering mini-cleanse days, and three-day residential retreats.

Kerry Hudson heads the massive fitness-wellness complex

For these, you get spa treatments and special juices (no food), which include such essentials as barley grass (beta-carotene, folic acid, pantothenic acid, vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, whew…). They also have lemon and orange rind for antioxidants, and maca for energy, which you need after all that.

Today, however, I ‘merely’ settled for a Linda Meredith face-do using Linda Meredith products.  Linda, who counts Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow among her Beauchamp Place London salon clients, is a dream, and not surprisingly she is  now also working at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona in Spain. Linda did me herself a couple of years ago.

Dutch-owned English 'Champagne-style'

Today I had Kara. I lay in one of the ten milk-chocolate and honey luxury spa rooms and had a lovely little sleep while Kara put a strong Sorisa light on me to identify facial problems. A real pro, she then happily pronounced it ‘great skin’.

At which point it was time for a little aperitif, a glass of the Nyetimber sparkling being promoted by this oh-so-English establishment (this is, after all, where Captain Marryat is said to have written his all-time classic, The Children of The New Forest).  Nyetimber is Champagne-style.

The Sussex vineyard was started in 1988 by two Chicago enthusiasts, Stuart and Sandy Moss, but now it is owned and run by a Dutch lawyer, Eric Heerema, whose winemaker is a Canadian-Brit, Cherie Spriggs.  The result is so successful it is sometimes poured both at 10 Downing Street, official home of David Cameron and, it is said, at Buckingham Palace, home of you-know-who.

Andrew Dubourg's beetroot salad

Food time. The owner of Chewton Glen and his brilliantly-creative onsite MD, Andrew Stembridge, have recently transformed former restaurant and attached conservatory areas into one flowing, multi-room Vetiver Restaurant.

Love the Hollywood-boudoir horizontal ‘haloes’, set in double tiers, as overhead chandeliers. Love the chairs, with oval black-centre backs that have big hooks on the rear, as if for noisy ‘musical chairs’.  Love the table settings, white linens, white china, pale lavender china pots with living green herbs, and pale lavender water tumblers.

Fish and chips (in a fryer-type basket), crispest batter, juiciest cod, want-more fries

LOVE the food, my kind of food (other than Italian, that is).  Some at our table for six started with twice-baked cheese soufflés, went on to duck breast and so on. For me, perfection at this meal was the beetroot salad with goat’s cheese followed by fish and chips, served in a deepfrying-type basket with sides of traditional mushy peas and tartare sauce.  Bliss. And oh the breads, home made in this sensible (that is to say realistic) culinary haven.

They do lots of culinary events here, say learning how to cook a Christmas pudding soufflé. They also have Wine for Women Masterclasses – learn about Yarra’s Innocent Bystander, for instance, on January 16th, 2012…. time to go to bed, gal.