Want the most memorable and unusual and absolute glam-camping luxury romantic getaway imaginable? Head to a treehouse suite at Chewton Glen Hampshire, 90 minutes’ drive southwest of London Heathrow (or they will come and get you). Look at the photo, showing Treehouse One (the gal took it from Treehouse Two). There are six treehouses, each with a shared foyer leading to two suites – take the whole, or, if you are a bigger group, take the two treehouses which are connected. What do you get? As you can see, when I was last at Chewton Glen Hampshire the treehouses were still, well, at early construction stage – I look as if I am singing for a recording (they can arrange that, by the way, at Beach Recording Studio, on Chewton Glen Hampshire land). Andrew Stembridge, the big-picture boss of this 130-acre estate, is always looking to create more customer experiences.
Andrew Stembridge has persuaded top sculptor Simon Gudgeon, of Sculpture By The Lakes in Dorset, establishing a sculpture walk here, with stunning pieces by Colin Phillips and Michael Thomas, set in the landscape). For the treehouses, he turned to treehouse specialists Blue Forest, with interiors by Martin Hulbert, who used to work with Mary Fox Linton. Let me describe Treehouse Two, ‘Poplar’. Once inside the suite, you turn immediately left to the second bathroom – and you also find, there, a Swedish (ladder-type) staircase leading to an eyrie loft, ideal for kids, while the steps of the staircase hold really sensible books, say John Le Carré and Niall Ferguson. Talking of kids, they are very strong on Enid Blyton here, and they suggest trips to nearby Corfe Castle, which could have been Kirrin Castle in the Famous Five books. But back to this superb Treehouse. Ahead, as you enter, you have the salon, with full sliding windows on to the big terrace, which has a hot tub and loungers. From the salon, turn left to the bedroom (the bed looks out through an all-glass wall to the terrace and beyond, and you imagine elephants coming to a watering hole any minute).
Through the bedroom is the main bathroom, which is as super as all Chewton Glen’s bathrooms are. Right, what else makes a Treehouse suite so special. See the picture to the left. In all the Treehouses you have a woodburning stove, and breakfast comes – via what I call a ‘cat flap’, others call a ‘butler’s door’ – in a big tartan hamper. Open it and you have fresh juice, pastries, fabulous real bread, designer yoghurt, smoked salmon, waffles. The suite has its own toaster, kettle and a PrimaDonna coffee machine that makes the best coffee imaginable, including grinding the beans (all are DeLonghi). You can also have a Treehouse dinner hamper, say beef carpaccio followed by Christchurch Bay fish pie and then vanilla panacotta. We ate up at the main house – smoked salmon and fish and chips, in a wire tray. Divine. Gosh I love this place.
The main house at Chewton Glen, which goes back to 1732, has 58 rooms and suites, all of which have gorgeous views over the croquet lawns or, say, the new walled garden with a small wedding chapel set among a bed of nasturtiums used to decorate dishes in the Vetiver restaurant (Girlahead tip for connoisseurs, book its wine room for dinner). There are nine holes of golf, and lots of bicycles, and indoor and outdoor tennis courts. Yes, it rains in England from time to time but, no worry, there are all sizes of Wellington (rubber) boots, and they are Hunter, of course. Nothing but the best, here at Chewton Glen Hampshire.
And that extends to the spa of this luxury hotel. I have enthused before about its fabulous indoor pool, with columns and trompe l’oeil around, going up two storeys to a ceiling that looks like blue sky. Adjacent to this is the indoor vitality pool, with an outside hot tub. I would love to be here at Christmas or New Year (their all-in houseparties run from December 24-27, 2013, and from December 31, 2013 to January 2nd, 2014).
This visit I added two extra highlights. First, a Linda Meredith facial should be on every lady’s (and man’s) to-do list. I have known Linda for ages and as well as her salon in London, which counts Lily Allen and Gwyneth Paltrow among its regulars, you can find her facials at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Barcelona or here, at Chewton Glen Hampshire. Lie on the treatment bed, look up at the room’s pale orange quilted ceiling and let Anneli from South Africa work wonders.
Next, head to the spa’s café for what is, undoubtedly, one of the best spa restaurants in the world: the managers are both former chefs, both committed to healthy eating. This is an alkaline buffet, to maintain PH balance. There are fabulous home-made breads, and the salads include pesto couscous, pickled kale and broccoli with almonds. Add smoked salmon (again!) and, say, a brie and camembert and rocket wrap, and perhaps a cheeky monkey smoothie (banana, yoghurt, Chewton Glen honey and buffalo milk) and you are away. Yes, this is the ultimate, overall, romantic experience…