Grand, yet entirely unpretentious, detached from the city, yet surprisingly accessible (located just south of Reading, it’s an easy drive from London), this Hampshire gem immediately impresses. Indeed the Georgian manor house is a Grade II listed property, and you can’t help but feel a sense of its 250 years of history as you pull up the driveway. However, as soon as you make it through the doors, you’re greeted with polished informality, which puts you immediately at ease.
HOME, SWEET HOME
The second we entered the low-key entrance hall of this wonderful family house, we were welcomed with a seasonal cocktail and instructed to treat the entire property as if it were our own. No rooms were off-limits, there were no formal concierge desks or regular hotel lobby trappings – instead, we settled into the luxuriously relaxed, homely atmosphere. We soon set about exploring the countless drawing rooms with their beautiful fireplaces and cosy reading nooks, the boot rooms with wellies in every size – there was even a cake room, which, as you can imagine, I took full advantage of.
Aside from the deeply luxurious beds, which I didn’t want to leave, our room included several spaces for us to enjoy. I loved the little outdoor terrace, with a small table and two chairs – perfect for breakfast à deux. And I definitely made myself at home on the huge sofa in the living area, sitting for hours reading a book and catching up on the newspapers. While the grounds and hotel are incredible, you could also just hole yourself up in your room for the entire day if you wanted to.
For me, what makes or breaks a hotel room is the bathroom. As well as offering complete and utter privacy, I’m also looking for attention to detail and a sense of thoughtfulness. This bathroom did not disappoint, with its deep stand-alone tub and gorgeous beauty products – I always bring my own for a hotel stay, but it’s nice to add to the list! When I was there, the spa hadn’t yet opened, but since then Little Bothy Spa has been unveiled, offering treatments including massages and facials using the Wildsmith Skin range.
FIELDS OF GOLD
Heckfield Place is set in 400 acres of arable land – every inch open for guests to explore – which provides much of the food you enjoy during your stay. We happened upon this magical meadow of chamomile, although everywhere you turn there’s some wild or manicured natural beauty to help you completely unwind from your busy life.
IN FULL SWING
The grounds offer surprises around every corner, and this was one of the most special moments of the trip for me. Right by one of the lakes we found this huge family sized swing, and for once I got to indulge my inner child. As you pushed off, all that was below you was the glimmering water, making you feel like you were almost flying – a total sense of liberation.
FARM TO TABLE
Acclaimed chef Skye Gyngell heads up the team at Marle restaurant, and the menus are superb, offering fresh, seasonal produce harvested from the manor itself. The food is unfussy, yet delicious – at breakfast I fell for the chilli eggs.
Earlier this year, I was invited to stay at the newly opened Heckfield Place in Hampshire with Mr & Mrs Smith – my first port of call when searching for hotels both at home and abroad. My husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary, and it provided the perfect respite from our hectic schedules, instantly transporting us to a tranquil and tasteful home from home. No expense has been spared in the loving restoration of the property, from the vivid blooms placed in every corner to the elegant fixtures and fittings. I just couldn’t wait to explore every nook and cranny of this enchanting hotel…
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