“Now this is what they call bucolic” said my companion as we meandered along narrow country lanes towards the Four Seasons Hampshire.
Barely an hour’s drive from London, yet a hundred miles away in your mind, you are greeted by an imposing manor house with the countryside very much at its feet.
The restored Georgian manor and its new wings contain 111 rooms and 22 suites amongst two hectares of parkland. The rooms are modern traditional in style, with our room very much on the traditional side, which is exactly what you’d want from a manor house room in the middle of the main house with glorious views of the fields directly in front of you.
The Four Seasons Hampshire offers a range of country pursuits – an on-site equestrian centre with 6 horses and 6 ponies, clay pigeon shooting and falconry. But you’ll probably want to wrap up in your scarves, gloves and wellies and make your way past ducks, rivers and gorges, jumping over fences and splashing in puddles of water as you explore the grounds of the hotel.
Well, that’s what the country’s for, right? We did just that before making our way to the spa to steam, scrub, bathe and relax.
The spa is housed in the 18th Century stable block with the large indoor pool blending in to the warmer outdoor pool, which could do with being a few degrees warmer in winter for the contrast from the bitterness outside.
The Four Seasons group is known for its service, and this shone through at every level at the Four Seasons Hampshire. From the simple ‘welcome back, Mr Thomas’ at the front desk, to the warm, friendly greeting at the spa and attentive, yet unobtrusive, service at dinner.
The Seasons Restaurant is designed not to offend, but I was pleasantly surprised to find accomplished cooking that would hold its own against some of the best of its kind back in the capital.
While the presentation and the live piano music at first seemed a little dated, it also seemed just right for the setting, and the cooking was highly accomplished, with dessert being a particular highlight.
On Sundays, the hotel offers a Farmer’s Market lunch – to describe it as an all you can eat buffet would be doing a huge disservice. Yes, you can eat all you want and yes, you do serve yourself, but there’s some real quality ingredients and cooking – from cold fish to 5 different meat roast dinners with countless vegetables, to a dedicated cheese trolley, cold meats, a huge dessert table and special sweets for the kids.
No wonder one of the guests flew in and out by helicopter for lunch.
The Four Seasons Hampshire provides us Londoners with everything we want from the countryside – open fields stretching into the distance with a warm fire to return to, and somewhere to relax, eat and drink like a lord of the manor. And what a manor to call your own for the night.
For further information on the Four Seasons Hampshire or for special privileges when you book, please contact your concierge. If you would like more inspiration, read our guide to the best luxury hotels near London.
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