The lowdown For hard-working urbanites, there is little more indulgent than escaping the rat race and polluted city for a weekend of country air and old-English elegance. For said city dwellers, the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is their Mecca. Whether it’s a weekend of country activities or a romantic spa break a deux that you fancy, this charming converted Georgian mansion – just an hour’s drive from London - has everything you expect from a countryside retreat, but with all the luxury and impeccable service that Four Seasons hotels are renowned for.
The rooms All 133 rooms and suites achieve a rare and perfect balance - they’re enormous yet cosy; traditional yet complete with mod cons; decadent yet full of old-world charm. With their lavish furnishings - chandeliers hang above grandiose beds - and chocolate box views from huge sash windows, the rooms are so plush there’s a danger you’ll never want to leave this hotel. It will be game over when you get a glimpse of the marble en-suite bathroom and free standing roll top bath - you’ll be begging them to let you move in.
Wining and dining Line your stomach for a day of activities with the fantastic buffet breakfast - Bircher muesli and fresh fruit salad if you’re feeling healthy, delicious eggs benedict or a full English if you fancy something naughtier. Get your vitamin fix with their selection of freshly squeezed juices, which includes a daily special (for me it was a beautiful purple concoction of beetroot, watermelon and apple). If a lazy weekend is what you had in mind, take it to a different level by skipping the buffet and ordering Belgian waffles with maple syrup, fruit compote and clotted cream to be served to you in bed. Surely the most luxurious start to a day imaginable?
At lunch head to the hotel’s Bistro for a hearty yet relaxed lunch, or go for fresh healthy fare in Café Sante, the conservatory restaurant adjacent to the spa. In the evening, relish the exceptional French-European dishes served in the contemporary yet elegant Seasons restaurant. Appropriately, the menu changes with the seasons - the beef fillet with brisket Wellington, red cabbage and glazed root veg was the most deliciously comforting winter dish I could have wished for. With a wine list that is extensive and varied, wine buffs will be in their element, and with a delicious selection of deserts, all of your sinful desires will be catered for.
What to do Unleash your inner country bumpkin by asking the concierge to arrange a morning of horse riding, fishing or clay pigeon shooting. Carry on the wholesome fun by taking out one of the hotel’s mountain bikes in the afternoon and exploring the 500 acres of estate. Don’t worry if the weather is colder than you’d packed for - the hotel staff are on hand with Barbour jackets to keep you warm and toasty. If you want to stay active, but within the cosy confines of indoors, there’s a top-class gym complete with personal trainers on hand to assist you. For a less strenuous and more holiday-friendly workout, opt for a relaxing yoga or Pilates class in the Zen studio. Follow your workout with a dip in the glass-covered indoor infinity pool, where your inner child will be highly entertained by the fact you can swim straight from the indoor pool, through an opening, to the heated outdoor pool.
If you’re of the opinion that a weekend away should involve nothing more strenuous than climbing on to a massage bed, then you won’t be disappointed. The spa - located in a converted stable block - offers a delicious array of bespoke signature treatments using Espa products. If it’s self-indulgence you’re after, go for the personalised ‘Four Seasons retreat’ treatment: body exfoliation, full-body massage and Asian head massage. Two hours of utter (clean) hedonism.
Finally, if you’re anything like me, you will squeal with delight when you meet the cutie pie that is Oliver Beckington, the hotel’s resident dog. If you do nothing else during your stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, make sure you take this beautiful black lab for a stroll around the gardens. I guarantee that a bit of time with man’s best friend plus a good dose of clean country air will have you trotting back to the city with a spring in your step.
The details Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, Dogmersfield Park, Chalky Lane, Dogmersfield, Hook, Hampshire RG27 8TD, tel: 0252 853000. Rates start from £245 per room per night on a room only basis (including taxes). Visit fourseasons.com/hampshire or call 00800 6488 6488 for more information.
By Sarah Statman