Ten Places for a Perfect Weekend in Hampshire
by Natalie French (April 2012)
Hampshire is hot right now. Its handful of uber-sexy boutique hotels, with sumptuous spas to match, are coaxing discerning folk away from the big smoke and into the ‘green county’. Beyond the five-star luxury, you can explore elegant historic houses that inspired books and films; discover secret gardens; and foodies can feast on ultra-fresh, locally-inspired Michelin-starred menus. Just over an hour from London, you can lose yourself in 94,000 acres of ancient English Forest, dotted with 4,000 wild roaming ponies. What better place to while away a weekend?
Showing below are all 10 records in "Ten Places for a Perfect Weekend in Hampshire"
Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst
Sleep... This indulgent heritage hideaway at the heart of the New Forest is a little bit sexy. Despite the lavish appearance, there is no need to stand on ceremony – which is exactly why Lime Wood appeals. Here, you can don your dressing gown and smugly sip bubbles on your topiary adorned terrace and no one will bat an eyelid. Opt for a Coach House suite, situated over two floors, with shabby-chic interior, perfectly plumped pillows and a bath big enough for three.
Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst
Feast... The Pig Hotel is a foodie’s haven surrounded by the 1000 year old New Forest National Park. Chef James Golding, whose CV includes the Ivy, Caprice and Soho House New York, produces an ever-changing menu, using home grown delights unearthed by his forager and kitchen gardener that day. When it comes to the dishes, the name is a bit of a give-away - expect lots of piggy-inspired creations such as Saddleback Crackling & Crab Apple Sauce and Slow Roasted Pork Belly.
Unravel... Unwind Roman-goddess style at the sumptuous Chewton Glen Hotel Spa. Mixing up divine tromp d’oeil Corinthian columns with a state of the art hydrotherapy spa pool – you can expect ultimate luxury. Float in the 17-metre ozone treated pool and laze sloth-like in the aromatherapy sauna and crystal steam rooms. If you’re not deeply relaxed already, the Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage will do the trick. Lie back in one of the ten treatment rooms and feel flowing strokes from the soles of your feet to the palms of your hands.
Sherborne St John, Basingstoke
Marvel... King Henry VIII graced The Vyne with his regal presence on no less than three occasions. This stunning 16th century National Trust house is also home to a fearsome looking solid gold ring which wouldn’t look out of place around the neck of Golum! Dating back to the 4th or 5th century, the ring is said to carry a curse after it was stolen – and it is claimed that this provided the inspiration for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. If that wasn’t enough name dropping, the beautiful grounds with ornamental lake, walled garden and ancient woodland also inspired the works of Jane Austin.
Minley Road, Fleet
Play... North Hants Golf Club has a rep as one of the finest courses in the South East. Justin Rose learnt his game here as a junior member and still has links to the club – giving it a little edge over its neighbouring courses. The charm factor comes from its undulating course with large greens and a number of long par fours – offering a difficult, yet rewarding challenge. The club is also home to two national amateur events: the Hampshire Hog and the ladies 36-hole Hampshire Rose.
Explore... Downton Abbey fans from across the globe have been flocking to Highclere Castle for a good nosey, ever since it became the set for the Edwardian upstairs/downstairs drama. Home to the Carnarvon family since 1679, if the spectacular castle doesn’t set your pulse racing the Capability Brown inspired gardens should. Wander amongst roses, lavender and summer wild flowers or behind the enormous yew hedge you’ll find the gate to the exquisite Secret Garden.
John Montagu Building, Beaulieu
Excite... The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu is world renowned for a very good reason, with a collection of 250 vehicles from 1895 to today; it is also home to a few corkers from the big screen. To celebrate 50 years of Bond films, this year the museum will exhibit 007’s most iconic vehicles, from cars to jets. ‘World of Top Gear’ also pulls in the crowds, as does Ron Weasley’s ‘Flying’ Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Deerleap Lane, Ashurst, Southampton
Hang out... Covering 25 scenic acres, the New Forest Wildlife Park is a great family day out. The park boasts 12 species of owl, a European wolf enclosure, enormous bison and many indigenous species, such as the highly endangered Scottish Wildcat - you can also pet the surprisingly chilled free-roaming deer. Four species of otter call this place home, including the largest and rarest of all, a pair of playful endangered Amazonian Giant Otters (Akuri & Simuni).
Cathedral Office, 9 The Close, Winchester
Soak up... Meander through the charming cobbled alleyways in Winchester and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the magnificent medieval Cathedral. Stop to see the stained-glass Fisherman’s Chapel, a place of pilgrimage for all anglers across the globe and book a crypt tour to see British sculptor, Anthony Gormley’s solitary life-sized man contemplating the water held cupped in his hands. If the rains have fallen, the crypt can flood, leaving the ‘Sound II’ up to his knees in water.
14 Southgate Street, Winchester
Drink... Just a stone’s throw from Winchester High Street, this Georgian hideaway exudes understated chic. The bistro, with its simple wooden tables and chairs and European menu, could be straight out of Paris and is perfect for a lazy lunch. Once you’re contentedly stuffed, retreat to the cosy Drawing Room with a bottle of wine from the extensive list. The comfy leather sofas with a scattering of cushions offer optimum lounging under the beady eye of the resident buffalo head – allowing you to thumb through the mountains of magazines at your leisure.
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