Natalie French

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Rolling countryside, ancient woodland and 230 miles of coastline – Hampshire’s got the weekend break in the bag. Beyond the landscape, there’s the local produce - Buffalo mozzarella, watercress and eye-watering wasabi. Not forgetting the vines… with grape-growing conditions similar to that of the Champagne region, no less, the county is dotted with vineyards producing award-winning sparkling wines. Now you just need a country bolthole and, unsurprisingly, Hampshire has that sorted too. 

Frequented by A-listers, Chewton Glen is situated on the Hampshire/Dorset border, on the edge of the New Forest, and stone’s throw from the Beach. This quintessentially British country pile sits in 130 acres of gardens and is home to an orchard of over 200 fruit trees and 70 beehives. The five million resident bees pollinate the wildflowers that surround the house and provide honey for the kitchen. Guests can stay in the main hotel or retreat to the canopy in the exquisite Treehouse Suites. Keep an eye out for TV Chef, James Martin, who oversees The Kitchen – an onsite meat, eat and cook venue.

Don’t miss… the newly refurbished spa with elegant 17-metre indoor pool and luxury treatments from Natura Bisse?.

For a true taste of country living, set the sat nav’ for the stunning village of Faccombe on the North Downs. The newly renovated Jack Russell has become a firm favourite with countryside lovers, plus it’s super dog friendly. In fact, all the bedrooms are named after dogs - from the largest ‘Great Dane’ with roll top bath and floor-to-ceiling doors leading to a glass balcony, to the ‘Chihuahua’ – with sunrise views over the deer park (Keep an eye out for the flock of rare white deer). Food is as local as it gets - from the Faccombe Farm to the table - including organic fruit and vegetables to venison and game. Rare breed Dexter Beef is sourced from just down the road at Highclere.

Don’t miss…
the beautiful 5K loop from the pub around Faccombe. At the right time of year, you’ll pass swathes of aromatic wild garlic. 

At the end of a windy drive, you’ll find the Victorian-era mansion house, set in 66-acres of manicured gardens. If you can, book one of the newly decorated mansion suites - The State Suite has its own lounge and roll-top bath, or Room 6 with its enviable vista views. You may well spot a private helicopter landing on the lawn. Stroll around the serene Water Garden or head to the Boathouse Lake for insta-worthy views of the hotel. Come autumn, Virginia Creepers climb the red-brick mansion and Acers and Ornamental Cherries burst into life.


Don’t miss… in the warmer months the outdoor pool is the place to be - ideally with a cocktail in hand. 

Set in the very heart of the New Forest, Careys Manor is a great place to unravel and recharge. Nature is truly on your doorstep and you’ll often spot New Forest ponies on the hoof and the odd donkey plodding past. The rooms are all uniquely decorated and there’s three restaurants to choose from but the Zen Garden Thai is a must.


Don’t miss… The Thai-inspired SenSpa. Float around in the hydrotherapy pool, loosen tight muscles with a Traditional Thai Massage or book the Rhassoul private chamber – for a concoction of steam and mud for two.

Located in the rolling hills of the Candovers, The Woolpack Inn rocks its own description as ‘a British dining room with bedrooms’. There’s seven double en-suite rooms to be precise, all with home-comforts and aptly named after game birds. Dog friendly, as expected, it’s also a popular spot for passing cyclists, exploring the area.  Having recently welcomed Head Chef, Luke Stradling, The Woolpack’s new menu is a source of excitement. Expect local game, trout and watercress from the neighbouring beds. There’s also a tradition stone baked outdoor wood-fired pizza oven.


Don’t miss… there’s a promise of a tasting menu in the not so distant future. 

Take forest bathing to the extreme and find a moment of calm beneath 270-hectares of super-tall beech trees at Blackwood Forest. All 60 cabins come complete with hot tubs and you can order an in-cabin spa treatment. If you fancy sampling a local tipple, there are plenty of local vineyards, distilleries & breweries within a short drive. With walks straight from your doorstep, dogs will love the location too and there are some dog-friendly cabins onsite.


Don’t miss… The Mini Forest Ranger activities for the little ones and Forest Survival sessions for the grown-ups. 

Lined with Giant Redwoods and Douglas Firs, the approach to Rhinefield House truly sets the scene. Hidden away deep in the New Forest National Park, the 4 red star hotel is wonderful place to stow away for the weekend and switch off. With 50 bedrooms, there’s something to suit everyone, including spacious family rooms. Nudge up the to a Junior Suite for roll-top baths and magical views of the ancient forest.


Don’t miss… If the sun is shining, dine out on the terrace for views across the ornamental ponds and gardens. 

This Georgian manor was built in 1795 and was once frequented by legendary author, Jane Austin, who was a friend of the then owners. After a major restoration in 2014, Oakley Hall has been restored to its former glory and now has 50 bedrooms and suites with views over the 315-acre grounds. Guests can enjoy a drink in the 1795 Bar & Lounge or feast at the 2 AA Rosette Glasshouse Restaurant. Afternoon Tea here is popular and you can try your hand at clay pigeon shooting.


Don’t miss… A Gin Cocktail Masterclass at the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery – it’s just 5 miles from Oakley Hall, so it would be rude not to.  

Tucked away in a beautiful corner of the Hampshire countryside - close to fields of pick-your-own sunflowers and pumpkins - The Bourne Valley Inn is a family-friendly British pub offering cosy rooms with elegant rustic charm.  You can expect lots of thoughtful extras, from in-room Teapigs tea or cafetieres – so you can enjoy your morning brew in bed, to vegan bath & body products. For a small extra charge, furry friends get their own beds, water bowls, biscuits and a Snuffle bear - cute. The food here promises to give a respectful nod to the seasons and the local farms – freshly caught fish is a speciality and is smoked and cured onsite. 


Don’t miss… The yummy breakfast menu - containing everything from scrambled duck eggs to a classic bacon butty.