By Laura Mason
As my foot pushed down harder and faster, and my breath got a little bit harder, I knew I could reach the top of the hill. The kids going ten to the dozen right behind me, together we all stood in silence as we reached the peak and took in the breath-taking autumnal view as the sun set on a ridiculously beautiful Sunday afternoon.
Our jaunt this time had taken us to Hampshire. What’s in Hampshire I hear you say, and something my friends asked me before I decided to pay a visit – well I can confirm, amongst many other attractions, absolutely beautiful countryside. Rolling hills, grazing animals, mirror lakes, so picturesque. It’s a real stillness that provides an escape from the craziness of London just 45 minutes away.
Our luxury escape, the Four Seasons Hampshire hotel, a sprawling countryside house that stands proudly at the end of a beautifully mile long manicured driveway.
Having visited a few Four Seasons resorts across the globe, it’s always interesting to see how they customise the experience to the location. The Four Seasons Hampshire plays very much on the traditional English setting. The Georgian manor house has been lovingly resorted with beautiful marble, glass walkways and a rich traditional English décor.
The staff are dressed head to toe in tweed, and popular activities include outdoors favourites such as horse riding, clay pigeon shooting and tennis.
The attention to detail is truly impeccable with the Four Seasons brand and gives it that wow factor. Upon arrival, cupcakes for the children, not just laid out with their names, but also their interests – Peppa, Lego and Princesses – and a little garden salad for us adults are what truly make this property worth of it’s five stars.
Our room for the night was a stunning Park Suite, a spacious suite that is split between living area with pull out double bed, and adjoining bedroom. The bathroom is large enough for our family of five to camp in for the night! Asprey products and a large walk in shower were absolutely divine, while small touches such as the baby pack of nappies, wipes, and toiletries are a nice touch.
While the hotel has seen an extension, it has been sympathetically done, and all the rooms are complementary to the traditional design. Décor consists of thick quality curtains, varnished wooden flooring, elaborate chandeliers, and historic photos adorning the walls of the house in years gone by.
Wild Carrot Restaurant and Bar
The Wild Carrot underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment just over 12 months ago. Modish and chic, it’s literally a feast for the eyes with red leather booths, herringbone flooring, open kitchen and island bar filled with cocktail creations. Don’t worry, you aren’t limited to carrot soup and carrot cake, it offers up an eclectic mix of the best locally grown and sourced produce to create some mouth-watering British classics.
The pool is a nice size with plenty of space for children to play alongside those using it more for fitness. Encased in a beautiful glasshouse, it brings the outdoors inside. An adults-only outdoor area adjoins the main pool so ideal if you want to escape, or I did pop by to the offset sauna and steam room – bliss. Again, with fantastic the attention to detail – as you walk to the pool area, there’s a basket filled with swim nappies – I just love the consideration for families.
We visited one week ahead of the new launch of a children’s pool. I managed to get a sneak peak and with lots of splash pad elements in the mix, I could hear the giggles in my head. Definitely worth a revisit for us!
Elsewhere there’s a lot to enjoy and take in on the estate. We took the complimentary bikes out twice during our stay. Bike seats, children’s bikes, and adult bikes of all shapes and sizes were available along with helmets. With so over 500 acres to explore, it was a great way to take in some of the topography together.
For our daughter, Grace, the real highlight was the onsite equestrian centre and stables. Visitors and locals are able to take advantage of lessons and riding hacks on the 500-acre estate. Decked out in riding hat, boots and back brace, our guide attentively talked Grace through the caretaking, processes and general knowledge as they trotted round the estate.
I have to mention the kids’ club, Kids for All Seasons. Fully staffed and with a schedule of activity throughout the summer and school holidays it’s a hive of activity. During off-season, it’s open for play with lots of role-play pursuits, board games and colouring. Upstairs, a gaming room is the perfect escape for bigger kids.
If you’re still after more, the hotel can set you up with clay pigeon shooting; yoga; spa treatments; fishing; falconry; tennis, you name it! While the hotel may not be located alongside all the attractions some of it’s sister properties in the UK has to offer, it embraces it’s very own secluded location and brings so much to you, that provides the unique opportunity to fully enjoy every element of the property.
Rooms start from £325 per room per night. For more information, visit www.fourseasons.com/hampshire