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Classic Hotel: Chewton Glen, New Milton, England
A luxury country house hotel and spa in the Hampshire countryside
by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

The last time we visited Chewton Glen, our bedroom was up under an eave of the ivied Georgian house. A secluded room it was, and dressed with flouncy English chintzes and white-enameled Chinese Chippendale, all of it brightened by sunlight spilling in through the half-moon of a window. In this afternoon refuge we enjoyed cups of fragrant Keemun tea and a few flaky scones with clotted Devonshire cream while we watched the croquet players in whites maneuvering about on the lawn below. That evening we were to join Chewton Glen's innkeeper, Martin Skan, and his wife, Brigitte, for dinner in the Marryat Room, but the afternoon was ours, my husband's and mine. It had begun with a light lunch of watercress soup with wild mushrooms and a salad of asparagus and pine nuts dressed with sherry vinegar. Afterward, we drove along the sea wall to the waterfront town of Lymington to walk a bit through its Saturday market, then back inland through the pine groves and meadows of the New Forest. We have been going to Chewton Glen for almost two decades, and in this era of the formula English country house, it is always a particular pleasure to arrive at the distinctive, comfortable, and unpretentious house in New Milton, so close to the sea in Hampshire that you can smell the salt, and yet close the untouched woods of William of Normandy's New Forest.

Never, ever, journey to Chewton Glen alone, for it is a place whose quiet sensual joys are best enjoyed in company. Its parlors and lounges, furnished with club chairs and deep sofas, are brimming with sprays of fresh flowers. Oil paintings and old etchings are set off nicely by the antique Turkish carpets bordered by floors of highly polished oak. Just off the dining room is a new greenhouse-like extension where you may dine among a forest of plantings; adjacent to the greenhouse is Chewton Glen's stone terrace and heated swimming pool, part of the hotel's Roman-like spa.

Aside from croquet, there is golf on the hotel's nine-hole course or walks in the woods or to Christchurch Bay. If you like the idea of touring — Stonehenge, the Salisbury Plains, and Bournemouth are close by — a hotel car is available and your Chewton Glen driver will find, if asked, a marvelous streamside pub. If you choose to tramp through the forest with its roaming deer, you can have Wellington boots, in your size, sent to your room. Chewton Glen has 55 rooms and thirteen suites; when you arrive you find leaded crystal decanters of sherry, thick comfortable robes, Crabtree & Evelyn Swiss goat milk shampoo, and so thoughtful, a pair of reading glasses. Notes of welcome greet you. Other notes suggest that you might notice that your coffee table has been rearranged, the better to set out your breakfast the next morning.

At dinnertime the day of our arrival, we went down to the Marryat Room, where the sommelier and chef Pierre Chevillard, holder of a Michelin star, preside. Our first course, tarragon-laced poached lobster, was served with a somewhat rare 1978 Chateau Y, that fruity, dry white Bordeaux bottled, in good years, by Chateau d'Yquen. With our saddle of hare dressed with sage butter, we had both a 1971 Richebourg du Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and a 1971 La Tache, also a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Incredible! A 1976 Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive from Jean Hugel accompanied our biscuit léger aux fraises des bois, its Alsatian sweetness blending beautifully with the tiny wild strawberries. Then we had coffee and said good-night, because we wished to have our Armagnac and sherry in our room. Which is what we always do at Chewton Glen.

Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa
http://www.chewtonglen.com/
New Milton, Hampshire, BH25 6QS
Tel: 00 44 1425 275341
U.S. Toll Free Tel: 1 800 344 5087

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