One of the best things about living abroad is that you begin to fall in love with all the things you took for granted growing up. England really is one of the most beautiful of places. It offers the hustle and bustle of captivating London with historic, charming towns and winding countrysides picked right out of Downtown Abbey every other way you turn.
Hampshire, birthplace to Jane Austin and Charles Dickens, is where you’ll find the Four Seasons Hampshire hotel. Just a few years younger and the sight alone could have easily led me to believe it was a castle fit for Kings and Queens. The property is a restored historic Georgian manor house that has managed to maintain it’s old-world charm whilst manifesting into an escape fit for the modern traveler.
I took my step mum for a weekend away before Christmas festivities truly set in and it was just the break we both needed!
We drove 40 minutes from my hometown in Surrey, set for an afternoon of R&R at the Four Seasons spa and dinner in their newly refurbished Wild Carrot restaurant.
Boasting all the Christmas feels, it didn’t take long for us to escape the crisp winds and settle in at home.
The rooms are just as you would expect; full of charm and Georgian influence, complemented by all the touches that make Four Seasons what it is.
Pillows as indulgent as jumping head first into a bed of clouds and linen fit for any royal.
My favourite part though?
Extra wide window seats to enjoy the most serene of views. Whilst we were lucky enough to have clear blue skies in December the following day, I’m equally in love with the slightly hazy, slightly overcast and stormy scene that makes curling up with a book all the more “Holiday” feels.
The spa at Four Seasons Hampshire is a converted 18th-century stable block with modern interiors. I made the all-too-frequent mistake of not leaving enough pre-treatment time for a sauna and vitality pool, but if you’re slightly more organized than me, then I’d recommend soaking up all of their wonderful facilities. (*P.s I’ve been advised by the hotel the vitality pool is out of action till mid-march for enhancements).
We had the signature ‘Hampshire Herbal Massage’ which uses a steamed hot muslin ball compress filled with herbs and flowers from their gardens and surrounding areas. I’ve tried hot stones, cupping, deep acupuncture – you name it! But this was a first. As someone who tends to request the strongest of therapists to get as deep a massage as possible, it’s fair to say this was slightly out of my comfort zone going in with the preconception that a herbal compress might not quite do the job…
Was it relaxing?
Well … that’s a given when you have a steaming hot ball of the most delightful scents filling the room with waves of lavender and thyme. Slightly more hold-my-tongue though, was discovering that an effective muscle-releasing massage isn’t just about pressing a finger as hard as you possibly can. We both came out ready for sleep, for two days straight!
Side note; They also have a collection of the Neom therapies at the spa. I’ve experienced the “Neom Sleep” therapy at another destination and it was worth every penny. Totally unique and utterly relaxing so have a look at if you find yourself in Hampshire!
After a quick pick-me-up earl grey tea looking out over the grounds, Kate and I put on our best (comfiest) winter looks and headed downstairs to the newly refurbished and quite wonderful Wild Carrot restaurant.
All the elegance and splendor without any of the stuffiness. British gastro meets Great Gatsby, named after the white flower found in the hundreds in the surrounding Dogmersfield Park.
Hanging chandeliers light up plush armchairs whilst the uber chic bar area boasts green leather stools and brushed copper shelves stacked with hand-crafted gin bottles that make you feel as though you must try at least 3 before you can say you’ve been there.
We try the “Gutsy Monkey Winter Gin” and the “KI NO BI” from the Kyoto Distillery – Japan’s first for dedicated artisanal gin – both go down far too fast.
If you read my restaurant reviews on the regular, you won’t be surprised to hear I was just a little overjoyed when the chef presented the stand-alone truffle menu. Starters, mains and desserts indulged in foraged truffle. Say no more.
Unfortunately, truffle season has now passed but I’m sure the menu will be back next September.
We mixed between the truffle and the a la carte menu, starting with seasonal rock oysters topped with a generous serving of caviar, organic baked eggs and pappardelle creamy enough to sink a battleship. It was as indulgent and as rich (especially with the added truffle shavings) as you get – and I devoured every single bite.
For mains, Kate and I shared the ‘Dover Sole Meunière’, with sides of fresh green beans and french fries. How I had room for it after that starter is beyond me!
When fish looks that good though …
It was perfection. Delicate flavours that manage to send mini fireworks all over the tongue, full of citrus and salty, light butter notes. Infused with the lemon, parsley and capers; heaven on a plate.
Whether you’re an in-house guest at the Four Seasons or fancy a lunch/dinner away from home in the peacefulness of British Countryside, Wild Carrot is a beautiful choice. We will be back for many a birthday and date-night to come.
One of the best things about being set in 500 acres of Hampshire countryside is that activities like horse riding aren’t out of the norm. With the sun gracing us with the perfect winters day, full of clear blue skies and wispy clouds, we set out for a Four Seasons Hampshire hack.
First call of the day though – an early morning bath in the most enviable of British bathrooms, followed by breakfast heaven in the room. Eggs Benedict, waffles, bowls of berry goodness and home-made granola and hash browns. An exceptional spread, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from the British Hampshire property!
Both Kate and I keenly ticked the ‘beginner’ boxes on our horse riding forms so it ended up being a peaceful walk on horseback through the fields and lakes which suited perfectly. The teachers will adapt to whatever level you are – some of them are professional riders and jumpers so they can cater to all levels.
The stables themselves are something out of Pride and Prejudice; large leather sofas grace the reception room before making your way through to the meticulously organized boot room and out into the stables. The hotel has Barbour jackets and wellies at the ready for guests to borrow.
After the fresh, oxygen-rich air had filled our lungs, our tummies (staggeringly, given the breakfast we had just indulged on!) started to wake up too.
One of the iconic activities at the Four Seasons Hampshire is their quaint afternoon tea in the library room. Warmed by open fires and made festive with decadent gingerbread house displays, we snuggled into a spot by the window to start with a pour of champagne.
Buttery scones served with three types of thick-cut marmalade. Precisely cut sandwiches with all the wonderful fillings like cured-salmon with a hint of horseradish, and a tray of decadent sweets to contribute to the inevitable Christmas pounds!
Not to mention the stars of the show; loose and fragrant tea leaves that filled the room with all the warming smells as they passed through the strainer into delicate teapots.
It is a property that elapses time at a far more peaceful rate than any others. Lazy mornings, indulgent afternoons and a healthy dose of fresh countryside air. I loved our stay at The Four Seasons Hampshire – dinner at Wild Carrot and afternoon tea were particular highlights (but no surprises there being the main food affairs!) – and came away feeling revived with a rich experience.
I would love to know what your favorite countryside stay has been? Do you find quick weekend breaks long enough to really feel relaxed? Please comment below letting me know and if you have any questions about the hotel, I would love to hear from you!
Hello and welcome! I'm Carly, originally from London but currently enjoying a little adventure in Dubai. A travel and wellness blogger exploring the world one step at a time. Think fabulous food at undiscovered gems, unique destinations, skin care obsessions and so much more. This is my life, I hope you enjoy the ride!