June 18, 2013
Chilling out in Chewton Glen
A country house hotel with a holistic approach? The Hemsley girls promise it's not all Birkenstocks and mung beans
Our London editor Jasmine Hemsley and photographer Nick Hopper (it was his birthday!) hit the road for a jaunt in the forest, just 90 miles from the center of the city. But, as Jasmine reported back post-trip, the sprawling estate—complete with tree houses—trades roughing it for rustic luxe. Here, her dispatch from Chewton Glen, along with the recipe for their favorite chestnut, onion, and fig salad to get a little taste of the trip.
Nestled in the beautiful New Forest you’ll find a whole new type of tree house experience. Forget rickety log shacks—this is high-end luxury among the trees—with resident wildlife, stunning scenery, and a large hot tub to truly appreciate the view.
Chewton Glen is the classic luxury British country house hotel, enjoying a reputation as one of the U.K.’s first and finest. The last few years have seen the hotel adapting with the times and adding a new more holistic twist to the traditional, not only with its new treetop accommodations but also with its food and spa treatments. Together the executive chef, head gardener, and spa director have updated the experience, including more produce grown on-site to enhance the hotel’s ecosystem and provide guests home-grown food on the table and hand-picked wildflowers in their rooms. (The wildflowers also feed the 20 bee hive colonies that supply raw honey for guests—a lovely gift to take home!)
So how best to spend your day? We would recommend an early morning dip in the ozone-treated pool, followed by the all singing and dancing breakfast in the hotel restaurant before lazily wandering over to the spa.
At the spa, lose yourself with an Ila Kundalini back treatment or go all out and choose the Ila Bio Rhythm—you won’t regret it! At Hemsley & Hemsley we share a similar ethos to Ila, to look beyond just the legal requirements of an organic label. This is a company that cares and goes to great lengths to gather the purest ingredients and harness the vibrations of nature—all you have to do is kick back and surrender to the healing hands of impeccably trained therapists.
You’ll find a deliciously healthy, post-spa lunch at the Alkaline pool bar—so tasty we ordered it again the same evening! A smorgasboard of delicious salads went leaps and bounds above the typical spa fare and was definitely our type of food. For a beautiful dinner, Vetiver is incredible—it’s a “Three-Star Sustainability Champion” in the Sustainable Restaurant Association star-rating scheme, which is the highest award possible. You can walk, or a golf buggy will to take you down if it’s door-to-door service you fancy. Or try room service—a trunk of goodies delivered through a hatch in your treehouse, straight into your larder!
Courtesy of Executive Chef Luke Matthews, we have the recipe for our favorite salad on the Alkaline pool bar menu. It’s a dish that ticks all the boxes.
Chestnut, Onion, and Fig Salad
½ white onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 cup hot water
75 gm cooked chestnuts
8 fresh/dried figs, sliced
2 large handfuls of baby spinach or rocket
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp honey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Marinate the thinly sliced onion in vinegar and hot water. Rinse and dry the salad leaves. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper while drizzling a small amount of olive oil a little at a time. Toss with the rest of the ingredients and serve.