Growing up as a country bumpkin in Bournemouth, it was normal for me to throw on a pair of Hunter wellies before driving down to the stables to tend to the horses. Luscious grass, bottle green foliage and absolute serenity was something I took for granted until I moved to London. Now i’m often faced with the hustle, bustle and the fast paced lifestyle that Londoners lead. Sometimes you just need that country escape to regain some headspace and enjoy some well deserved down time.
When I was invited to spend the evening trying the new Four Seasons Hampshire Seasonal Socials, I was over the moon because it also included an overnight stay. Four Seasons Hampshire is a hotel that I have been dreaming about for a very long time and my chance to visit couldn’t have come at a better time too.
If you’re a regular guest of Four Seasons’ hotels, you will know that the majority of the properties have quite a deal of history behind them. Four Seasons Hampshire was once a Georgian country Manor House owned by a very rich family who used it as their family home. The Manor House itself sits on 500 acres of historic parkland that surrounds the house, all now belonging to the hotel itself. A few of the original features of the Manor House still remain, including the 16th century dovecote. The Manor House opened as a Four Seasons hotel opened back in February 2005 and it has just passed its twelve year anniversary.
As you approach Four Seasons Hampshire you instantly feel the country vibes as you drive along country roads with fields of livestock and wild berry bushes scattered around the roadside before turning into the hotel. Driving through the satin black gates with a beaming golden sign reading ‘Four Seasons Hotel’, we drove up the long track that leads up to the gorgeous Manor House. You the first thing you spot to your right is the equestrian centre and all their resident horses. As an equestrian myself, it got me jumping up and down in my seat in the car. This was my idea of heaven, my favourite luxury hotel group, horses, green grass and fresh air.
As you jump out of the car, you’re greeted by dapper gentleman dressed in tweed jackets and cream trousers, who picked up our luggage out of the car and escorted us to the check-in desk. The fresh scent of the hotel and the sight of a roaring log fire was the perfect welcome, especially when it was 2 degrees outside.
Arriving quite early in the morning, Four Seasons Hampshire granted our request for an early check in. Once we sorted out the small details at the check-in desk, Binny and I took a perch in the drawing room just until someone from the check-in desk could escort us to our individual rooms. The decor in the drawing room was classic and absolutely gorgeous, keeping to the country-esque theme of the hotel.
We were residing in the East wing of the hotel, which is part of the original Manor House. We were given the gorgeous Heritage Junior Suites which had gorgeous views of the estate grounds, complete with a stunning marble bathroom and stand alone roll top bathtub.
The Heritage suites were huge and just perfect for someone like myself that truly appreciates a spacious room. The rooms had lovely cream, chalk white, wood brown and gold tones that ran through the rest of the hotel too. My bedroom had a large floral tapestry that sat behind the ultimately large and comfortable king size bed. I’m so in love with Four Seasons beds, especially the massive branded feather soft pillows – you can always predict the most restful night sleep in a Four Seasons hotel bed.
Nothing says welcome to your room like a vase filled with fresh, vibrant flowers. Even a boy like myself can appreciate flowers being left for them, especially as they smelt so good.
There was also a defined seating area and table area that could be the perfect spot to work, should I have brought my laptop along. Instead the glass covered desk was being made useful by housing the much needed Nespresso machine and various other appliances and amenities, including some welcome amenity of yummy Goat’s cheese, grapes nuts and chutney.
Next to the desk was the sliding door that opened up to the bathroom of marble dreams. It reminded me of my stay at Four Seasons Lisbon, except the bathroom had a lovely soft strawberry pink marbling.
The amenities at Four Seasons Hampshire were Asprey, specifically the Purple Water range. I loved them because they had the sweet, floral scent to them that just makes it all the more enjoyable to use.
In addition to the standalone bath, there was a separate shower that had a strong rain shower head too.
The breakfast selection at Four Seasons is enough to set you up for the day. There is a huge selection of different breakfast items and the Wild Carrot chefs are more than happy to cater those with different dietary requirements when ordering off the a la carte menu.
What are your usual breakfast choices? Are you sweet or savoury? Naughty or good? There was a huge selection of pastries, cheeses, meats and breads but also some healthy granolas, flavoured yoghurts and classic cereal choices.
I normally start with fruit, it is a habit I have fallen into when traveling and enjoying hotel breakfasts. Maybe it is so that I don’t feel so bad about indulging in something a sweet after. I went for some pink grapefruit, honey dew and cantaloupe melon, pineapple and watermelon before having some wheat-free blueberry and Nutella pancakes. I’ve never had pancakes quite like it – the Nutella was melting inside from the warmth of the pancakes.
Binny on the other hand went for classic eggs and soldiers, a classic off-menu order that the team were happy to accommodate for. We were shortly joined by Laura from Heroine in Heels and Angie from SilverSpoon London who went for lighter options of salmon and toast.
Spa & Gym Facilities
The hotel had an extensive range of spa and leisure facilities including an indoor pool, steam room, sauna, outdoor hydropool and a huge list of different massage treatments.
As it was so cold outside, the steam and sauna rooms definitely gave us a sense of comfort, as if we were basking under the sun in the Mediterranean. Total bliss!
The gym area was larger than I expected it to be, complete with a huge range of weights, different weight machines, a studio for yoga and classes (with complimentary water and towels), along with a couple of personal trainers to help guests during their workouts. My favourite thing was that the treadmills had Netflix on them too, allowing you to catch up with your favourite TV shows whilst you work out.
They even have a lovely Revitalise café in the spa area for those healthy post work out meals or to sit somewhere to have some quiet time with a coffee before going for a relaxing swim.
Four Seasons Hampshire have an fantastic selection of outdoor activities to make the most of the space they have and countryside vibes. What about trying something a little different? Perhaps canal boating, clay pigeon or skeet shooting, a game or two of croquet, falconry or even fishing? I for one was smitten with the equestrian centre and told myself i’ll come back in the summer and go for a hack through the countryside in the sunshine. Holidays provide the perfect opportunity to start learning to ride with one of the equestrian centres riding instructors and there is no better place to do it than Four Seasons Hampshire.
If sport isn’t quite your thing, you can still borrow a pair of Hunter wellies and a Barbour jacket from the concierge and have a lovely, peaceful stroll. You never know which of the others Four Seasons Hampshire resident animals you may come across…
You may even be able to persuade the hotel manager, Lynn to let you take the resident hotel dog, Oliver out for a walk with you too.
Wild Carrot Restaurant & Lounge
If the Seasonal Socials experience and breakfast experience at Wild Carrot wasn’t enough to make us love the restaurant, it just got a whole lot better. Binny and I experienced the lounge for lunch when we arrived and were completely in love. The lunch menu in the lounge was delectable and ideal for a proper country style lunch with a couple of cocktails made the talented bar team.
I ordered an espresso martini and Binny went for her usual, a classic mojito.
Binny and I went for a true British choice of fish and chips with a side of mushed garden peas and tartare sauce whilst Alie had a yummy looking crab club sandwich. The perfect lunchtime setup.
The lounge itself is absolutely gorgeous, I could have easily just sit in the corner of the library area or in front of the open fire with a book and a cocktail just letting time whizz by me without a care in the world.
Our final experience in Wild Carrot was the epic brunch they put on during the weekend and trust me, this would be enough of a reason to book your escape over a Saturday.
We ordered the entire brunch menu, so we could try everything on offer. Don’t worry, there was 5 of us eating so it was totally justified. Wild Carrot sure know how to put on a brunch though.
Starting off with some boozy cocktails to get started and cure any hangovers from the night before with a typical ‘hair of the dog’.
We all managed to order on of the bubbles based cocktails available by complete coincidence. I had the Tintoretto which was a mixture of pomegranate juice and prosecco. The girls ordered the Royal Gift which was homemade blackberry liqueur with prosecco, Raspberry Fizz which was raspberry puree, vanilla syrup, Chambord, fresh raspberry and prosecco, Chynar which was Chynar, orange marmalade, Peychaud’s Bitters, orange zest and prosecco and Mimosa which was fresh orange juice and prosecco.
There was poached eggs with homemade sourdough served with avocado, roast cherry tomatoes and chilli salsa and we ordered one extra with bacon on top for those that wanted it.
Crab omelette with guacamole, a dish that I haven’t ever seen made like this but it was a real winner around the table.
Spinach pancakes with smoked salmon and crème fraîche and watercress, regularly incorporating popular local ingredients into the dishes.
Super fruit granola made with manuka honey, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, goji berries, blueberries, chia seeds, almonds and coconut yoghurt.
Sweetcorn fritters with feta, spring onions, girolle mushrooms and maple syrup. I think this was my favourite savoury dish of the all.
However, if you have a sweet tooth like me and prefer your brunches a little more indulgent and sugary, these dishes will be right up your street…
French toast with cinnamon, strawberries and sweet and silky whisky maple syrup, so good!
Ricotta pancakes with berry blast, cocoa nibs and passionfruit. Definitely the more exotic way of having pancakes but the ideal holiday treat.
The oreo waffles had everyone going ‘woooow’ around the table because they looked absolutely fantastic and tasted just as good. Served with Chantilly cream, Nutella, vanilla ice-cream, grilled hazelnuts, caramelised popcorn and meringue it made for the ultimate sweet brunch treat.
Overall Experience at Four Seasons Hampshire
Hand on heart, I think Four Seasons Hampshire is my favourite UK hotel I have visited yet. I fell head over heels for this gorgeous country hotel. If I could move in I would. From the truly exceptional Four Seasons service to fabulous interiors, a range of activities indoors and outdoors to the brilliant food and drink offerings, it truly is the most dreamy UK escape. I can already tell this won’t be the first and last time I visit Four Seasons Hampshire and it is certainly a hotel that holds a lot of special memories for me too. A must visit!!
Until next time…