Heckfield Place is cushioned amongst 400 acres of rolling greenery, and a wander around its vast perimeter plays out somewhat like a Jane Austen novel; Emma Woodhouse clothed in white expected any minute to wander, book in hand, out of the towering front doors. We travelled, hastily, to Heckfield Place to enjoy the magical surroundings and we weren’t disappointed. Here are eight reasons to visit…
The country house resides just an hour outside of London amongst secluded Hampshire landscape, as a Georgian property owned by billionaire Gerald Chan. The distance makes for an idyllic getaway from the hustle, bustle and tube chimings of London, without travelling for miles with the likelihood that you’ll be back just in time for an early bed and bath come Sunday evening.
Planning permission to breathe life into the Grade II-Listed property went underway in 2009 but proceedings to get the place up to scratch took a little longer than expected, perhaps due to Chan’s air of perfection and desire to do the job right; something which he certainly achieved.
Heckfield Place was home to the Lefevre family in the 19th century, most famously Charles Shaw-Lefevre, Viscount Eversley, speaker of the House of Commons. Throughout the span of its existence, Heckfield has gathered various outdoor embellishments that add to its charm, including an arboretum and ornamental lake. It’s without a doubt that history lines the walls of the red-brick house, which makes it a pretty special place to reside even if just for the weekend.
Launching in the late summer of 2018, Heckfield Place oozes country home, cosy log fire and plush sofa vibes, with a comfort throughout that comes as no surprise, seeing as designer Ben Thompson worked previously at Studioilse on projects such as Stockholm’s laid-back arts-and-crafts Ett Hem.
Our weekend break at the house saw us whisked into the country lifestyle instantaneously, as porters clad in country gear and Hunter boots, really playing into the stereotype, greeted you and your luggage at the broad doors. Before you know it, you’re seated, tea in hand, amongst log-fires, English oak floors, hand-crafted furniture and Persian rugs in an atmosphere not a far cry from that of Hampshire-based Limewood Hotel, or even Soho House (without the price tag!)
Heckfield Place is not shy of cosy beds, boasting 38 rooms, six Signature suites and a cottage all in all. The elegant and understated room was so intimate and cosy with the largest Master rooms coming equipped with armchairs, sofas, huge and dreamy beds, alpaca hot-water bottles and iPads for in-room information. All of the latter plays into the theme of elegant country home. Some rooms provide expansive views of the grounds whilst others offer airy chambers and generous living spaces, suffice to say no room is without its own unique comfort and allure.
Naturalness is the central theme of Heckfield, promoted through 20th-century English pictures from Chan’s collection and an earthy colour palette splashed throughout. We truly felt at home at Heckfield, struggling to rise up from the sumptuous armchairs in the warmth of the rooms.
The Things To Do
Yet rise up you should, as Heckfield Place provides for a plethora of things-to-do, given its enviable location and Windsor Castle resting peacefully in the distance. The spa with three treatment rooms is your R&R haven for the weekend and, I kid you not, my massage was one of the best I’ve ever had – that coming from someone who can be somewhat partial to one! Expected in 2020 is a larger spa too, named The Bothy, and an infinity pool – currently Heckfield doesn’t offer a pool – which already calls for another visit to the coveted spot. Other amusements come in the form of a gym, screening room and various talks and workshops.
The charming surroundings of Heckfield also make for some refreshing country walks, runs or cycles and, if you’re feeling punchy, why not take a swim in one of the lakes? Suffice to say we avoided the latter, opting instead to head to the bar for a pre-dinner drink.
Events coming up at Heckfield are ranging in abundance; a few highlights include the Tulip Talk by Anna Pavord, a talk on fashion by Anna Murphy, Fashion Director of The Times on the 27th of April, and Best-selling biographer Sally Bedell Smith on The Queen and Prince Charles. There are plenty more Easter offerings to choose from if these don’t tickle your fancy.
You’ll stumble across Marle and Hearth restaurants during your stay – these are the names, not the type of cuisine prepared within! Both restaurants offer a wholly pared by style of cooking and, in keeping with the theme of the hotel, a grand use of seasonal and fresh ingredients taken from the biodynamic farm on the estate. Hearth is Heckfield Place’s wood-fired restaurant and then there’s Marle which provides sweeping views of a centrepiece fountain outside and lovely lakes. There’s a real earthy vibrancy to the food provided in both restaurants, however differing between the two you’d perhaps find Hearth to be the cosier of the two and Marle the lighter.
Skye Gyngell has been on board as Heckfield’s Culinary Director, also of Somerset House’s Spring restaurant, overseeing both restaurants. Her food promotes a real authenticity, grilled creatively over fire. The food is truly as delicious as the setting it’s enjoyed in. If you’re a fan of all things food – and who isn’t – then you’ll relish the breakfast that boasts highlights of honeycomb yogurt with granola, or the afternoon tea which features leaf teas from the Rare Tea Company.
Last, but by no means least, the bar at Heckfield Place was truly spellbinding and a real talking point. The dark blue Moon bar is a place you could probably sit, drink in hand, for a very, very long time – and so we did! The alluring space features a mirror ball and open fire and nine Moon signature cocktails, of which we’d love to make our way through. If a cocktail doesn’t take your fancy though you can turn to wine aficionado Louise Gordon, previously of Limewood Hotel, who will explore Heckfield’s wine-fuelled cellar to find your the ideal grape offering.
As a final verdict, we believed Heckfield Place to be a magical abyss that swept us away from the everyday. It’s excellent value for money, it provides the most picturesque of settings inside and out and the short drive from London places it in the bracket of perfect countryside break and city escape.
Find Heckfield Place cosied up at Heckfield, Hook, RG27 0LD, www.heckfieldplace.com
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