…and another, and another – in fact there are another six mini Chewton Glens in the form of the brand new and quite unique luxury Treehouse Suites! This is what dreams are made of!
Emerging through a canopy of trees one will find these sensational suites nestled in ‘Chewton Bunny’, a wooded valley just metres from the main hotel.
On arrival the only indication that guests have of the prestige development is a manicured new juncture off the rolling driveway that leads to, and what will undoubtedly become, some of the most highly sought after living accommodation in the land!
As one would expect these suites leave nothing to be desired. The tree houses are a superbly constructed contradiction of privacy and exposure. Privacy for those wanting to enjoy the blissful peace and silence of the valley, surrounded by nature in the height of isolated yet indulgent surroundings. And exposure for those who want to live outside, on the sweeping balconied decks, in the hot tub, in the canopy with windows wide open to the elements to truly embrace the high life!
The Treehouse Suites cater for couples, families, extended families and friends in an ingenious modular fashion. The largest sleeping seven on two floors and in two adjoining Treehouse Suites and the junior suites sleeping two in ‘half’ a tree house. This is a very, very clever design.
Virtually self-contained one can expect more than your usual Chewton Glen comforts in terms of a small galley kitchen, a wood burner, basic vitals, a fridge and a hamper breakfast service! A lovely touch – each Treehouse Suite has a secret hatch into the galley where Continental breakfast hampers are discreetly delivered each morning, delightful!
Now one doesn’t have to have Bear Grylls tendencies to enjoy the tree houses and the hotel’s facilities are on hand just as one would expect if one stayed in the main hotel. Unwind in the spa and dine in Vetiver – this really is a question of having it all!
So then, to the hotel for a spot of dinner! This evening’s transport could be a buggy or shanks’ pony – either way we arrive at the entrance to the hotel, a reliably charming welcome and to the bar. Still our favourite – so very proper and so very cosy. The bar has a micro life of its own with a distinct character that changes throughout the day as does its moods and clientele.
Then through to the many faces of Vetiver, past the beautifully lit Wine Room, and tonight we are in what I describe as the more ‘formal’ part of the restaurant. As some of you will know this is what was the original restaurant before the introduction of the Vetiver concept in 2011, which saw an injection of citrus vibrancy, a fresh theme and new colour designs throughout. Subtly blend this with a new menu and subsequently a new head chef, Andrew DuBourg, and one has a recipe for continued success.
Andrew’s touches are apparent from receipt of the menu! Some interesting touches such as the Rizi Bizi to start – ‘chicken in the wood’ – a vegetarian dish? Stunning with an Over the Shoulder Chardonnay this worked very well as it did with the classic Chewton Glen Twice – baked emmental soufflé – some things you just can’t resist! The service in Vetiver is an achievement – informed, professional and discreet and there is no mis-interpretation – everyone just knows, it’s intuitive!
The starter menu also displays fruits de mer with lobster and caviar options, Irish Pacific oysters and Poole Bay rock oysters, Dorset crab and Nacarii caviar along with tête du veau and garden salad with elderflower vinaigrette. Dishes stylised on flowers, foraging and garden leaves are representative of the recent developments made in the gardens, which have had kitchen gardens, orchards and flower (edible) beds laid, and rabbit proofed, in the last year. The up side is the self sufficiency of some ingredients and the down side, should you be arriving by helicopter you will have a little further to walk to the hotel than you did on your last visit!
Back to the table, mains include choices from the Grill such as Dover sole, calves’ liver, Angus fillet on the bone and Romsey lamb cutlets. The à la carte mains provide an international choice; Sardinian fish stew, Thai-spiced Christchurch lobster curry – this had an adventurous heat that welcomed with a Tabali Viognier from Chile, tagine of slow-cooked lamb and my selection of loin of rabbit Holstein with a Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir from Australia – the rabbit had a delightful mix of flavour and textures with touches of anchovy – delicious!
Our desserts again demonstrate Andrew’s creativity with the quirky bumblebee – all edible, the pot, flowers and all – really good tasty fun! And the melon soup – a little bit of theatre in the serving and an interesting sweet and sour combination rounded off with a Plantagenet Riesling from Australia.
The design of Vetiver is versatile and so are the menus; one can choose, for example at lunch, a set price three-course menu that encourages a double take for fantastic value – well done, along with a daily Great British Dish too. At dinner one can choose from a four-course summer or winter menu. Lunch sees 80% non-residents dine and at dinner that ratio reverses with the majority being hotel guests.
So much to take in at the Chewton Glen, and more awards; Most Excellent Hotel Award from Condé Nast Johansens, Gold Sustainable Tourism Award for the hotel’s environmental and corporate social responsibility initiatives and an Accessibility Award for companies that go over and above the requirements of the equality Act. Further to this, no sooner had the Tree House Suites been carved into the hotel’s provenance do they achieve ‘Best Hotel Architecture UK’ and ‘Best New Small Hotel Construction and Design UK’ awards.
Well done to managing director Andrew Stenbridge and thank you for your vision and creativity – the Chewton Glen is a stunning experience and one that caters for everyone’s needs – even the badgers agree as they settle into their new homes around the glen after a minor, yet five-star we’re sure, relocation scheme in 2011!