Writer Lydia Swinscoe gets out of the city for a relaxing weekend in the Hampshire countryside
The Four Seasons in Hampshire
Words and photos, Lydia Swinscoe
Whether you live in a sprawling city, cosy town or idyllic village, a weekend away, somewhere remote and beautiful, can refresh and relax anyone after a long, busy week. Short trips within the British Isles are easy to plan and take the hassle of flying out of the equation so we decided to hire a car and get out of town for a few days. The Four Seasons in Hampshire provides the perfect escape, whether you're travelling with children or having a break without them.
Dogmersfield parkland's beautiful highland cattle
The Hampshire Four Seasons hotel is set within the 500 acres of lush Dogmersfield parkland - look out for the beautiful highland cattle as you make your way up the long driveway. Our journey started in central London with a hire car, in just under two hours we were pulling into the car park (after hitting traffic in London, as usual). Southampton is roughly 50 minutes away, and there are two train stations nearby in Fleet and Winchfield.
Driving seems to be the best option unless you're planning on spending the whole time in the hotel grounds. It's good to be able to get out and about and explore the area surrounding the hotel, although the hotel can of course arrange taxis and if you're feeling fancy, a limousine.
The Four Seasons is set in a Georgian manor house, where Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon first met. The main part of the manor houses 11 bedrooms and three suites, whist the adjoining three wings hold a further 119 rooms. The hotel can provide rollaway beds and cribs for children and babies dependent on which room you book.
We stayed in a Grand Manor room at the front of the house with sweeping views overs the fields. A gorgeous roll top bath (again, complete with gorgeous view) was the star attraction of the bathroom, which was also filled with Asprey products and the prettiest orchid. Our room came with a nespresso machine, complementary fruit plate, fresh flowers and complementary newspaper each morning.
The swimming pool and spa facilities really made our stay so relaxing. Each night the 20-meter pool was deserted so we headed down there for a steam, sauna and swim before dinner. There are floats and armbands for children too. Everything is designed for ease and simplicity and the staff were so accommodating during the whole stay.
The Four Seasons, Hampshire
What we did
Wanting to have a relaxed weekend we spent a lot of time walking the surrounding countryside and heritage listed gardens and photographing the gorgeous cows. Days were spent having little trips out to the nearby Jane Austen Museum and small village of Odiham, whilst we lazed away evenings in the pool and spa.
As our visit was quite short we didn't get chance to try out the tennis courts or croquet lawn. There really is so much to do in the grounds of the hotel, you could easily spend a few days without even leaving.
If you do fancy a day trip however, Windsor and Highclere (the setting of Downton Abbey) castles are just 45 minutes away and tickets can be bought from the concierge. The awe-inspiring ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is a 55-minute journey making it easy to visit from the hotel.
What we ate
There are lots of options for eating within the hotel, we didn't manage to try them all as we had our heart set on a Sunday roast at a cosy little pub nearby. Breakfast is a big affair with all the usual choices. On our last morning we ordered breakfast to the room, which was lovely considering our wonderful view. The cocktails in Bar 1086 are pretty and delicious, and bar staff are knowledgeable and extremely tentative and helpful.
Four Seasons Hampshire has that great balance of being perfect for couples wanting to get away, as well as being one of the most family friendly hotels we've visited.
Activities for children really are endless, there's a complementary kids club with games, crafts, kite flying, football, frisbee, bikes and treasure hunts. But perhaps the most exhilarating activity, hidden behind the hotel in the woodland is the Highwire Adventure. Made up of high and low rope courses, both children and adults can traverse the treetops, zip down a 235-meter zip wire or free-fall on a parachute simulator, prices start from £20 per person.
Double rooms at Four Seasons Hampshire start from £295 per night; activities and meals are all extra.
We got a great deal on a brand new VW Golf with Europcar for £21 per day and hire car insurance through ihirecarinsurance.com for just under £9 for three days cover.
Our elegant bedroom at Four Seasons, Hampshire