As a getaway from my week-long London getaway, I booked one night here online. I first heard about this hotel on a show on the Tennis Channel about tennis-friendly places around London. I booked a Friday night stay, which turned out to be on the cusp of the hotel's transformation from a tranquil midweek escape for adults to a raucous child-centric weekend getaway for London families. Actually, the week after my stay was a half-term holiday for kids, so the entire week was probably quite noisy. Fortunately, my stay was fortuitously timed so that it was pretty peaceful and enjoyable.
The hotel sits on about 500 acres seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but actually about and hour outside London. No wonder so many Londoners enjoy staycations here. The main building is an 18th century Georgian Manor House that has served as a residence, school, and business before becoming a hotel.. Three additional wings were built behind the house, plus a spa was built in what was originally a stable block, also 18th century.
I took the train from Waterloo Station in London to Fleet Station, about a 50 minute ride, and then a 10 minute taxi ride to the hotel along narrow residential roads. From the hotel's entry gate to the front door, one passes gentle hills, stables, pastures with grazing cattle, a lake in the distance. Very pastoral--city stresses are cast away with the wind; you're in the country now.
I booked a Grand Manor room, which are all housed in the original Manor House, which also houses the lobby, reception area, the Library (for afternoon tea and daytime refreshments), and gift shop. This is also where the hotel's resident Black Labrador named Oliver has his bed. He is a very mellow fellow, and must be quite fit, as he is taken on many walks throughout the day by guests. Other guestrooms are in the wings behind the Manor House. All rooms seem to be of similar size, but the views vary. My room looked out over the estate's grounds, specifically the Belvedere Pond and Fishing Cabin. There were 3 large windows--2 in the bedroom and one in the dressing area/closet. The ceilings were very high, the marble bathroom opulent with a claw-foot tub, separate shower and enclosed WC. There was a Nespresso machine with fresh milk in the minibar fridge. There was a half- crescent window above the room's entry door into a small foyer, then another door to block out light and noise (the room was at the top of a grand wooden staircase, and guests going to rooms in other wings had to walk past the bottom of these stairs from the lobby). It truly felt like I was a guest in someone's grand country home.
Being somewhat isolated, dining onsite is the most convenient option, and the only one not requiring a car. The hotel has 3 restaurants--the most formal is Seasons, with the more casual Bistro next door (along with Bar 1086), plus Cafe Sante in the Spa. There was also a temporary steakhouse opening the day I checked out. Seasons has a special seafood menu (FiSH) on Fridays. The Plateau de Fruits de Mer was very fresh and ample, delicious. I also had the breakfast buffet at Seasons the next morning (Saturday). Apparently on weekends, the buffet offers the most variety when the largest crowds are expected. It was quite a spread, artfully presented and quite tasty. Being the most formal restaurant, Seasons requests that families with children dine early (before 8pm) for dinner, so later diners can have a more peaceful experience, but surely this rule is not enforced, given how kid-friendly Four Seasons hotels usually are. I dined early for dinner, and there were a number of families, all but one was tolerable. For breakfast, eat early for the quietest meal, before the youngsters are up and about.
I did not have a spa treatment, but did visit the spa, and it is a lovely facility, quite large, small children not allowed. The adjacent pool is housed in a glass atrium and has adults-only times. The connecting outdoor vitality pool--a fancy jacuzzi--is for people over age 16.
There are innumerable activities available on the estate; most require prior arrangements. One can fish in the small Belvedere Pond or the larger Tundry Ponds, do clay pigeon shooting, falconry, croquet, tennis, equestrian activities, boating on the Basingstoke Canal (which meanders through the estate), or bike, walk or jog along many trails. I chose to check out a complimentary bike at the fitness centre and followed the 4 -mile Canal trail (maps provided). The trail, which passes open pastures with grazing cows and sheep before running alongside the canal, was quite muddy in spots. I saw a few guests walking the trail in rubber boots--apparently the hotel offers these boots but I was not informed of this fact and do not know from whom you get them. The ride nevertheless was beautiful and tranquil. There are several lovely old bridges along the canal, as well as some beautiful private homes. The trail seems to be enjoyed by locals also, many with dogs. Returning to the hotel, I came across a bellman who had dropped some guests by the pond for a picnic, then got the hotel's Range Rover stuck in the mud.
The grounds immediately surrounding the hotel include a beautiful formal walled garden, Reed Cottage for preteen babysitting with an adjacent playground, Rose Cottage for teen games, a wedding pavilion, chicken coop, and the aforementioned tennis courts and croquet lawn. In the evenings, there seems to be very little outdoor lighting, so evening walks seem a bit risky.
All in all, a lovely country escape just outside London. Just be aware that when you visit determines the type of stay you will have--it's very much based on children's school schedules.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set amid 500 acres of Hampshire parkland, yet only 1 hour from central London, Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is the perfect English-country escape. Centred on a historic Georgian Manor house, rooms feature English-style interiors with spacious, en-suite marble bathrooms. Guests can enjoy an array of country pursuits including horse-riding and clay-pigeon shooting, and outdoor activities such as tennis and cycling. The luxury Spa, situated in the renovated stable block, features a conservatory-style infinity pool and outdoor vitality pool, and a tree-top challenge, the Highwire Adventure, is situated in the estate's woodland. Seasons restaurant offers traditional British classics with a modern twist, made with the finest locally sourced produce. Adjacent to the restaurant, Bar 1086 serves a range of seasonal cocktails and Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire's own craft ale, the '1086'. Guests can also delight in Afternoon Tea in the Library, overlooking the rolling Hampshire Hills. Pets welcome. From 17th October to 2nd December 2016, Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire will be undertaking an enhancement programme of the ground floor facilities of its Manor House. During this period, arrival at the Hotel will via The Club & Spa at Four Seasons and provisions are in place to guarantee a seamless check-in experience. Afternoon Tea will during this time be served in Seasons. The Hotel Team is committed to minimising disruption to guests throughout the duration of the enhancements. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- 4 Seasons Hotel Hampshire, England
- Four Seasons Hampshire England
- Four Seasons Hook
- Hook Four Seasons
- Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, England