BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN HAMPSHIRE
With bustling coastal ports and the beautiful landscape of the New Forest within its boundaries, Hampshire, the largest county in south east of England has much to offer any visitor with a great selection of boutique hotels to choose from. The selection of Chic Retreats boutique hotels in Hampshire includes a luxury hotel to suite every taste and budget. In the New Forest, Chewton Glen is an award-winning, five-star, luxury Hampshire hotel with a superb spa and restaurant, surrounded by 130 acres of parkland. There’s Lime Wood, a country house hotel in Lyndhurst, Hampshire and its sister restaurant with rooms, THE PIG, in Brockenhurst, Hampshire - a foodie’s dream. Or for something more intimate, opt for The Wellington Arms in Baughurst instead, which is a charming find, well off the beaten track, with two rooms in a converted old hay store and one apartment. In the summer, lunch in the pretty garden here is an absolute must.
Hampshire has 3,000 miles of footpaths and 750 miles of cycle paths that wind in and out of picturesque towns and villages. In the handsome Georgian town of Alresford, you can take a ten mile nostalgic steam train ride on The Mid Hants railway to Alton and then visit Jane Austen’s House Museum which is nearby. It was in this house that the author wrote novels such as Emma, as well as revising her drafts of Pride and Prejudice, and today, the museum tells the story of Austen and her family. Equally interesting are the homes of naturalist Gilbert White at Selborne and Mottisfont Abbey, a 12th-century Augustinian priory turned private house with a drawing room decorated by Rex Whistler.
Other places worth exploring include the city of Winchester, for its cathedral, farmers’ market, which is the largest in the country (it takes place the second and last Sunday of each month) and bustling high street, plus the Solent towns of Portsmouth, Southampton and Gosport. Go shopping at Gunwharf Quays and see HMS Victory in the dockyard at Portsmouth, take a guided walk of the city’s old walls in Southampton and wander round the harbour at Gosport, which looks south towards the Isle of Wight. There’s plenty to keep children amused in Hampshire too, from day trips to Marwell Zoo and Longdown Activity Farm (there are pony rides, feed the animal sessions and outdoor play areas where they can run ragged) to Calshot Activity Centre, where teenagers can sign up for sailing, canoeing and other water sports.
All the Chic Retreats recommended boutique hotels in Hampshire have truly excellent restaurants but it’s also worth checking out The Purefoy Arms in the rural village of Preston Candover, near Alresford, for imaginative pub grub by half Spanish chef Andres Alemany. Expect dishes such as bouillabaisse and saffron mash, smoked potato soup and red onion and goats’ cheese tart, followed by sloe gin and blackberry sponge pudding with duck egg custard. Elsewhere, Michelin-starred restaurant The Black Rat in Winchester is a renovated pub with exposed brick walls, wooden tables and a thoroughly seasonal British menu.