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Grade II listed Heckfield Place, is a hotel, restaurant and spa set in 400 acres of rolling Hampshire countryside in Heckfield, just north of Hartney Wintney. It was formerly a Georgian family home, originally built in 1790 by John Lefevre. The estate remained owned by the Shaw-Levre family (including,most famously, Charles Shaw-Lefevre, Viscount Eversley, speaker of the House of Commons)and then the Walpole family, until the 1980s when it was sold to Racal Electronics, who used it as a commercial conference and training centre. Then from 2000 to 2002, it was run as a corporate training centre by the Thales Group. It was then sold in 2008 to Gerald Chan, a Hong Kong-born real estate billionaire…it then took 11 years, untold sums and more than 100 separate planning applications to restore this absolute gem. It was hard-earned but so worth it – a celebration of natural materials with a cosy feel but elegantly-styled. The interior design has been carefully crafted by Ben Thompson (formerly of Studioilse), the culinary director is Skye Gyngell (who also runs Spring restaurant in London’s Somerset House) and the general manager is Olivia Richli (with 18 years at Aman)…between the three talents they have created a world-class luxury experience that still feels homely.
The interiors have personal touches (some of the art is from Chan’s private collection), natural touches (lime-plastered walls with linen, oak and hand-made furniture is used) and literary touches (there is a curated collection of books throughout the rooms). There are 38 rooms, six signature suites and a cottage - the largest room, The Long Room, is a stunning loft with a 180-degree-view private terraceand will set you back £10,000 per night. The rooms are elegantly-laidback with Italian bed linen but also embrace technology with iPads and light settings for every mood. The palette used throughout is green, grey and blush pink, soft organic colours that reflect the countryside expanses. Organic is balanced with luxury with marble fireplaces in the drawing rooms and dramatic marble backdrops in the Marle restaurant. Brass touches in candlesticks, lighting and handles complete the feeling of luxury. There is also a clever use of greenery within rooms with large indoor trees and houseplants to complement the nature outside. There is no doubt that Heckfield Place has been a labour of love and this love is evident at every corner turn. It’s a perfect weekend retreat, a week away from the stresses of life, or even just to pop in for some lunch or dinner.
As well as relaxing in the Bothy Spa (with treatment rooms and yoga and pilates studios) or watching a film in the sumptuous basement cinema, there is much to see and experience at Heckfield. There is a working farm with sheep, pigs, chickens and cows and a market garden and orchard (which supplies the restaurant) providing vegetables and fruit. As well as this, creative studio, Hole & Corner, also run courses where you can learn such crafts as paper-making and reed-weaving. Despite being just one hour away from London, it is a restful place (you can even swim in the lake) with far-reaching views, even to Windsor Castle on a clear day.
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