Get the best of CF straight to your inbox.

Subscribe, sit back, and let your mind travel.

Citizen Enfants

Four Seasons Hampshire: A Relaxing Countryside Staycation With Kids

The Four Seasons Hampshire has unicorn-status in parenting circles. A luxury four-star manor house that simultaneously caters to well-heeled mums and dads and somehow doesn’t leave you fretting about your kids behaviour? It’s nothing short of a miracle. So you start to think: can it really be as good as all that? But, dear reader, it really is.

Set amongst 500 acres of lush parkland in the historic Dogmersfield Park (where Henry VIII met his first wife, Catherine of Aragon), the sprawling red-brick Georgian manor is picture-book English countryside living, with sculptures of boar, boxing hares and deer on the driveway and a huge open fireplace in reception, not to mention a perfectly manicured walled garden. Playing up to its rural location, there are outdoor pursuits galore to dabble in, including fishing, falconry, croquet, clay-pigeon shooting, bird-watching and cycling. 

If rest and relaxation is on the agenda, then there’s a fabulous spa with a centrepiece swimming pool in the old stables block, as well as an outdoor vitality pool for those brave enough. As mentioned previously, there’s much to keep little ones entertained, from the equestrian centre to Sharkie’s Reef – more on that later. 

The Vibe

The Four Seasons somehow straddles two worlds: that of bonafide country escape, with dogs, wood fires and Barbour jackets, and slick luxury hotel, with a luscious spa and a gorgeous bar that serves the finest champagne cocktails. A lot of the effect is down to the sheer size of the place, with numerous wings and buildings, not to mention 133 bedrooms and 22 suites, so that you never feel the incongruousness of a children’s splash park next to a massage room.

The other major factor is the professionalism and charming nature of the staff, who are always ready to direct you if you get lost, or drop you off somewhere on site in a golf buggy. You can see why it’s so popular with frazzled parents far and wide, and in particular Londoners, who are only 70 minutes away by car or an hour by train from Waterloo. What’s more, with kids in tow, it’s refreshing to feel completely at ease in your surroundings, despite how grown-up they are. Put it this way: we don’t think anyone would bat an eyelid if you turned up to dinner in muddy boots – or if your child did.

The Food + Drink

There are numerous eating and drinking options throughout the hotel, from the Drawing Room, which serves afternoon tea, to the Café Sante in the spa, with its green juices and salads. The main affair is Wild Carrot, a subterranean dining room and bar, where kids eat for free all day. Lemon-painted walls and pastel-hued furniture complement the high ceilings and ample windows, which give the whole space a wonderfully bright and airy feel. It’s your standard buffet for breakfast, with everything you’d expect, plus extras like a Bloody Mary station. Children are given their own cutlery sets – a real life-saver considering it’s an essential that is so incredibly easy to forget. Before dinner, bag an armchair in the sumptuous bar, which has a darker and moodier ambiance, full of jewel tones and plush velvet.

When you’re ready to wander over to your table, chef Talha Barkin’s menu champions seasonal, local produce, with signature dishes including braised lamb shoulder with truffled mash potato and Hampshire trout tartare. The room service is efficient and spoiling, with a great selection for children too, including homemade chicken nuggets and chips with a side of coleslaw, which alleviated any parent guilt related to ‘healthy’ choices immediately. 

The Rooms

Luxurious, spacious and colourful, the rooms are a harmonious blend of period and modern, with mid-century furniture like bobbin-legged chairs, and contemporary flourishes like brass light fittings. Many historic properties can feel a little gloomy and pokey, with uneven floorboards and the like, but the Four Seasons is the opposite, with colourful decor (sage green walls, chartreuse curtains, rose sofas) and high ceilings, plus floor-to-ceiling windows with views across the grounds.

It’s a white and marble affair in the bathrooms (with some bathrooms offering claw-foot bathtubs) with Asprey toiletries, while the mini-bar offering includes a Nespresso machine and tea-making set. Ample wardrobe space is useful if you’re travelling with children, while the armchair with matching pouffe is ideal for putting your feet up without actually clambering into the very comfy kings-sized bed. If you’re staying with children, then there will be a cot and nappy bin provided, plus a bathrobe and slippers, too sweet to leave behind. Little ones will also be pleased to find a Peppa Pig afternoon tea awaiting them, not to mention a personalised greeting written on the mirror.

The Child’s Play

As previously mentioned, Four Seasons Hampshire is famed for its children’s offering, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Upon check-in, little guests are given an activity passport to tick off various things throughout their stay, with the choice of a soft toy presented to them too. At the Equestrian Centre, even pre-schoolers with no experience can have a ‘meet and greet’ with Dougal and Milo, kitted out in very Insta-worthy helmets and boots as they give them a good groom.

Meanwhile Sharkie’s Reef, designed by Disney sculptor Justin Pook,  is a toddler’s dream, with a waterslide, sprinklers, bubble jets and various other contraptions releasing and spraying water everywhere, with the depth barely at 30cm ruler height for peace of mind. What’s more, forgetful parents are well catered for with spare swimming nappies and regular nappies and wipes.

The To-Do List

There’s so much to do at the Four Seasons Hampshire that it can feel like you barely scratch the surface, particularly during a two-night stay. The perfect itinerary would take in a morning spent outdoors, whether that’s cycling on one of the free bikes, hitching a ride on the hotel barge along the Basingstoke Canal or trotting on one of the ponies at the equestrian centre.  After lunch, it’s time for a trip to the spa or Sharkie’s Reef – or flip a coin for which parent does what. On day two, head to nearby Paulton’s Park home of Peppa Pig World, which has a partnership with the hotel, or if your children are older, then get an adrenaline buzz on the High Wire Adventure Course or get up close and personal with some birds of prey with the falconry expert. It would be impossible to tick off every one of the hotel’s myriad activities, which is ideal for a repeat trip.

Lead image: Four Seasons, Hampshire

We may earn a commission if you buy something from any affiliate links on our site.

What to Pack

You May Also Like

Any Questions or Tips to add?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What to Pack?