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Suite Staycation: Heckfield Place

In our newest column – Suite Staycation – hotel expert and author of British Boutique Hotels, Gina Jackson, tours some of the best hotel suites in the UK. Next up, Heckfield Place.

Best for… Sustainability

A handsome Georgian manor set within 438 acres of Hampshire wilderness, Heckfield Place tells a story of careful and gentle restoration.

Give us the lowdown

It’s instantly obvious upon arrival that Heckfield’s charm is in its distinctly unflashy approach and razor-sharp service. As you sweep along the drive towards the red-brick mansion, a fleet of plucky team members instantly gather round to whisk you inside, where you’ll pass through a series of elegant drawing rooms, each decked out in calming neutral palettes and original artwork – all sourced from billionaire owner Gerald Chan’s private collection. Expect quiet luxury at its finest: carefully considered details and plushly pared-back interiors frame each room, and an added wow factor is the hotel’s impressive sustainability credentials (ranging from its Green-Michelin starred restaurant to the estate’s biodynamic farm). As of last spring, this historic country pile is now also home to one of Britain’s best spas, having finally opened the doors to its long-awaited The Bothy spa.

What’s in the suite?

Each of the hotel’s five signature suites have their own unique character, and are set in the main house. I checked into the Coppice Room, a generous suite awash in shades of dusty pink, offering 72 square metres to sprawl out in: twice the size of most studio flats in London. Enter through the mahogany-clad boudoir to discover a bathroom to your left (complete with deep bathtub, gargantuan shower crafted from red marble, and Wildsmith bath products – all bottled in recyclable glass and aluminium) before passing through to the bedroom on your right.

Bay windows offer sweeping views over the lake and gardens beyond, and are framed by a dining table and squashy chaise lounge. Artfully placed books line the shelves; an iPad to scroll through the estate’s offerings is within reach of the elegant bedstead; and antique armchairs carefully upholstered in velvet are gathered around the flat screen TV. There are plenty of period touches, too, from the shiny walnut floors to the ceilings adorned with ornate cornicing. In contrast, entry-level bedrooms have a more contemporary feel.

How’s the crowd? 

Heckfield’s slow-paced charm clearly appeals to all ages: guests range from honeymooning couples to families with well-behaved children in tow. All share one thing in common – a desire to fully unwind and appreciate the hotel’s easy access to nature.

Where can we eat and drink?

Both of the hotel’s restaurants sit under the culinary direction of acclaimed chef, Skye Gyngell (of Petersham Nurseries and Spring fame), offering fresh, farm-to-table fare. In Green Michelin-starred Marle, diners gather around marble tables – all dressed with wildflowers plucked across the estate – and feast on seasonally-informed dishes: tender monkfish, creamy stracciatella with artichokes, and crispy potatoes doused in leek-top aioli. Come morning, breakfasts are a languid affair; return to Marle to discover the restaurant flooded with sunlight, and graze on homemade morning buns, and buckwheat crepes, washed down with freshly-squeezed juice concoctions.

For wood-fired dinners, head downstairs to Hearth, where you can tuck into sharing-style dishes while curled up on sheepskin throws, and watch the chefs in action over the open grill. Follow this with an evening tipple at the intimate Moon Bar, where cocktails are poured under a glittering disco ball suspended from the ceiling.

Any stand-out touches?

Personalisation is key. You’ll find individual itineraries waiting in your bedroom, and even key cards gently embossed with your initials. Minibars in every bedroom are very much made to be raided, and are restocked with freshly-made biscuits (of the sweet and savoury variety), and hand-bottled cordials daily. Our favourite ritual? Heading to the Drawing Room every afternoon for complimentary tea and a slice of fudgy chocolate and caramel cake.

What’s on the to-do list?

Slowing down and grounding yourself within nature is very much on the agenda here. After rambling through the hotel’s 438 acres of wilderness, grab a bicycle and whiz down to Heckfield Home Farm, the estate’s onsite biodynamic farm, to wander through rows and rows of fresh produce. Or take a boat out onto the Lower Lake, and refresh the senses with a spot of wild swimming. Make sure to take full advantage of The Bothy spa, the hotel’s latest addition, which quietly opened its doors last spring. Set amidst the walled gardens, this hush-hush space boasts a vast, skylit pool, along with a yoga studio, gym, and café serving a menu of nourishing, mainly plant-based options.

For treatments, guests are encouraged to lock their phones away and head down the sweeping staircase to cocooning treatment rooms below. Expect to feel entirely renewed by the soothing, bespoke therapies, all of which utilise Wildsmith’s botanically-powered products, and are followed up with herbal teas served in blacked-out relaxation rooms.

What else should we know before we go?

Heckfield’s additional offerings change with the seasons, so time your visit wisely. Come winter, expect screenings in the impressive 67-seater cinema, cold water immersion in the lake, and cocktail-making workshops, whereas forest bathing, fishing, and al fresco picnics are all on offer in the warmer months.

Lead Image: The Long Room at Heckfield Place
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