Gorgeous scenery, Old World grace and an ancient forest await you on a visit to the countryside south of London. The region’s shining star is an 18th-century resort near Hampshire…a country house by the sea called Chewton Glen. It was enchanting enough to inspire Alice in Wonderland, and its charms and service make it a wonder-filled escape for every visitor.
To nurture your inner Anglophile, you really must see the English countryside. Chewton Glen is a prime example, offering warm, attentive service coupled with Old World style. One of the first grand estates to become a hotel back in the 1970s, the house is located on the edge of the ancient New Forest, one and one-half hours from London via chauffeured car. Today, it’s considered one of England’s poshest resorts, with the classic feeling of an Agatha Christie mystery novel – chintz couches, roaring fires and all. The grounds encompass 130 acres of exquisitely landscaped parks, gardens and woodland, all just a short walk from the sea.
Completed in 1732, the estate came into prominence in the mid-19th century when the novel The Children of the New Forest was written at the estate. This literary link has contributed to the house’s fabled allure. Captain Frederick Marryat, the book’s author, must have found the area inspiring…and intriguing. Since the locale was within easy reach of the sea, smugglers brought their contraband up through the grounds and into the forest beyond it. Marryat's brother, George, owned the property from 1837 until 1855, when it was sold to the Elphinstone family. Add to this the fact that Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland nearby, and you have the makings of literary lore. When I asked the property’s managing director, Andrew Stembridge if he thought the hotel has other-worldly spirits lurking about, he replied, “The hotel is not haunted to the best of my knowledge, but the memory of Captain Marryat still remains in all the themed rooms.”