By Rhiannon Taylor, June 2019
The opening of Heckfield Place has come with much anticipation, to say the least. Planning permissions were secured as far back as 2009 to restore the Grade II-listed house and budgets came and went. But owner Gerald Chan, the Billionaire head of a private equity firm, just wanted to get it right.
For the majority of the 19th century Heckfield Place was home to the Lefevre family. In the 1850’s it was described as ‘a large and handsome mansion, in an extensive and well-wooded park’ and under head gardener, William Wildsmith, it gained an arboretum and ornamental lake, and became renowned for its exotic hothouse fruit produce.
In 2018 it joined Kiwi Collection upon it’s reopening and to say we were gobsmacked pulling in to the estate is an understatement. There’s an understated sophistication about the place upon check-in. The British Royals have just checked out that morning after a babymoon vacation but no-one says a word about it. We’re taken in to one of the lounges (there are multiple) and sink ourselves in to an oversized couch that could possibly double as a bed. We’re served tea and we gaze out the windows over grounds that stretch out as far as the eye can see.
We’re immediately struck by the fresh flowers that adorn every corner of each room and after tip toeing around the house we stumble upon the hotel’s resident florist who’s assembling fresh picks of yellow tulips from the garden. She shares with us her tips on how to arrange your own florals for home and we’re grateful for this mini-masterclass that happened upon chance.
Our room is ready and we follow our charming host down a maze of corridors to a pastel-pink suite that is cosy and whimsical. There’s a plush chair which begs for an afternoon with a good book and a writing desk (set with flowers of course) that gives you the immediate urge to write a letter to a loved one. The king bed is laid with beautiful linen and the generous sized bathroom comes with a rain shower and freestanding tub accompanied by the hotel’s in-house skincare brand Wildsmith Skin.
It’s all positively perfect and we could spend the whole day in the room if not for our booking with The Assembly - the hotel’s community event series. Designed to bring people together and slow down, we’ve chosen to participate in a Connect Craft workshop focusing on Cyanotyping. We start with a long lunch and chat with other travellers and locals alike before trundling through the grounds to the glasshouse where we spend the afternoon mastering our Cyanotype skills (or lack thereof). None of us touch our phones throughout the day and time passes quickly whilst we play with flowers and printing, finishing off our workshop with carrot cake, scones and tea.
Should you visit on a day where there are no events, there’s plenty to do on property. There are sun loungers when the weather is good, you can stroll the 400 acres of secluded Hampshire landscape or take a tour out to the Home Farm to see Heckfield Place’s astounding biodynamic garden. Luxury and grandeur aside, at the soul of Heckfield Place lies a hotel that has a complete focus on sustainability which is so intrinsic to its day to day operations that you wouldn’t even notice.
Come sunset we head for a drink at Moon Bar, a swanky space with a giant disco ball and dark wood walls. Inspired by lunar phases, Moon Bar cocktails are unique to Heckfield in concept, presentation and flavour depending on the season. They’re some of the best cocktails we’ve had in a long time and would quite happily sample them all if not for our dinner booking at Marle, the hotel’s largest restaurant. We graze on a menu that focuses on simple produce, expertly cooked. There’s a ricotta and lemon ravioli which is perfectly done and spring lamb which comes with all the bounties of the garden. Save room for dessert because a chewy meringue with clotted cream is simply sublime and we feel like we need to be rolled back to our room.
The following day we’re unsure of whether to book in to the spa or snooze on a lounger, but either way we’re smitten with every corner at Heckfield Place.
We were guests of Heckfield Place and Kiwi Collection.